Casey Serin and the

Media Hall of Shame

Last week I laughed when I saw where my story about the Barbie Bandits was in the Google rankings. I called a couple of friends and told them, "Holy shit! My story ranks above MSNBC and a host of traditional news sources. Are people really getting their news from ME?!?!?"

But judging by the way that the Old Media has handled this Casey Serin mess, maybe people should be getting their news from me!!! Indeed, it has been the bloggers who have broken this story, while the Old Media ran Casey-Serin-as-victim stories.

Traditional media's handling of this story has been grim, and it certainly lends credence to folks getting their information from alternative sources. At the very least, the Old Media folks should have cross-referenced their stories by speaking to law enforcement officials to give readers a full picture of the scope and potential punishment of Casey and Galina Serin's crimes.

It's lazy journalism, plain and simple. Anyone who has spent a brief amount of time actaully reading and researching Casey Serin's story is immediately struck by the extenxive chain of fraud that occurred. But print and glossy media has persisted in portraying Casey Serin (and by extension, his wife Galina Serin) as poor victims of the real estate bubble, predatory lending, or any other real estate buzzword of the day.

I find this particularly offensive. Or, in more typical TwelveYearsOfBeingAnnoyedByChloeSevigny speak, "What the FUCKING fuck FUCK?!?!?!" Casey and Galina Serin are not innocent victims of the real estate industry. They are the perpetrators of multiple crimes against various banks, lenders, and creditors!!!!

(If you missed yesterday's primer on charlatans Casey and Galina Serin, "Send Casey Serin to Prison", you might want to go back and read that first. Casey newbies should get caught up to truly understand the level of vile and vitriol that the blogosphere is leveling at him.)

Bloggers have gone out of their way to alert government agencies and creditors alike to Casey Serin's illegal activities. This includes tracking the complicity of his wife Galina Serin and other 'known associates'.

The rage in these posts, and in the comments, is palpable. But it's easy to understand why. People who have followed Casey Serin's story for any length of time are not just content to see him arrested. Nothing short of a ridiculously long prison term and FULL REPAYMENT of "every dirty penny" will suffice.

Whether writing about the complexity of mortgage fraud, deconstructing Casey's lame-ass attempts to dodge responsibility, or pointing out Galina's complicity, the blogosphere is just the beginning of the impending public response to Casey Serin.

So CHEERS to the bloggers. And a big "Boo! Hiss!" to the Old Guard. Here's our list of media sources that totally dropped the ball in fully informing the public about Casey Serin. In chronological order, here is the Casey Serin Media Hall of Shame:

San Francisco Chronicle
On October 6, 2006, the SF Gate posts a laughably optimistic story about Casey Serin's role in the real estate bubble. His ill intent is glossed over; instead, he is held up as some sort of poster-boy for failing markets and dodgy lenders.

"But by offering himself up as a penitent whipping boy of real estate, Serin has unwittingly offered us a glimpse into the fast-approaching future in which those high-flying real estate trade secrets come home to roost."

Wow. We surely cannot be referencing the same Casey Serin. Casey Serin is anything but "penitent."

USA Today
This is the one that brought Casey Serin into the national spotlight. In the October 22, 2006 edition, Noelle Knox writes If there's a poster child for everything that went wrong in the real estate boom, it just might be Casey Serin.

Um, if by "everything that went wrong" you mean EXTENSIVE MORTGAGE FRAUD, well then, okay. But no. Noelle Knox writes some esoteric bullshit that basically says, 'a lot of things can go wrong in real estate.' What a Pollyanna load of crap. Back to J-school, Ms. Knox.

Inman News
Matt Carter writes that Casey Serin bought eight homes in six states using 100 percent stated income loans, getting $15,000 to $50,000 cash back on every loan. First, this is the only time I've seen mention of six states. Judging from the depth of fraud committed, that could very well be true.

But since it has not come up anywhere else in print or online media, I question the voracity. Secondly, I would expect that the highbrow, real estate-only news bureau Inman would delve much more deeply into the casually typed phrase "15,000 to $50,000 cash back on every loan."

New York Magazine
As recently as February 12, 2007, Emily Nussbaum had evidently done enough research into Casey Serin to include him in her piece on twentysomethings revealing their lives on the internet. But she paints a plucky portrait of young Casey, merely writing a few paragraphs about his online confessional.

