Some people are natural Santas. Others have to grow into the position. I am one of the later.
I am 58 years old this year. I am one of those guys who has worn a beard for most of his adult life (grew up in Alaska, where such things are not uncommon). After an all expense paid vacation courtesy of Uncle Sam back in the 80's, I worked in Alaska, California, Oregon, and California again before moving with my wife and family to North Carolina. As I've grown older, my beard has become greyer, and I've added 60 or 70 pounds. It occurred to me several years ago that I could make a good Santa some day.
About me: Worked as a Civil Engineer for a dozen years, since that was what my dad had been. Found that it wasn't a great fit, so I changed to IT, and ended up doing Quality Assurance, where I remain. Took up a number of pursuits over the years, of which Gardening, Ham Radio, and Public Speaking (Toastmasters) are more less my current side activities.. Two kids, one of whom is away a college, the other having just announced that he planned to enlist (he says Marines, although we'll see). House in the suburbs. HOA Board member (only one more year on my commitment... Hooray!). Typical middle class geek.
This year, our HOA was planning its annual Holiday Festival, which included a Santa. I attended the Social committee meeting, and when the role of Santa came up, the new Board President, who had done Santa last year, said he guessed he could do it again. Everyone else looked at him (clean shaven, older real-estate guy), and then looked over at me (3 - 4 inch beard, already greying), and said "Why don't we get Mike to do it?". The rest is history. Spent 3 hours one Saturday afternoon in a borrowed Santa suit, interacting with the neighborhood kids (and adults), and having a blast. Yes, this was for me!. I had already planned to get a Santa Suit, so it was just a matter of figuring out the rest of what I needed to become Santa.
Google is your friend. It quickly led me to a number of Santa sites, which included ClausNet. Here I've found a wealth of information and ideas that will let me map out the road to acting as Santa. AFTER the holiday season is past, I'll be making contact with several of the local ClauseNet Santas for advise and guidance. Also, I'll be buying the suit and other goodies as my budget permits, but I'm hoping to have the basics ready to go by the August time frame. Aiming to start doing the Santa thing next year.
As you begin your bookings for the season I would like to offer some suggestions when finding yourself unable to accept a request.
As a reminder, when declining a prospective clients request be sure to do the following:
1. Express your thankfulness for their request.
2. Tell them you are honored that they requested you.
3. If it's a residential request, express being humbled that they have offered to open their home to you.
4. Include your regrets that you will not be able to be a part of their Christmas celebrations this season.
5. Tell them why you must decline.
6. Don't be cocky or flippant in your communications. Be polite.
I am sure you can tailor these suggestions to fit your own personality. But don't discourage them from seeking your SANTA presence in the future.
Declining, is also part of your marketing.
Just my thoughts
This will be my 11th year portraying Santa Claus with any real determination and focus. In that time, I have grown (figuratively and literally!) to not only respect the opportunity that I have in the suit, but to cherish the time I have in the suit.
We have all heard it said, "you never really can understand until you are in the suit" and I can attest to that. It's an amazing rollercoaster and you never can expect what's around the corner as I, like most, have been thrown a few curveballs here and there.
This season is almost 100% booked and while it's not only going to be busy, I am adding a new wardrobe, new belt and buckle, new boots, new items for my Santa show, new giveaways, and a new custom ornament based on my mailbox design for special visits. Not replacements, just additions. Will all of these new things make me a better Santa? The obvious answer is, "NO."
When I was in high school, I was hired by a family friend to work as a roofer. I would learn to spot repairs that were needed, reroof a house, and treat wood shake. One thing that I was not prepared for was the experiences and lessons I would learn from this trusted father figure in my life. He has now since passed away but recently I heard his words ringing in my head and I thought I would share...
Mr. Brown had one of the biggest roofing companies in our area with one major competitor, a newer business that seemed to be everywhere. While our company had two older tiny little pickups and modest equipment, the competitor was seen around town with a full size truck fleet, brand new equipment, and trailers with their logos everywhere. I remeber one afternoon while on a roof with him, one of those shiny big trucks drove by and the driver honked and waived. As they drove off, I made a comment about how we should get a truck like that. His response was, "Why?" He explained,
"Can we not do everything our job entails and to the best quality standard? His company has been around for five years and in that time, would you like to know how many customers have come to us because they were not happy? While they were out buying stuff in their first year of business, in my first year, I was walking door to door, and doing the best possible job I could do, treating every customer like they were my first but that they could be my last. "I have never seen a need for the shiny and new because what I have gets the job done and leaves my customers happy."
It was a year or two after that conversation that the competitor filed for bankruptcy and was gone. Mr. Brown kept going until he decided to sell the business and retire.
I found myself, while I sent off another payment for something new and shiny, Mr. Brown's word enter my mind. Now, what's the point of the story? I'm not going to tell you to stop buying things because, let's face it, new and shiny is pretty fun sometimes, but...time, effort, and training will always come out as the victor in our Santa portrayal. I am fortunate to not be in an area that is saturated by Santas. I have more than enough work in my area and I'm certainly not competing with other Santas. Time and effort is always spent on the "stuff" for the coming season but are we taking time to prepare our minds and hearts?
May each of us not forget or lose sight of the fact that our inner Santa, our knowlege, our heart, our experience, must ALWAYS come first in our seasonal preparations...each and every child needs this to be our focus. The new shiny buckle, suit, or boots will NOT make you a better Santa. What is on the outside is not what makes you Santa. We have an amazing opportunity coming soon. We will put on a suit and create lasting memories for those we visit. Be your best, study, read, ponder how to be your best. That's my focus for this season. Finding ways I can be better.
Thank you Santas! I am grateful for this community and for the sharing that takes place here. I cannot imagine portraying Santa isolated, not being able to share or learn from each others experiences. I am grateful for you and I can certainly say there are some giants and mentors here that I respect immensely...keep sharing!
The 2016 SatBobS School Tour
GORDON BAILEY·TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2016
Well another year of operation and another Textbook is added to the class. Why should you attend? You have the White Beard. You have the Belly. You have the $1500 custom made Red Suit. You have the $900 pair of Boots. You have the real leather Belt with the $450 Gold Plated Lazer Cut Brass “Santa” Buckle. You have the Bag. You knock on the door and belt out your best “Ho Ho HO! That will carry you for the first 5 minutes. Then what do you do?
