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LaserMonks Offer Prayer, Printer Cartridges 404

Minnesotan writes "According to a article: If you need discounted inkjet- or laser-printer cartridges, Wisconsin's LaserMonks say they'll give you a doozy of a deal while you 'support prayer for the world'. The Cistercian priests - yes, they're actual Catholic monks - oversee a novel e-commerce enterprise out of their rural abbey. Proceeds go to maintain the monastery and finance charitable works around the world."
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LaserMonks Offer Prayer, Printer Cartridges

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  • Re:It gets weirder (Score:5, Informative)

    by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @08:34PM (#7957954)
    I heard some of these monasteries actually make money off brewing beer!

    There is a great and long tradition of Trappist monastaries brewing beer. The Belgian trappist ales are some of the finest in existence. If you like your beer dark, rich and potent then there is nothing finer. The best known are the Chimay [] ales which are truly excellent, especially the chocolatey Trippel.

    Goodness I think its time to leave work and find God at the bottom of a bottle...
  • Re:It gets weirder (Score:4, Informative)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @08:35PM (#7957961) Homepage Journal
    I heard some of these monasteries actually make money off brewing beer!

    So? They're catholics, not mormons. Jesus turned water to wine, they turn grain to beer.
  • by xao gypsie ( 641755 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @08:37PM (#7957979)
    Or do they first circumsize and baptize everyone who buys a modem from them? :D
    *ahem* it is the greek orthodox church, i believe that circumsized and baptizes.....not the catholics
  • by Maigus ( 118056 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @08:44PM (#7958026)
    Are there going to be any comments to this story which aren't modded "funny"? I mean really, what can you say?
  • Re:With These Guys (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @08:55PM (#7958111)
    Good thing they're catholic--sins don't matter--if you confess--which it looks like they're doing.

    So, everything's on the up-and-up.
  • by hellish products ( 624704 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @09:05PM (#7958188)

    Monk e-business
    Pioneer Press
    More photos JIM GEHRZ PHOTO
    The Rev. Bernard McCoy heads up LaserMonks -- when he isn't praying, of course.

    SPARTA, Wis. -- Phone calls to LaserMonks' rural headquarters are sometimes tinged with caution or outright suspicion.

    Those are awfully good prices for generic inkjet or laser-printer cartridges, a caller might remark after checking the offerings at

    What's the catch?

    And, c'mon, you aren't really monks, are you?

    A recent caller lost seven years of savings to an online scam artist after trying to book a cruise for herself and her daughters. She vowed never to buy anything else on the Internet.

    But with three printers churning out student papers in her Pennsylvania home, she couldn't ignore discounts of up to 90 percent over name-brand cartridges. Look, she told LaserMonks, she had trust issues. She needed the firm to set her mind at ease.

    LaserMonks' response helps explain why the two-year-old e-commerce venture based at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank -- yes, with actual Catholic monks -- appears to be on a stratospheric business trajectory.

    At a time when online printer-cartridge vendors can trigger mistrust because of some questionable offers clogging inboxes, LaserMonks has seen its gross revenue soar from about $2,000 in 2002 to about $500,000 in 2003. Projected 2004 sales are three to four times higher still.

    To pull off this e-tailing feat, LaserMonks has had to win over disbelievers with high-quality products and top-flight customer service along with rock-bottom prices, not to mention small but meaningful gestures its clients don't expect.

    The skeptical Pennsylvania mother, for instance, got four cartridges on speculation. Try 'em out, LaserMonks said. If you like them, consider sending us a few bucks. No hurry, take a few months to think it over.

    The company soon got paid in full for the shipment, along with a second order for four cartridges.


    The 75-year-old abbey, which has been at its current location about 130 miles southeast of St. Paul for 19 years, isn't the sort of place that screams "e-commerce hotbed."

    Perched on a wooded hill, just up an unpaved road and through a decorative gateway, the low-slung composite-stone structure seems bereft of life -- until Gregorian chanting tips off a visitor that white-and-black-robed inhabitants are somewhere about.

    Inside a small chapel, a few Cistercian priests melodiously remind themselves of the Latin dictum ora et labora -- prayer and work, always in that order.

    Only then does the 36-year-old Rev. Bernard McCoy trod through a carpeted hallway to his modest office -- the LaserMonks nerve center. From there, he oversees a nationwide network of people and facilities in his practical role as the abbey's "steward of temporal affairs."

    McCoy's key role: generating cash to support the abbey along with its complex array of charitable causes around the world. That also means overseeing a modest portfolio of real-estate holdings. One recent day, he haggled good-naturedly with the local tax assessor over one property's perceived value.

    Before LaserMonks came about, McCoy obsessed over other ideas for turning his perennially cash-strapped monastery into a money machine. Until last year, he sold spiritual books and other religious items on the Web. For a while, he oversaw a program to move and renovate homes due for demolition. He has considered cultivating shiitake mushrooms, building a golf resort and breeding Christmas trees.

    This is a common issue for monasteries, convents and other such communities, which typically must support themselves.

    Trappistine nuns in Dubuque, Iowa, make candy. Nearby Trappist monks build caskets. Oregon Trappists warehouse wine. Massachusetts Trappists make jams and jellies. Belgian Trappists brew beer. Filipino monks and nuns make fruit concoctions d
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @09:05PM (#7958193)
    And where would geeks be without caffeine? Try Monastery Blend Coffee [] from the Christ the All-merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monstery [] on Vashon Island near Seattle. Excellent stuff.
  • Re:Lasermonks (Score:2, Informative)

    by monkhelper ( 740900 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:18AM (#7959703)
    I am a monkhelper and because of the wonderful newspaper article about Lasermonks and the traffic from your site, our webhost shut us down because traffic was flooding the server. We greatly apologize for this and would love for one of you techno-wiz-people to recommend a good host that will grow with us and allow us as much bandwidth as we need. And yes, they really are monks and are extraordinary human beings. I like to say that the vision behind Lasermonks is "technology meets theology" with a bit of spice.
  • Re:View from HP? (Score:2, Informative)

    by monkhelper ( 740900 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:26AM (#7959758)
    Are you willing to be open minded and take into consideration that our web host cut us off due to unusually high traffic? We had to do more than pray to get back up and running.

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