That he is confessing to multiple felonies doesn't seem to faze Ms. Nussbaum. In fact, that element is never mentioned. Perhaps she never got past the title of Casey Serin's blog to actually read one of the numerous instances where he details his crimes. That's quite a shame, because she missed the story entirely.

CBS 5 San Francisco
The most recent incident of a no-research fluff piece on Casey Serin occurred on March 7, 2007. John Lobertini presented yet another piece of Casey-Serin-as-victim-of-big-real-estate. God. Does anyone know how to fucking research anything anymore? Lobertini's piece is similar to the other circle-jerk pieces about Casey Serin, where journalists follow right down the path that Casey leads them.

And while this is far from 'old media', it is worth noting that attention whore mortgage broker Nigel Swaby has put out several press releases, positing himself as the authoritative source on Casey Serin. Nigel Swaby chose the self-important headline Aspiring Web Journalist Lands Real Estate Story of the Year.

Well, that's really stretching it, isn't it? As you can tell from the timeline above, two major news outlets had already "landed" the story when he issued this press release on Halloween of 2006. (And regarding the timing, it's just too easy...I'm leaving that one alone.)

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not the only one who finds the cozy relationship between Nigel Swaby and Casey Serin to be curious. I have to heartily agree with everyone who says they would be incredibly leery about working with a mortgage broker who has such close ties to an admitted felon. I really wonder what his bosses and coworkers at Integrity First Financial think about it.

One last thing....I stumbled across an old blog of Casey Serin's. It was interesting in that was supposedly written on his 25th birthday. This was news, in a sense, since everyone thinks he's 24. But what really struck me was this:

Wait a minute....am I reading that correctly?!?!

Casey Serin was born on SEPTEMBER 11 ?!?!?!?

Talk about your 'day that will live in infamy'......


Send Casey Serin To Prison

Like many folks in the blogosphere, I really don't want to publicize Casey Serin any more than he's publicizing himself. But I've ignored him in these pages for as long as I can stand. I'll admit that for the first few months of reading his self-aggrandizing blog, I thought it was a fake. I mean, there's just no way that someone could commit multiple felonies, then create a blog to boast about it.

No one, that is, except for Casey Serin.

In case you've missed this story, it goes like this: In 2006, at the age of 24, Casey Serin acquired at least 8 (known) properties in 4 states, all within 8 months.

In order to get the loans, he committed multiple types of mortgage fraud. He lied about intending to live in the properties he was buying (he wouldn't have qualified for the loans at the higher 'investor' rate), lied about his income (he had quit his job to become the love child of Carleton Sheets and Tony Robbins), inflated the value of the properties (highly illegal), and got cash back at close (also highly illegal).

By his own admission, the banks were not aware of his cash-back schemes, where he received anywhere from $15,000-$50,000 per closing. And that would be why cash-back schemes are illegal. In rare cases, banks will allow a very small percentage of the sale to go toward closing costs. In Casey Serin's case, that number was more like 10-20%, unbeknownst to his lenders, and rather than paying any costs, went straight into his pocket.

Some of the "cash back" monies were used in a classic pyramid scheme. Each closing brought more money to keep loans current on his existing properties. They also allowed Casey Serin and his wife Galina Serin to live an extravagant lifestyle. Casey and Galina Serin blew through the money quickly, and within months they were facing foreclosure on all 8 properties.

Casey says that he intended to 'flip' the properties. But I'm starting to wonder if he ever intended to do even that. After all, to a 24-year old immigrant with a ten-year history of running pyramid schemes and only a high school education to his name, he was holding more money than he'd ever seen through those cash-backs. Putting a lot of that dough, not to mention a lot of effort, into the properties to make twenty grand a pop probably paled in comparison.

(Side note, Casey apparently used his father's email account in 1997 when he ran the online pyramid scheme. He freely admits that he did this, and so the name you will see in that link is Aleksey Serin. In case you didn't do the math, that would have made young Casey all of 14 when he started committing multi-state felonies.)

Giving Casey the benefit of the doubt that he really was planning to flip the properties, the market was not on his side. But that's pretty par for dumbass Casey Serin. He considers himself to be some semblance of a real estate savant, yet didn't know enough to see that most real estate markets had been 'correcting' for a good 18 months before he started buying.