THAT is what the various Santa Schools try to teach you! How to pose for the picture. How to gain the attention of your audience and entertain them with Story telling, Songs and First Person anecdotes of the mischief the Elves get into and How Mrs Claus helps to keep things running smoothly up at the North Pole. Eye Contact. Vocal projection. Audience psychology.
All of that and much more that is involved in being an independent contractor entertainer is what you learn from the SatBobS Santa School.
What the SatBobS Santa school covers through lecture and books. In this third year of operation (getting the School up and running and on the road) I have been asked repeatedly this year for "more information" about the school. I will now try to answer that question for folks and in the process set up a kind of guideline for my presentation.The school is broken into 3 sections:
1.)The History of the Character we portray and the difference between St Nicholas vrs. Santa (2 very different Characters with vastly different backgrounds)
2.)The business side of being an "Independent Contractor Entertainer" and the related practical considerations in operating a business whether for profit or for Charity.
3.)Practical information on performance and appearance to further break it down I will list the topics of lecture by section, there is some overlap between sections as to topics though.
Part of the topics covered: Section 1: Be Original (pg.1 bk.1) The Evolution of the Santa Image (pg.7 bk.1) The Export of Santa to Other Countries (pg.145 bk.1) Live Appearances of Santa in America-A timeline (pg.149 bk.1) The Changing Image and Traditions Surrounding Santa Claus as Opposed to St, Nicholas and "Old World Traditions" (pg.153 bk.1) How Traditions of The Old World and New World Applied to Santa Claus (pg.157 bk.1) A new Tradition (pg.21 bk.2) Alternate Names from around the world (pg.180 bk.3) Character Development and Role Playing (pg. 172 bk.3) Santa's Elves (pg,188 bk.3) Old World Companions and Other Creatures (pg.192 bk.3) NORAD Tracks Santa and his Sleigh (pg.201 bk.3) GLONASS Tracks Father Frost (pg.204 bk.3) Candy Canes (pg.205 bk.3) Thomas Nast (pg.167 bk.3)
Three Methods of Learning (pg.3 bk.1) What separates a "Hobby" Santa from a Professional Santa (pg.27 bk.1) Negotiations and the Business of being Santa (pg.35 bk.1) Pricing your Service (pg.41 bk.1) Outsourced HR/Placement Agencies and How they work (pg.47 bk.1)How your Behavior can affect your continued employment (pg.53 bk.1) Business and the Santa Experience (pg.59 bk.1) Experience Matters (pg.67 bk.1) What can a Santa do the rest of the Year (pg.71 bk.1) Insurance Sources (pg.77 bk.1 reprinted with expanded material pg.61 bk.2) Taxes and You the Santa (pg.89 bk.1/reprinted pg.56 bk.2) A few words about Agents/Agencies (pg.6 bk.2) A sampling of Work opportunities from 2014 (pg.9 bk.2) Santa Schools and Educational opportunities (pg.23 bk.2) Listings for Custom made Santa Suits (pg.32 bk.2) Listings for "Off the Rack" Suits (pg.35 bk.2) Reasons to Cultivate relationships with a "Brick and Mortar" store (pg.38 bk.2) The Myth of the Refundable Deposit (pg.41 bk.2) Credit Card capture devices and a Caution in their use (pg.43 bk.2) How Blogs and your Hobby can Help you Earn Money (pg.48 bk.2) Copyright Material (pg.52 bk.2) Pay to Play Contract example (pg.121 bk.3) Section 3: The Performing Santa by Robert Seutter/Santa True (pg.84 bk.2) Wigs and Beards by Marianne F. Coleman (pg.64 bk.2) Hair Bleaching advice by Barbara Tompkins (pg.80 bk.2) Santa Suit construction and Care by Krissi Peters (pg.81 bk.2) A Topic that No One Wants to Approach (pg.21 bk.1) Ethics-What are they and How They Apply to the Santa World (pg.81 bk.1) The Checklist (pg.97 bk.1) Magic and Santa (pg.103 bk.1) Profitable activities for Mrs. Claus and Elves (pg.109 bk.1) Make up and Santa Image Enhancement (pg.115 bk.1) What Can a Santa say to Children (pg.119 bk.1) Storytelling By Santa-An Introduction (pg.125 bk.1) Lyrics for Songs Used as Stories (pg.33 bk.3) Alternate Props for a Santa presentation (pg.160 bk,3) Santa and the use of Magic in a Visit (pg.104 bk.3) Making use of Visual Properties to Introduce and Illustrate Story Lines (pg.37 bk.3)
I hope this helps answer some of the questions of what the SatBobS traveling Santa school is "about". Yours,
Santa Gordon Bailey satbobs.com
Many of you know that I shaved my beard completely off after Christmas. It was for personal reasons.
Before the holiday season started, I had told my wife that I was considering shaving off everything but my eyebrows after Christmas. She had commented that it had been quite some time since she' seen "the man she married" and that she loved my beard, but, if I were to shave it off, I had to leave the mustache. I told her that I would consider her request. I knew that I would look so much younger without the beard and 'stache, but perhaps leaving the 'stache would not make it where I looked drastically younger. And I told her that I was only shaving once with it starting to grow back immediately to be in the best shape possible for the 2016 holiday season.
Like everyone else, my body has changed over time. What was underneath my face frock now? That was my motivation to shave. So I did it. I came back from handing out presents at the hospital on Christmas Day morning, removed my outfit, put on some shorts and went into to get the trimmers. In an effort to surprise Reana, I had said to her in the prior week that I was reconsidering whether to just trim back or completely shave. She had replied each time that it was up to me. So when I passed her to get the trimmer, I told her that I was just taking off the head hair and trimming back the beard some. She was in conversation with her mother but said, "Okay" and went back to their topic. I went into the bathroom and closed the door, locking it to finally make sure the surprise was possible.
