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What Five Cents Won't Buy You

Three inches of manila rope. Cost: $0.05. Jesse Johnson hide caption

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Jesse Johnson

We sent Planet Money intern Matt Katz out around Manhattan today to look for things that cost 5 cents or less. Before Matt left, some of our Twitter crowd suggested the hardware store might be a good place to look. Listener Jesse Johnson thought the same thing, but says it wasn't as easy as he expected. He writes:

When I saw your request for photos of items you could buy for five cents, I had to jump at the opportunity.

As a teenager not too long ago, I worked as an associate for my local hardware store. I keenly remember frequent sub-dollar totals at the register and thought the assignment would be a breeze — boy was I in for a surprise. After strolling aimlessly isle by isle, I was unable to locate a single screw, washer, nut or bolt for less than seven cents. Dismayed I took a trip to the bulk section and found the cheapest rope was sold for twenty cents a foot. For your consideration, I submit a photo of three inches of quarter inch manila rope.

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Will Totten of Saint Paul, Minn. had similar luck. He writes:

I was actually surprised to see that most of these small hardware parts had passed your nickel "limit". The washers were 9 cents each and the lock nuts were 14 cents apiece. (If you need a box of 100 of something, the unit price is much lower, of course.)

Will did find one item that meets our criteria — a single drywall screw.

Drywall screw in Minnesota. Cost: $0.05. Will Totten hide caption

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Will Totten