By the time Casey had these homes, he'd already significantly overpaid--far from what you set out to do in real estate investing. With deflating markets in many of the areas where Casey Serin bought homes, he has been unable to "flip" them as he intended and is now $2.2 million in debt. Serin hopes to file for bankruptcy to avoid paying his debts, but has been advised that the fraudulent manner in which the loans were acquired means that he will almost certainly be prosecuted for felony fraud---which he damn well better anyway!

What really pisses me off is that mainstream media has picked up Casey Serin's story, and made him the goddamned poster boy for 'the real estate bubble' and 'predatory lending'.....BULLSHIT. Casey Serin is definitely stupid as fuck. But he's an unrepentant con artist.

Casey and Galina Serin's story isn't one of 'young couple tries to make it in the cold, cruel world.' These two are fucking Bonnie and Clyde. What they're doing is bank robbery, without the gun. Yes, it's slightly more sophisticated than what the Barbie Bandits tried to pull off, but the intent is entirely the same.

While Casey and Galina Serin struggle under the weight of $2.2 million in bad loans, the boy has repeatedly turned down legitimate offers for work in order to pursue his burgeoning career in real estate. She won't work because she supposedly believes that her husband is supposed to support her, and besides, she's in *junior fucking college* !!!! He and his wife are additionally $140,000 in debt for unsecured loans such as credit cards, multiple bank lines of credit, and Cash Call.

As a lot of people have pointed out, this money didn't go into the houses he bought. It didn't go toward the mortgages. It didn't go into their maintenance. And it certainly didn't go into rehabbing them to flip. Put that together with the $100,000 - $150,000 in cash-back monies, and that means Casey and Galina Serin have blown through about $300,000 in less than a year. What entitled little twats.

As I mentioned before, Casey is unrepentant. The kid is, frankly, a fucking psychopath. In fact, Casey Serin is today still trying to make real estate deals. He repeatedly makes reference in his blog to making offers on other homes, and is reportedly even shopping for an apartment complex

Watchful observers have pointed out that Casey Serin has used several aliases and known associates. Some of these may be straw buyers; others may be simply a front to hide his own identity. He and his wife have also registered two known DBA's.

Per Casey Serin's own admissions through his blog, here are some other names you should know. I'm including this to not only provide additional transparency, but to assist any creditors and law enforcement tracking this asshole:

Casey Konstantin Serin, Casey Serin's full name.
Galina Serin, Casey's wife, maiden name Suprun.
Finch Properties, Owned by Casey Serin and Galina Serin
Able Buyer, Owned by Casey Serin and Galina Serin
Aleksey Serin (Casey's father. Casey has reportedly bought and/or transferred properties to this name) Sacramento, CA. Other known cities: Fair Oaks CA, Rancho Cordova CA
Anna Serin (Casey's mother. Casey has reportedly bought and/or transferred properties to this name) Sacramento, CA. Other known cities: Fair Oaks CA, Rancho Cordova CA

Nigel Swaby, Mortgage Broker, Integrity First Financial, Salt Lake City, UT. Other known cities: Sandy UT, Salem OR, Portland OR, Beaverton OR
Duane LeGate, President, House Buyer Network, Atlanta, GA. Other known cities: Marietta GA, Midland GA, Columbus GA, Orange Park FL, Cedar Grove WV
Paul Prestwich, Secure Tomorrow - Asset Protection, Sacramento, CA

Like many readers of Casey's jacked-up online confessional, I would run fast and free of any so-called 'real estate professional' who was cozying up to Casey or Galina Serin. Yeah, yeah...guilty until proven innocent. But like the old boys used to say, you lie with dogs, you're gonna get fleas. In this case, it's probably more like having some veeeery long conversations in closed rooms, even if you aren't conspiring in the con.

One of these associates has said that Casey Serin has recently partnered with a California "investor" referred to as simply "G". They traveled to Salt Lake City together last week, where they were shopping for new properties.

Other blogs say that Casey Serin and his so-called associate were out shopping for homes in the multi-million dollar range. This takes on a new level of ridiculousness when one considers just how badly Casey fucked up with $200,000 and $300,000 properties.

No doubt he's read up on his charlatan real estate investment seminar guides and decided that the 'real margins' are made in higher-end homes. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

If this is your first exposure to Casey Serin, you'll probably have the same reaction that I first did....no WAY could this be real. Oh, but it is. I've looked up the property records. I've seen the fictitious business license trail.

