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Duct tape helps undergrad stick to college path

Garett Stenson downplays the war (on terrorism) dividend. His hobby making wallets for friends out of duct tape was already booming before last fall's Homeland Security alert suggested that the sticky silver cure-all could somehow save lives.

Stenson uses 25 colors of duct tape (including four shades of camo). He spends at least 60 hours a week making and selling the wallets (which range in price from $12 to $22), purses and business card holders at Portland Saturday Market. His creations also are carried by 20 or so retail stores, and he has a deal with trendy clothing label Sameunderneath to use its logo.

Stenson, 23, is one term away from a bachelor's degree in marketing at Portland State University. He pays all of his tuition, rent and expenses on the back of Ductbills and his Web site, www.ductbills.com.

He reckons he's sold 6,000 wallets in 18 months. Revenues last year were 'around $75,000.' This year he thinks he'll top $100,000.

'I go through a ton of X-Acto blades, cutting out logos,' he says with a sigh. 'But I can do the folding in my sleep.'

Ñ Joseph Gallivan