Then...it happened. I cleaned up, packed up the trimmer, broke out the razor and shaving cream and smoothed it out. "Holy crap," I thought to myself. I looked like a stranger. Lets see what my queen had to say. My mother in-law was the first to see me and her mouth dropped open. Reana had her back to me as I walked into the kitchen and she did not see the look on her mother's face, either. When she heard me walking up behind her, she stopped talking. As I do often, I stopped and put my hands on her shoulders. She reached up with one hand for my face and then looked up at me. Her mouth dropped open and she began crying. I came around in front of her and she buried her face in my smaller tummy and just caressed my face (I'd lost 22 lbs during the holidays). Then she said, "Why?" I told her that it was my plan all along and I what I said was an effort to surprise her.
Boy...did that work or what?!
I'm as vain as the next person. My mother would have said that I was more vain when I was a teenager. Vanity is about ego and I have tried to live my life with the character of St. Nick without ego. It is not easy. It takes work at putting others before yourself. It is something we all should do in our everyday lives. I call it the "Claus Effect" and its something every single person who chooses to portray the Jolly Old Elf should know & experience first-hand. If you don't, then you should consider your motivation. It can be life changing.
An unanticipated observation of this entire thing...the Claus Effect mindset did not leave me. It never crossed my mind before. But it makes sense. It is who I was all along but never really had anything to put it in the forefront of my daily thoughts like the Claus Effect had done. God knows what he is doing. Never doubt it.
The Santa and the Business of being Santa school (Also known as the SatBobS school) has begun its third year of operation. A traveling school I bring the education to your area saving you the cost of transportation, time and in many cases housing. In 2015 the SatBobS school drove through 17 states and held 10 classes.
Now I am working on the schedule for 2016. Had the first class in January in Sun City, California.
The class is presented over 2 days and includes 16 hours of lecture and full students receive all three textbooks totaling over 425 pages of material.
The cost of tuition is $225 per full student and sponsored students that share the books of the sponsoring student are $100. So a Santa with a sponsored Mrs. Claus would receive one full set of books to share and the cost would come to $325.
Returning students or any student that has any of the textbooks will receive a $50 refund/discount on their tuition. Sorry but the discount does not stack.
This Santa school addresses the fundamentals of being an independent contractor entertainer addressing the business end of being a Santa from how to negotiate a contract to taxes to expanding your market and includes examples.
The class goes on to cover the various connections you need to do the job well and easily, has some of the history of the character we call Santa and the formative influences that caused that character to form. How Santa has become a export back to the Old World and gives you some depth into the background of the character to help you portray him. Finally the class addresses performance and types of different performance classifications such as improv, story telling, magic, cooking, ...the list is rather extensive. Mrs Claus and elves are not ignored by any means! Profitable activities using these additional characters are discussed and in the case of Mrs. Claus several ideas on how to set up Mrs. Claus visits and activities that would have her out on her own performing in various ways. Included in the cost of tuition is several handouts, a diploma and for the full paid tuition student a complete set of text books for the class including :
Vol.1 Santa and the Business of being Santa
The starter book for my class. Covers a little of everything.
Vol.2 The Nuts and Bolts of being Santa
The book that contains connections to the people and businesses that support us in doing this work including those that hire us.
Vol.3 Santa and the Performing Santa
This book has performance tips, discusses performance Magic with an eye to fitting into a Santa visit. Story telling, Singing, Pay to Play contracts with an example, history of the Santa character and the different influences that caused the formation of the modern Santa.
All it takes is 8 students to have me come out to your area and hold a class. That and someone that will help me with finding the venue to hold the class.
So here is the updated list of where you will find the SatBobS traveling school and myself peddling my books and other wares.
2015 list of locations:
April 11th & 12th Simi Valley SatBobS school
April 25th - 28th Las Vegas Nationwide Santas event
May 4th & 5th Springfield Mo.SatBobS school
May 9th & 10th Memphis Tn. SatBobS school
May 15th & 16th Nashville SatBobS school
May 23rd & 24th Dallas SatBobS school
May 30th & 31rst Houston Satbobs school
July 24th & 25th Seattle SatBobS school
Remember, it only takes 15 Santas coming together and asking for a class to arrange for me to travel out to you. I have openings in June and August for further classes this year.
For information about the school or to pay for your tuition go to SATBOBS.com and look around. Use the PayPal buttons to order your books or class admission.
Santa Gordon Bailey
This is an unsolicited review of beard balms that I have tried. These are my personal opinion and are the results of my personal use. My beard is used for seasonal work so I have to keep it in the best shape possible. Thus, I am very particular to what I use. Take what you will from this. I hope it helps my fellow Santa Clauses and others who grow their own beards to decide what works best for them, or, if they do not use a beard balm yet, to start using one as it definitely improves overall beard health.