I've got to put this one to bed for the night. There's only so much thinking about this fucked up little huckster that I can stand for one night. But stay tuned....there are some very interesting topics on board. The Casey newbies will have to pull their jaws off the ground. And I highly encourage the seasoned Casey 'haters' to chime in with their vitriol as well.

"Editor's" Note--Work has been a killer for the past couple of weeks, and lord knows I'm not the only one. One of the great things about the 'blogger community' is that people are typically pretty cool about helping one another. With that in mind, my friend Alex and I decided to swap stories this week.

Basically, we're fans of one another's blogs and decided that we would each 'borrow' a story from the other. Alex runs a very cool site called "The Real Estate Forum". As a wannabe homeowner, I try to memorize the tips within for my 'one day' plan. So you'll see my Sunday story about the lady who gave away her tea shop in that blog. I think Alex spun it a bit to better suit the real estate audience. Now I'm doing the same thing with the Casey Serin story.

Alex and I are both incredibly interested in this story, so we're going to combine our research and work together. The blog at "The Real Estate Forum" will have more of a professional tone to it, as opposed to my 'fuck'-filled vitriol. I guess this is a kind of a meme, but I'm excited to see how it works out!


Beauties and the Beasts

The Best and Worst Looking People on TV

Last night I needed a couple of hours of serious vegetation. Work has been grueling for the past couple of weeks, but will hopefully ease up soon. In the meantime, lowest-common-denominator television was called for. And I got just that by watching the weird-ass premier of the Pussycat Dolls show.

In case you missed it, "The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll," is pretty much a cross between "American Idol" and "The Girls Next Door." There's no real plot to speak of, which should surprise no one.

For some reason, the producers thought it would somehow add extra drama to the show to air repeated, graphic scenes of several girls vomiting when a stomach virus hit the majority of the girls. Unless you're into that particular fetish, it's certainly something that could have been handled a whole lot better. And considering the topic, I don't think I'm alone in wishing that "vomiting" had been replaced with "stripper pole."

I haven't really followed the "pop phenomenon" that the Pussycat Dolls have become. It was probably most interesting at its inception, when Carmen Electra and a bunch of her hot B-list celebrity girlfriends did the gig.

I remember they pretty much did Vegas and L.A. parties, and it always struck me as a sort of celebrity talent show. The famous faces in the crowd were mostly friends and family, who happily drank strong cocktails as the girls bumped and writhed.

The concept back then was more '40s burlesque as well. Standard-issue Pussycat Doll gear included garters, windowpane fishnets, and Moulin Rouge-esque lingerie. Frankly, it was a great look.

Somehow, this devolved into actually turning the Pussycat Dolls into some sort of Top 40 sensation. It's now a weird American version of the Spice Girls....as if the world needed that.

So the Pussycat Dolls are hunting for a new member. Good thing, too. The existing "girls" are way past aging out of the program. And that's what would have made for the best vegetative television last night, rather than the vomiting.

At one point, the wannabe's meet the Pussycat Dolls. While the newbies are all wide-eyed and starstruck, the existing members cautiously give each potential Doll a condescending and somewhat terrified once-over. When the girls are crammed in a room together, the physical differences alone become very clear.

The wannabe's are young, mostly 18-20. The oldest is 24. Next to the Pussycat Dolls, who've got to be in their late-30's with assloads of none-too-subtle cosmetic surgery, the newcomers look like they're 12. The Pussycat Dolls themselves wind up looking like the "Don't" list of cosmetic enhancement. As in, "Do..." get enough sleep. "Don't..." pull the skin of your face so tight that your eyes are suddenly near the sides of your skull.

So, yeah, the Pussycat Dolls should worry. Some of these new girls can sing. And there's one 'contestant' that I could have watched all night. I guess she's had years of ballet training, and fuck it shows. Her legs are about nine miles long, her dancing is beyond graceful, and if this Pussycat Doll thing doesn't work out for her, she could easily walk right in and take over for any showgirl out there.

With this in mind, I wonder if later episodes of Pussycat Doll boot camp will have the girls going through forced lip injections, boob jobs, rhinoplasty and microdermabrasion. Because the existing girls are already well on their way to becoming surgical clones of stretch-faced, ropey-armed PD choreographer Robin Antin.

Considering that future episodes threaten to drag out Mark McGrath and Li'l Kim, I doubt anything short of my own stomach virus will have me tuning in again. And considering my low, low expectations to begin with, that's pretty bad.

