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Money in the Bank
The U.S. Mint is making a mint on the Web. It seems Uncle Sam figured out what most Netrepreneurs haven't--how to sell something for more than it costs to buy or make.
It helps to have collectors, who are clamoring for the mint's new quarters that commemorate different states on the "tails" side--enough to pay $35.50 for a 100-quarter bag and $300 for 1,000-coin bags. Since it costs only a nickel to make a quarter, the math works. The mint expects $150 million in online sales this year.
To drive traffic to www.usmint.gov, the mint has blitzed collector publications and general media with ads. It's working: On Apr. 3, when Maryland quarters went on sale online, 12.8 million coins sold out in two hours. When South Carolina's go on sale in June, Mint officials promise all orders received in the first 72 hours will be fulfilled. Therein lies their edge: It only seemed as if other e-businesses could mint infinite cash, but this one can.By Amy Borrus