Wonder Balm, by Beard Commander: This was my first foray into a beard balm. As with most beard balms, their scent selection is limited. They currently offer their Original scent (prominently sandalwood), Supreme Peppermint (light scent), and Old School Pipe (strong yet smooth). This product comes out of the tin easily but might feel somewhat grainy at first. After rubbing it between your palms for just a few seconds, that graininess disappears completely. It is a really smooth application. Taking your time to work it in all the way down to your skin is the best way to get your money’s worth in a beard balm. A great side effect of Wonder Balm is that it also an excellent skin conditioner. Many who grow a beard know of the dry skin that can occur from time to time. One application and the dry skin goes away, completely. The scents are awesome!!! The Old School Pipe is my favorite of their current 3 scents. It can easily last well over 24 hours. The Supreme Peppermint does not last quite as long, but it lasts at least a full 12 hours, if not longer. The Sandalwood is the faintest of the three, but it has its unique characteristics, too; smooth, calming, and fresh. The softness of my beard is very apparent and it lasts all day. They even supply instructions on use and application. http://beardcommander.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1&zenid=df739d0de18c48863a28a3609f25e208
Bodacious Beard Balm, by Sleigh Master: This was my second product to assess. Their scent selection is quite varied, actually. They offer anything that Santa Claus could want; Candy Cane, Christmas Pie, Jingle Berry, Three Kings, Christmas Tree, and their latest, Secret Santa for those who just want conditioning and control but no scent to compete with other products that Santa might be wearing. The Sleigh Master has given quite a bit of thought into his product line. He also offers beard oils in the same scents as his beard balms. The consistency is nice and smooth, no graininess at all but like the smoothness of lip balm and thicker. The 2 scents I have tried are their Candy Cane and Christmas Tree. They are absolutely wonderful when opening the tin, very sharp, crisp, and fragrant. Application is smooth and easy to work down to the skin, too. This is less oily than Wonder Balm but it does not condition my skin under my beard as well. In fact, I will have some dryness at the end of the day on my chin like it is pulling oils out of my hair follicles and skin. The scents wanes after about 20-30 minutes and then it is gone except for the softness which lasts only for 3-4 hours. Another application is needed at that point. If you were to use the beard oil in conjunction with the beard balm, the scent will last longer and the softness does, as well, but this requires multiple applications throughout the day. http://www.sleighmaster.com/product-category/beard-balms/
Beard Balm, by The Art of Man: This was my last product to try out. They have quite a few scents, too; Angry Apple, Creed, Lust, Sniper, T3, and Winter Warrior. They also offer these same scents in oils, like Sleigh Master. The 2 that I have tried are Winter Warrior and Lust. These are similar in consistency to the Sleigh Master product as there is no graininess, just smooth, firm balm. The Lust is an awesome scent and seems like it would work well with a similar cocoa-scented cologne I have for Santa. The Winter Warrior has an over smell of spearmint and is nothing like I have smelled before, it seemed almost candy-like. Both scents also did not last long, like Sleigh Master. The softness lasted longer with this product than Sleigh Master. Their oil also helped rejuvenate the scent, but required multiple applications to keep it going. http://www.aombeards.com/shop/?category=Balms
Wonder Balm by Beard Commander is by far my #1 choice of beard balms. This is because these products do more than what is advertised by their scent lasts longer so much than any other beard balm I have tried. As I come across other offerings, I will post them, too.
Thanks for taking time to read through all of this. I hope it might help someone with keeping their beard in the best possible shape.
About 2 years ago, Santa Ian Loxton, Tim Connaghan and myself all came to the same idea at pretty much the same time and Tim coined the term "Santa Emeritus". Basically there comes a time when a Santa simply cannot do the work of being Santa due to illness, injury or simple old age.
That does not mean they have to hang up the suit and stop. There is a slowly maturing technology based Santa visit that has just had it's start in 2012. This is the "Video over the Internet" visit with families.
Now through "Video calls over the internet" there is another way for those that no longer have the strength, stamina or ability to travel and visit for an hour or hours at a time to continue to work. Back in 2012 they came out with "Your Santa Story" and that was the first attempt of a large scale marketing of this idea. It flopped due to some poor planning and marketing on the part of the developers but the idea survived and has grown. It was a mixture of a personalized DVD that was sent to the home for the family to watch and live or recorded over the internet messages.
Then came along the "Hello Santa" that was bought by JibJab last year. Also last year there was another entry called "Talk to Santa" and while they did not come close to meeting their goals, "Hello Santa" did show improvement from the first year to the second.Back about 2 years ago, You need a good solid and fast internet connection, a decent computer or laptop that can handle the information/data transfer and a good web camera. What has hampered the growth of this type of "visit" is two fold. First the public has to adopt it fully and there is some significant lag in this so far. Last year was the best response so far but there is a long way to go before this takes off.
The second and most important is the Santas themselves adopting the medium. You work from a split screen following a script and plugging in the information provided for the call. The problem seems to be not many of the Santas seem to be able to project the energy, eye contact and enthusiasm needed to carry off the interview.
Granted it is a new medium and even though the call may be "live" the Santa is alone in a room with a backdrop and a computer but no children to work off of. This is something older Santas will have to adjust to and work on in order to make this type of visit work for them. Younger, more tech savvy Santas have shown to be better able to adapt to this new medium but even then you need to be able to project your personality through the internet with energy and enthusiasm.
Improv training, Story telling training and even joining a Speech writers club might be helpful in getting better with this. But as this medium continues to improve and mature, NOW is the time to make the effort to become skilled in the ways mentioned here in order to be the kind of Santa that can and will thrive and grow with this new idea.
It started as a concept. A new story tradition. An amalgamation of "Old World" traditions brought to this "New World." Just like the banjo and the stumpt fiddle, "Santa Claus" was born here in America. From a small start the tradition grew as it embodied a new direction while keeping alive many of the old traditions.
First mentioned in print in 1772, as St. A. Claus. The new tradition left behind to the "Old World" many of St. Nicholas’s companions such as Black Peter and Kram…pus, Santa was a far more gentle and forgiving tradition.
As time passed, the tradition of Santa grew in popularity, so too did the stories and "touchstones" of the new "Santa." Used mostly as window dressing in the early half of the 1800’s, to draw customers to the stores, the image was defining itself as well with political cartoons run in the Harpers Weekly. Toward the end of the 1800’s, we saw the first "live" Santa performing in stores and on street corners ringing bells to collect funds for meals.
With the advent of the motion picture, the image of Santa and the associate traditions and stories rapidly grew and changed. With each military conflict involving America, wherever we went, so too did Santa. WWI, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield and all the conflicts since, saw Santa going to those lands to give comfort to our personnel.
In doing so, we exposed the local population to this tradition as well and Santa has been making great inroads in supplanting or replacing the older St. Nicholas traditions that may have been already in place there and planting the idea of Santa in lands that did not have such a tradition centered round the Christmas Holiday.
Now we see Santa working in places such as Mainland China, Japan, the Philippines and even Ferrari World in Dubai.
The traditions of Santa Date back less than 300 years where as the traditions of St. Nicholas go back beyond 1600 years! The change of the Santa image and tradition over the last 15 years is vastly greater than the change in the St. Nicholas image and tradition over the last 300 years
From time to time, we all encounter someone who is convinced that, “Magic dealers are ripping off magicians!”
The reasoning goes something like this: If a shop can afford to run a sale, then the shop’s regular prices are too high.