My overall impression of television today is that of overworked plastic surgery victims, which brings me to the next "Worst Idea on Television." Some-damn-body has agreed to put the heinous Star Jones back on television. Thankfully, it's cable, but still.... expect to have your home invaded by this goofy bitch via CourtTV's airwaves.

This woman is such a fucking train wreck. The promo photo of her is just too much to not include. Because, above the tits, she looks like the vagina fruit that would be produced if Skeletor and a chihuahua were to mate.
Why the fuck should the viewing public have to see this in their homes?!?! And the problem is only compounded with Star Jones Reynold's queen-sized sense of entitlement. I'm pretty sure that Star called in her last favor or a thousand when she decided to throw that grotesque spectacle of an elaborately-sponsored wedding.
In a word, my feeling for television right now is BLEEEEECH.


Meet the "Barbie Bandits"
Part Two

As more information is released about the two fucktard 'bank robbers' in Georiga who disguised themselves with only bug-eyed sunglasses, one can't help but think about what a train wreck these girls are.

Apparantly, after Ashley Miller and Nicole Johnshon perpetrated their 'heist' of an Atlanta-area Bank of America, the two went on a spending spree. The left the suburbs, where they had held up a B of A inside a Kroger store, and headed to the posh Buckhead district to pamper themselves.

The girls first hit the Carter-Barnes salon, getting their hair cut and colored, then leaving $50 tips for their stylists. (Considering that they probably dropped $300 each on services, it's not even remotely an extraordinary tip.)

According to one of the hair stylists, she talked with the duo about the recent Atlanta area bank job. She reports that the two were unfazed by the incident, only saying "I know, that's so crazy, isn't it?" So they were obviously aware that they were being hunted, but were too dumb or high to let that freak them out.

They then reportedly hit the Cheesecake Factory on Peachtree Street for dinner. (Why do the white trash gravitate to chain restaurants? I mean, personally, I would have booked a table at a *nice* restaurant, but apparantly Cheesecake Factory is the tits to these girls.)

The girls parents are understandably devastated. I saw an interview with Ashley Miller's mom last night, and she looked absolutely gobsmacked. But the thing is, both of these girls had been on a collision course for at least some time.

Heather Johnston had been persona non grata in her family for several months. She was caught breaking into her parents' home through a back window while they were out of town. When the parents were contacted to confirm Heather's story that she was just breaking in because she had lost her key, they told police that she was absolutely NOT supposed to be in their home. According to the police report, the officer writes that the parents "specifically indicated she does not belong inside" the home.

Heather was then promptly arrested on criminal trespass charges. When she was booked on those charges, she listed her occupation as "dancer". Really...don't try to even act surprised.

Ashley Miller's resume is not any better. She was given a DUI in July 2006 (remember, she's only 19 as of this writing). When the group was arrested on the Bank of America heist, Ashley Miller, Heather Johnston and Michael Chastang were also found to be holding "less than an ounce" of marijuana and "more than 28 grams of ecstacy."

When asked about the x that Chastang was holding, Ashley Miller told the police that it was hers, and that she is "a drug dealer". She is not being released from jail due to probation violations associated with her DUI charge. Yeah-- (laughs)--bank robbery is probably a surefire way to violate probation!

Michael Chastang, it turns out, was in fact the ringleader as I first surmised here. His criminal resume lists previous arrests for theft, firearms and drug charges. What a winner. He apparantly introduced the dynamic dumb-asses to equally IQ-challenged Benny Herman Allen, and coordinated the plan.

He's the mastermind in the sense that he was the only one bright enough to not actually be in the vicinity of such a moronic crime.

Other than Heather Johnston's parents, who seem to have the most realistic handle on what a hell-bent path their daughter has been on, the other parents are sticking their heads in the sand. Both Miller's and Chastang's mothers can be found in the news hand-wrenching and saying idiotic things like her child "fell into a bad crowd" and other platitudes.

Hey folks, let me clarify something for you---YOUR KIDS ARE THE BAD CROWD. They devised this half-assed scheme to commit multiple felonies, then treated themselves to luxuries while they knew they were the most wanted felons in Georgia at the time. This is not the time to defend them.

The only thing that Ashley Miller, Heather Johnston, Michael Chastang and Benny Herman Allen have going for them right now is that they have been replaced as America's dumbest criminals.

