Little Ears and Eyes: Santa Tracker
While playing Santa is a well-paying gig, there are a few things you might want to think about before putting on the red suit. The truth is, Santas are never actually off the clock. You may be seen by a child while you're out and about, so forget about lighting up a cigarette, taking a drink, or cursing in public; you must also be fast on your feet in case you have to explain to a suspicious child why Santa is eating at McDonalds.
Speaking of kids, they are Santa's biggest blessing and challenge. They may pull on Santa’s beard, cry, scream, sneeze and cough; so Santa needs to have a healthy immune system or a good health insurance plan. Santas must be prepared for everything and anything, that’s why there are Santa training schools, conventions and even an Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas!
Bilingual Santa, Hunky Santa, Cartoon Santa, etc...
Reflecting today's specialized job market, there are specialized Santas. They range from Bilingual Santas to Santas who know sign language; other specialties include Santas who can skateboard, skydive, jet ski, or even parachute down to malls. In Los Angeles, a mall called the Beverly Center features two Santas: Hunky Santa (a muscle-bound Kris Kringle) and a traditional (non-hunky) Santa.
Hunky or not, Santa can bring in big bucks. For shopping malls in the United States, Santa is a key marketing tool to lure shoppers away from retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. In fact, Santa is one of the few advantages that a mall has over discount retailers which often scrooge on holiday decorations and do not have a Santa. It's not uncommon for a mall to spend thousands building a "North Pole" set for Santa and the elves.
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Santa Inc. has two purposes, bring customers into the mall and generate income from photo packages which run from $15.00 to $40.00. The whole “Santa experience” usually generates about $400,000 in photo sales, of which the photography agency keeps about 75 percent, and the mall pockets 25 percent. However, that profit is taking a bite these days due to cell phones with cameras.
Still, for the Santa who can make $8,000-$10,000 over five to six weeks, it’s a happy holiday. Just remember, Santa has to please a lot of people: kids, parents, the mall and the photo agency. There is no room for Bad Santa behavior (take note, Billy Bob Thornton).
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