I have heard this claim firsthand from magicians in person and I have seen similar comments online. Recently, on a popular magic forum I read about a shop running a 40% off sale and the commenter said if the shop could afford to sell merchandise at 40% off, then retailers in the magic business must be making a killing.
FORTY PERCENT OFF!?!?!
I was intrigued, so I checked it out and sure enough the magic shop was running 40% off their catalog of magic tricks, books, and DVDs. It excluded any of their special-priced or one-of-a-kind items, but still, so much good stuff on sale! A lot of the discounted items were from
Magic shops don’t make the high profit magicians think they do.
This made me think that magicians really don’t understand what their local and online shops are going through post-recovery. Brick-and-mortar shops should be on the endangered species list. We’re talking hen’s teeth. And online stores come and go all year long, with only a scant few making it to five years. Selling magic is a tough business. I am always heartened by the shops that continue to push forward, against the odds, to be there for their loyal customers, and to spark the imaginations of the new generation of bearded hipster buskers, illusionists, and conjurers.
Margins are razor thin.
How much does a shop make when it sells a magic trick?
Answer: about 15-20% of the trick’s retail price.
Are you surprised?
If the shop sells you a $35.00 trick, they really only make about six bucks. Not a lot of profit considering labor costs, payment fees, insurance, rent, shipping to and for, server fees, utilities, and the time and expertise shared while selling you the greatest magic trick ever. By the way, that $6 profit only appears in the shop’s coffers if the magician paid full retail. Toss a 40% off discount into the mix and the shop just lost $7 on that $35.00 sale.
At 40% off, the customer is purchasing merchandise at the same price as the magic shops, but with zero risk.
So how can a “real” shop have a 40% off sale and make money? It can’t. The shop is not making any money on sale items at all. In fact, it is losing money. Its fervent hope is to make it up when the customer’s gaze falls upon a one-of-a-kind item that is exempt from the sale. There is also the hope that the sale will lure in new customers, be they pros or neophytes.
Magicians, take advantage of sales!
But remember whenever you buy anything over 15% off, the shop really isn’t making a profit. Consider also picking up an item exempt from the sale, or forgoing the sale and supporting the shop without a discount. C’mon! Throw the shop a bone once in awhile. Magic shops need your [full-price] support.
Now to translate that over to the Santa world it only takes you transposing the words "Santa Store" over the words "Magic Shop", and "Santas" over "Magicians" . Simply make the mental adjustments appropriate and you will see this applies to all kinds of entertainers.
So why shop a "Brick and Mortar" ? The benefits of networking. A shop is open 365 days a year mostly. It draws a lot of customers potentially looking for the services you provide. By developing a good working relationship with such a store in your area, you increase your chances of getting a gig you did not have to generate on your own.
You leave flyers, business cards and contact sheets with the store owner and if they like you, they hand them out to customers looking for the services you sell. Of course that means you need to be a reasonably good customer for this to happen. Drop in from time to time, pick up a pair of gloves or a prop if you see something that you could use in your act.
Yes it might cost a bit more than via the Internet but the added income from the jobs the store will generate for you is more than compensated. That and it is handy to be able to drop in last minute for that one item you need for a show!
When I first started out and began dreaming about great places for Santa to visit, I thought it would be great to visit a senior care facility. I figured the gray-haired kids needed a visit from Santa as much as any other children.
The goal got put on the back burner until last year, when I began working at a great senior care place that offers quality living arrangements for seniors--from assisted living, to skilled nursing, to memory care. I only got to do a couple of visits last year, which was fine, since getting acclimated to the new job took most of my energy.
This year the activities coordinator asked me to do 4 appearances, including the Family Christmas Dinner, and the end-of-the-year parties celebrating the programs that bring schoolchildren over to volunteer. I got to hold a 2-month-old girl while her mom snapped a few shots, I gave out candy canes to kindergarten and grade school kids, and I got to tell the older folks that they'd been on Santa's good list for many, many years, while their adult children took pictures of me with them.
So this year I got to visit with kids "from 1 to 92" and it was a fantastic experience! Since it's a Christian care center, I had the opportunity to bring the Reason for the Season into my visits, which made it even better. In addition to singing "Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer" we also sang the first verse of "Away in a Manger." At the end of the visits, I encouraged the children to "respect your teachers, listen to your parents, help those who need it, be kind to everyone, and remember that before there was Christmas, there was Christ." The capstone event was Christmas Eve morning, when Santa came to read "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" to the gray-haired children who had come with some of their great and great-great grandchildren.
All in all, Christmas 2014 goes down as one of the best ever.
This past weekend my husband and I had the pleasure of being Santa and Mrs. Claus at Pick Wick once again. My husband has been Santa for them since they began Pick Wick in the park 10 years ago. We have always had such a wonderful time and have been so blessed to participate in this event. Jason (Savannah Santa) has always taken his job as Santa very seriously, always looking for ways to become better. To me he is the perfect Santa.
Every year things have went along so smoothly, very busy, but an awesome way to spend the weekend. This year, however, there was an issue. There was a man and his wife staying at Pick Wick Inn, he was doing Santa elsewhere. On Saturday this couple checked out, but instead of leaving, he sat down in the lobby with his Santa hat on, while his wife went in the Holiday Mart and bought him a Santa Apron. He put the apron on and began being Santa, in the same area where my husband was. My husband being the wonderful, awesome Santa he is moved out of the area, because he was worried about the children. I am not sure who this man is, but he did a NO NO as a representative of the Santa brothers. Never, ever are you to do what he did. We attended a Santa class several years back and that was one thing we learned, never have 2 Santa's, portraying Santa where children can see both. I do not know if this gentleman is a member of Claus Net, but I am betting he is not. If he happens to be a member I hope he reads this and realizes what he did was wrong.
Most of you who know my husband, know that he is a younger Santa than most and works so hard as a bearded red head, to prepare each season. His feelings were hurt and he second guessed himself and his look, due to the fact that the much older, already white haired man, had a real Santa look. I tried to reassure him that the children absolutely love him and many believe in him.
So whoever this man might be, Shame on You for doing such an awful thing to the children and their Santa.