That honor now belongs to 17-year old Demetris McCoy, of Watauga, Texas. While police were investigating his home regarding a series of buglaries in the area, they found a video of the asswipe forcing his 2- and 5-year old nephews to smoke a blunt, by putting it in the kids' mouths and badgering them to inhale.

I'm starting to develop some very strong ideas about forced sterilization.


Urban Tea Party

Maybe the coffee and Kashi are causing a serotonin boost this morning. Maybe I just want a break from really stupid people. Maybe I'm just surprised to read about something that doesn't qualify as a supporting argument for the dumbing-down of America.

Whatever the case, this isn't the blog I planned on writing this morning. I had two posts ready to go (I'm sure they'll gain their place later this week), but came across a pretty outstanding topic a few days ago, and am still thinking about it.

In sharp contrast to last week's "Barbie Bandits", here's an Atlanta woman who has some incredible marketing savvy, a great heart, and proof that money follows passion. Sounds like good Sunday reading to me.

Lisa Campbell is an Atlanta radio personality, who seemingly took every chance possible to travel with her daughter. Fellow travelers know that our foreign excursions often touch us in ways we'd never imagined; that we take away impressions and ideas more often than trinkets.

Lisa Campbell was no different. In Jamaica, she was introduced to a memorable cup of South African rooibos tea. In England, she left the country deeply impressed with the variety and pageantry that tea offered.

She went home and started mixing and infusing teas, presenting them like designer cocktails to her friends who came to visit. She began selling her blends online. Folks in her community wanted to know why she didn't have a shop they could visit.

Today, there is a specialty store called the Urban Tea Party within Atlanta's hip and happening neighborhood of Virginia-Highlands. But Lisa Campbell isn't the owner. She was, until two months ago. But then she literally "gave away the store."

What would be, by any standard, a bad business decision is probably anything but. Lisa opened the Urban Tea Party, and its devotees came in droves. But she was still a full-time news personality on local radio. After two years, the pace became too much.

She planned to sell the business. But as the story now goes, she saw an Oprah episode, where the talk show host passed out $1,000 to each of her audience members and asked them to do something significant for someone they didn't know.

Lisa says she woke up one night and realized, "I'm going to give the store away." She wanted to find a wanna-be entrepreneur who had the desire and talent to run a business, but couldn't find the necessary start-up money.

As a radio personality, Lisa knows the media. She put the word out to the "communiTEA", asking interested parties to compile a one-page business plan. She assembled a team of business-savvy associates to evaluate the applications that came in.

Expecting about 75 applications, she was overwhelmed to receive exactly 457. She was under the gun, as she wanted her new owner to be installed in time for the lucrative Christmas shopping season.

She narrowed the field to 10, and then brought them in to interview, round-robin style, with her search "commitTEA". (Yes, Lisa's got the wordplay down pat.) Sherolyn Sellers was the candidate who stood out to the entire team, and she received the keys to the store, including its extensive stock and existing customer base, on December 4, 2006.

So how is this good business? Well, Lisa still owns the parent company,
Urban Tea Company, and still sells tea online. She plans on franchising the business between 2008 and 2010. And she's publishing a book, also called "Urban Tea."

The word of mouth about Lisa's decision has traveled across the country. And no doubt if Oprah comes calling to have Lisa Campbell tell her story on daytime television, sales will go through the roof. This is certainly an out-of-the-box marketing idea that would flip Madison Ave on its head.

But her campaign doesn't seem contrived. In fact, she could have generated a lot more PR if she had extended the application period. Instead, she made it clear that there would only be about two months for the process to unfold, as her new owner had to get that profitable Christmas season to allow her to be successful in her first year.

Lisa's passion for tea is apparent. As a rabid coffee drinker, I have to say that, after perusing her pages, I'm damn near a convert. On her website, Lisa expounds for pages about the history, flavors, and types of teas. As someone who loves the nuances in wines, I'm intrigued. I'll admit, I've got tea listed on this week's grocery list.

The new owner of the Urban Tea Party in Virginia-Highlands obviously has big shoes to fill. But Lisa remains in constant contact with Sherolyn Sellers, advising her on every element of the business.

People will certainly be talking about this transaction. I know that the next time I'm scheduled to fly through Hartsfield-Jackson, I'll organize my flights so that I have time to go check this place out.

Millions of advertising dollars probably wouldn't cause me to say that. But a weird and wild business idea has. So, contrary to standard b-school thinking, it turns out that giving away the store really is good business.