Mall Santa Recruitment: Only Real White Beards Need Apply

Image courtesy of Cakefarm

Fake beard, not overweight. Do not hire. (Cakefarm)

Fake beard, not overweight. Do not hire. (Cakefarm)

Where do the finest mall Santas come from? It’s not just anyone who is able to terrify children who the finest malls want to hire to rule over the North Pole and its lucrative photo business. There’s a special company that recruits and employs hundreds of Santas nationwide. While Santas vary, for some malls only the very best St. Nicks are suitable.

CNN profiled one Santa employment firm, New Jersey’s Cherry Hill Photo, a company that just does Santa photo opps. It has about 400 Santas in 300 malls, and fake beards and fat suits are not acceptable at their version of the North Pole. Finding new Santas can be sort of like scouting for models: the company’s president says that most of their new employees come from referrals. One old guy who looks like Santa discusses his job and recruits others. Others are people who employees spot out in public: year-round, they’re looking for men with fabulous white beards.

Santa’s ethnicity isn’t important, but he needs two important characteristics: he needs to be elderly, and he needs to have a real white beard. Recruiting older St. Nicks isn’t just about casting the character how most Americans think of Santa: it’s also about flexibility. By casting older men who are retirement age, Santaland gets workers who are flexible with their hours during the whole pre-holiday period. Of course, they also need to be good with children and have good people skills in general. Being able to visit every household in the world in a single night is, fortunately, not required.

Being a mall Santa isn’t a bad gig for a retiree: a six-week stint can earn him up to five figures.

Mall Santa 101: The making of the perfect Mr. Claus [CNN]

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