Various Credit Card Capture devices and Protocols
A cautionary tale included
There are now many different means of accepting Credit Cards and ATM Cards for payment. Care must be taken to use the devices carefully and correctly as otherwise you are in for a lot of trouble.
I have listed 6 that are popular and fairly recent onto the scene but there are more out there and they all have different percentage costs per "Swipe" and some include fees per "Swipe" or Monthly fees that are charged to you whether you use the device or not.
Most can be used with a internet capable smart phone just about anywhere you can find a WiFi connection or over your 4G network. The advantages of being able to offer this method of payment is obvious. You could make it easier for those that came to your Garage sale to buy that Moose Head! If you are operating a business as an entertainer, you can accept Credit Cards over the phone and in person at a Venue.
As with all things of modern convenience, there is a down side to this wonderful technology. It can be very painful to your finances if you do a show, sell an item or simply take a Retainer only to have it "Charged Back" to your account. Here are the words of experience of Carmen Tellez, a professional entertainer and business owner for many years relating how she lost about $1000 using PayPal as her means of accepting Credit for payment.
Carmen recently posted on a local Professional Face Painter's group about this problem and gave me permission to use her words. Seems her company CharmandHappy was not the only business that got stung by these people. One of the ways to fight the problem is to alert others in the community of the danger.
WARNING Will Rogers WARNING!!!
Friends whom are party biz owners. Beware!
There seem to be a ring of douchebag party theft of services in SoCal.
Last time I protected the names. But now I'm putting it out there
even though those may be fake.
Jay & Jasmine White
1416 96th in L.A. 90047
1417 96th in L.A. 90047
emails ordering from:
They are having lavish parties, charging total on card, then doing a chargeback as a fraudulent charge.
Many small party biz companies have now been a victim and another chargeback was reported just this morning.
(This caught my eye so I asked for more details from Carmen as she is a long time friend.)
" I should have known better. I originally said no charging total but thought with a paypal invoice linj itcwould be okay
Re: paypal they do not favor using system for deposits or services. Only oriduct deliveies with signature approving delivery. But a lil later tonight ill send specs"
"The client called to place an order for 2 ponies and a petting zoo. She asked to charge total amount to card. I let her know that we do not allow total charge on card. I sent her a PayPal Invoice. She paid $190. We communicated via phone, text, email and PayPal. About a month went by. She called to tell me that her mother wanted to hire for more time and pay with her credit card. I told her that her mother had to call me with that information. So she did. I sent her a PayPal Invoice. About a week went by when she called stating PayPal is having problems. I was not surprised. I took her request over the phone. She said this was a block party and since she is responsible for the balance in cash, she was afraid to have that much cash on hand, she'd rather pay the full balance with the credit card. I gladly accepted. $950 The party was September 13, 2014. A few days after party, $190 (the first charge) was charged back with a claim as Fraudulent Charge. Then September 25, 2014 the balance of $950 was charged back with a claim as Fraudulent Charge. I was informed via PayPal."
"I don't know if a stolen credit card was used or not. It could be they know the PayPal ropes and know they'll win due to my not knowing those tiny details better. Or it could be a stolen credit card. I have no idea."
Now there are some tactics that will help you in this situation, If you use one of these or a Bank Merchant services devise like my B of A capture dongle thatis linked to my Business account, you will generate a receipt to the client that will be emailed to them. When you go to the event or Party use the same cell phone to take a picture of the location, the hosts that are paying for the party and bring a Hard Copy of the receipt for them to sign for your records. Also take a selfie or two of you at the party as proof you performed there. These will strengthen your position if you have to go to court to collect.
Also when you take a credit card in person, ask to see a state identification card like a license. Copy the number of that ID onto your receipt as further proof you did business with the person making the charge. DO this also when you have them sign the Hard Copy you generated if they did this over the phone or by using a PayPal button on your web page. Again this give you the proof you were dealing with the person that made the charge and allows you to make sure it is their card.
This has been an expensive lesson and a hard one as well but well learned now!
The Myth of the Non-Refundable Deposit
This is why I never take a Deposit!
Has this ever happened to you?
"Hi, we were going to have you be Santa for our home party but we just decided to go to the Bahamas for Christmas instead. I know this is short notice but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the whole family and we just have to go! I know this is short notice but can we swing by and pick up a refund of our deposit in the next couple of days? Thank you and Merry Christmas!"
Now the first thing you might think is "My contract clearly states that the deposit is non refundable!" and your thoughts may run along the lines of "I held this date for them for months! Now a few days before the event, they want to cancel and get a refund?!? Fat Chance!"
Well my friends, the key word is "Deposit". And if you contract does not have wording such as "Monies paid as a RETAINER to hold the time and date retaining the services of the Independent Contractor shall not be refunded if the appearance is cancelled. Said RETAINER shall be applied to the total cost of the performance at the time of the event." By taking a retainer and holding the time and date for the event, you earned that money. By taking a Deposit against the total cost of the event, you have not earned anything until you do the work.
So what does that mean? No matter how many times in the contract you put in that the deposits paid are forfeit in the event of a cancellation, if it goes to small claims court, the judge is going to rule that the work detailed in the contract has not been done and that YOU therefore have to return the money. All of it. You don't so the work for any reason, you do not get paid. Period. There is no such thing as a Non-Refundable Deposit.
Here is the reason why. Your contract reads "Santa Inc. will provide 2 hours of entertainment performing as Santa for the family and guests present at the party on December 15th 2014 and all deposits collected will be applied to the total cost of the performance." What that means is when you arrive in court with your copy of the contract in hand and the Judge asks you "Did you perform as outlined in this contract?" Your answer will be "No, because they cancelled." The judge will the rule in favor of the person that cancelled the party as YOU did not do the work. You did not perform and therefore you did not earn the payment.
In short, a DEPOSIT pretty much means REFUND if you do not perform for any reason what so ever. Think about that for a minute or two.
A RETAINER is a different story all together. In your contract you should state that the "RETAINER is collected to hold your time and services for the date and time specified and that you will NOT accept any work or make any other reservations or accept any other clients for said date and time. For this reason, in the event that the client cancels the contract for any reason, all monies paid shall be retained by Santa Inc. in order to offset its loss of business.” This will then stand up in court as you will have earned the money by not taking any other business while holding that time and date for the client.
Retainer you get to keep, Deposit you have to refund.
Now over the last 32 years in the course of doing business, I have given partial and even full refunds. Not because I have to but because it was "Good Business" to do so. When you have a high profile client with lots of friends you would like to perform for in their homes and businesses, it is simply good business to accommodate a client that has a problem that keeps them from holding up their end of the contract.
IF I can afford to do so, IF the client is important to my business, IF they have been honest with me and it truly is out of their control, I will issue the refund cheerfully and promptly. As a very good and trusted friend, Mentor and fellow magician told me, it is all part of the game.
I became Mrs. Claus in 2007 when I married my Savannah Santa (Jason Smith). I discovered the true meaning of being Mrs. Claus during our first event together. We appeared at an Auction house in Crump Tennessee, which was for those children that show the true meaning of Christmas. They didn't ask for the expensive gifts, they asked for coats, shoes, clothes, a home, but these items were not for themselves, but their family. I left there that night realizing why my sweet husband was so passionate about being Santa.
Seven years have passed and his love for the season has rubbed off on me. This year I am more excited than ever. I quit my job this summer and am keeping our grandbabies, which gives me the ability to attend all the functions with my Santa. We went to the fabric store a couple nights ago and bought material to make Mrs. Claus skirts and Santa matching vests. We were like two kids in a candy store.
During the off season my Santa teaches special education. Although he loves his job, I know that his dream is to become Santa all year long. I have found a company that has all natural health products and is on the way to becoming a multi-billion dollar company. I am now a distributor/owner. I control my own future and in turn the future of our dream. I take several of the products and they really work. Our dream will happen and we will be healthy when living it. If any Santa, Mrs. Claus or elf is interested trying the products or becoming a distributor, just let me know. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a world full of healthy Santa's, Mrs. Clauses, and elves? Plus, the income that can be made will allow you to do so much more for your Santa business.
God Bless you all and I hope you have as wonderful a season as we are going to have.
We buried my brother, Denny, in August. His second heart attack in 8 days finally did what infantile hydrocephalus, 45 years of hard physical work, Lupus, inter-cranial bleeding and loss of his eyesight (in that order) couldn't do. He was 67 years old. Mom left us in the fall off '82 with a stroke. Pa went in the summer of '95, Alzheimers and prostate cancer. Norm, our neighbor growing up, died of alzheimers and old age a couple years back. Norm's brother, Merle, went the same morning as Denny. My best friend Ken, went a year ago last spring in an auto accident; Richard, a friend from high school, 10 years ago in an accident at work. And another half dozen or so...
I've reached that stage of life that Pa warned me about. I was complaining about having to put on a groomsman's monkeysuit (tux) for yet another wedding and he told me to shut up. He said, " Enjoy every single wedding you go to. The first half of your life is all weddings. The second half is all funerals." I didn't REALLY get it then. I do now.
Denny was, technically speaking, our half-brother; as Mom had been married and widowed before she married our dad. Denny was 17 when Mom and he came to the ranch. And in less than 4 years, he had 3 half brothers. And God blessed us with him. He fed us, changed our diapers, drove us to school functions, laughed when we did and cried when we did. Denny loved us, unconditionally. Every family should be so lucky as to have a Denny.
There's so much I could say; so much I want to say, but I'm not sure how. I could talk about Denny's huge heart and how he'd give you the shirt off his back. I could talk about his reliability, as rock solid as the eastern sunrise. I could talk about his love of country music or his being developmentally challenged. I could talk about his sunny disposition and the way neighbors lit up smiling when he'd walk in; or the profane teasing we all engaged in back and forth the way blue-collar boys and men do. And Denny certainly gave as good as he got in that department.
We got to spend some quality time with him that last week. And for that I'm very grateful. But it made the funeral that much rougher to get through. There was a good turnout for the sevice. Seems we wern't the only ones that loved ol' Denny. But then, most of these funerals have had pretty good turnouts. Which is logical, since funerals aren't really for the departed. They're thrown in the guest of honors name; but they're for us, the ones left here, trying to make sense of things.
And so, I'm sitting here tonight, going over the too long to-do list before the Santa season, and remembering, and laughing some and crying some; and ruminating; trying to make sense of things. Which will just drive you batty, I know. Because there's a lot of things I'll never figure out. But I do know one thing and that's that Denny loved me. He loved all of us. And we loved him. His love in our family wasn't a raging river, or a wild thunderstorm kind of love. It was the big boulder, the sign post, the landmark; that when you passed it you knew you were home. Because that landmark is always there and it always means that same thing. You're home. You're safe.
When I hold a little one on my knee, that's what I hope s/he feels. That feeling that Denny gave us...gave me. Home and safety. Santa's here with solid, boulder, landmark love for you. Here, at least, you're safe. Denny's gone now, but that love remains, It's part of me, the way it was part of him. He gave it to me. His first, best gift-that he ever gave me. And now it's my turn to give it to my grandkids. And to every kid who sits on my knee at Christmas.
Denny can die. I can die. But Santa can't die. And that kind of love...it never dies.
I'm hoping your upcoming season, and all your sesons yet to come, are full of that kind of love. Have a blessed Christmas.
Blogs, Writing and publishing. How they can benefit YOU!
I was thinking about this for a while now (I know, dangerous activity) and it occurs to me that folks "Blog" for many different reasons. Some like to share what is happening in their life at the moment. Others think it is a great way to share what they ate that day. Some,like myself like to share the experiences they have learned from to help inform others of possible "problems" they may encounter when pursuing a particular activity.
I have been blogging on the subject of being an entertainer/performer for several years at this point telling the readers what to look out for both good and bad. Several times the places I had posted the blogs on had folded up and closed, taking my writings with them. Bummer.
Now I write my blog on several "walls" in order to keep them available to share as well as keep track of.But what started as a way to share my experience and sometimes my opinions has now evolved into a way to generate a cource of income as well. No I am not talking about "selling" banners on your web site of linking your blog to an advertisement portal. I am talking about having your blogs published in book form.
I started a Facebook group called "Santa and the Business of being Santa" to build a recognition base on the social media.Part of that was to also share many forms of knowledge and experience I had gained working the entertainment industry as an Independent Contractor Entertainer. With an emphasis on the Santa Claus role and the Christmas entertainment industry but not limited to that alone.
The Blog was a very important part of that. SO were all the other files I included to help others find what they needed to get the job done.I then invited most of my fb "friends" to be members of this group. They in turn added to the files and invited their friends to join as well. And so on, and so on until today at this writing the membership numbers over 1500. Not a bad start for a little project.
The next step was to start a "Santa" school. I decided to use the same name for the school as I did for the group making use of that "recognition" generated by the growth and popularity of the SatBobS fb group. For the class I needed a text book so I looked towards the blog I had been writing for several years and reworked some of them to then make a book for the school. A little more complicated than it sounds but still it was easier than I expected.
Seems I am a very fortunate individual in that I happen to bump into people just when I need their help and advice. I was writing the book and getting it into shape with the major help of a very long time friend Gina Bacon and had managed to get it to the point I could then self publish my efforts for the school when I ran into 2 very talented people that offered their help in getting this published to a much wider audience!
The first was Santa TN. Stephen helped me with his incredible array of skills and talents by putting a web site together for me www.satbobs.com and giving me hours of advice helping me avoid many pitfalls while showing me better ways to accomplish my goals. Stephen also connected me to Charles Barnett.
I knew Charles in passing up until then but what I did not know was that Charles was the owner and operator of the North Pole Publishing House of Memphis, TN. and that he was looking for his first book to publish. Stephen put Charles and I together and again, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I turned the material over to Charles in March and both he and Stephen worked on it from then through to the end of May before submitting it to Amazon for publishing. Amazon published my book starting in June of 2014 and it has been a fun ride ever since!
Now why am I telling you this? Simple, have you looked through the titles and subjects available on Amazon? Instructionals, Self Help, Cook Books, Photo picture books, Crafts, Stories of all types and much more! Seems just about any one can and has written a book that can and will be published on Amazon. All over the world there are people that share an interest you might have and they would purchase your book if it interested them enough.So far copies of my book have been sold to people in Canada, England and Japan as well as here in the States and that is only since the book has been available since April and it went on Amazon in June. This next year will be an interesting experience to see how well it will sell.
At the end of each month the book sales from the previous month is directly deposited into my business bank account. I do not have to do anything more for that to continue. Amazon prints the books on demand, takes care of the shipping, handles the credit card charges and deals with the taxes. I just get a deposit in the bank at the end of each month
SO, if you write a blog and wish to correlate the individual articles into book form to have it published, I would give you this piece of advice. Go and contact the North Pole Publishing House @ 4728 Stage Road, Suite #1 Memphis, Tennessee 38128 to learn more about the process. Not only is this publishing house have very reasonable rates, they will also take you step by step through the process helping you "polish" the presentation of your book and provide you with proof reading and cover art if needed.
Then you too will be published and hopefully share your interests in a much wider arena while actually getting paid to write about what you love to do. I will be submitting Vol.2 to them in January for similar treatment since the first book went so well!
As always, I will leave this with a hope you find the activity you enjoy so much you would pay to do it, and then find a way to be paid for doing it. This is yet another facet of how this can be done in following the "Secret of Life", which was once a blog here and now section 5, page 17 of Santa and the Business of being Santa vol. 1.
May your season be Joyous!
Santa Gordon Bailey
Instructor and owner of SatBobS School
This is a 70 year old lump of coal given to me today by a very nice lady! She learned I was a Santa and had to give me a lump of coal! Lol! the book is only there to give scale of size of this puppy! Lucinda had kept this in her family from her Grandmother to her Mother and then to her sister to her and she gave it to me. This was from a Kaiser Steel mill originally.
I placed it on the book to give you a sense of size. I am working this "Return to Santa" into a story for this year's season. I will be using the "Lump" that was returned to Santa as a prop in the story while in the Downey Stonewood mall this year. If your in the area anytime after the 5th of November, come on down and see the Lump of Coal and possibly have your picture taken with it!
I recently went through a rough time due to side effects and withdrawal symptoms from a prescribed anti-depressant. I learned of some all natural products that have literally started changing my life in just 2 weeks of taking them. I feel wonderful, have more energy, and am losing weight. I also learned a lot about the medical field. Not one cure has been discovered in over 60 years and I believe the reason for this is the pharmaceutical field would be put out of business if cures were to be found. Our body is capable of healing itself if given the chance. Our body requires certain raw materials to do this. I started thinking how great it would be if our Santa's all became healthy, too. Thus, my new quote "Making Christmas Healthy, One Santa at a Time." I just wanted to see what kind of input I could get from all the Santa's, Mrs. Claus' and elves out there. Would love to hear what you guys think. My passion is driven by closing my eyes and picturing the sweet smiling faces of children, both young and old, when they see Santa.
Everyone has a reason for doing something in Daily life or Life in general. Surprisingly sometimes these go deeper that "Seemed like a good idea at the time." which is usually prefaced by "Hold my beer!" Since 1987 I have had an interesting peice of art work hanging on my wall where ever I call home. It is an "Artist's Statement" made by W. Dan Cantrell and though it caught my fancy back then, over the years I have come to appreciate the deeper meanings. I share with you today.
an "Artist Statement" I had purchased back in 1987 from the artist W. Dan Cantrell which goes as follows:
I do the work because I want to.
I do the work because I like to.
I do the work as a personal exploration of myself.
I do the work to engage other people in thought, perception and emotion.
I do the work because I have something to say.
I do the work because I have seen something beautiful.
I do the work because I have seen something ugly.
I do the work to be the kind of person I want to be.
I do the work because I know how.
I do the work to make money.
I do the work because I am an artist.
Those, in part are my reasons for doing this portrayal of Santa. I am sure there are more reasons that are just as valid unto the person centered on them. Please take the time to determine the reasons YOU do this performance.
Santa Gordon Bailey
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