It used to be a truism that anyone needing work had a shot at landing a seasonal job as a store Santa. But this year, Santa bosses are telling the Reuters news agency that aspiring Clauses won't cut it unless they already have a natural, full white beard.
Still, for those who've given up shaving and dieting since the downturn began, the payoff could be big. Even in the depressed economy, a Santa can earn $20,000 - and a star performer can get $30,000 for the short holiday season, "experts" tell Reuters.
But those with glued-on hair need not apply.
"Our goal is to enhance the child and the parents' experience," said Nick LeMasters, general manager of Denver's 1.1-million-square-foot Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
To that end LeMasters has one major requirement when seeking a Santa: "that they be naturally bearded."
"Santas with their own beards earn more money," said Rick Eggeseiecker, sales director of SantaPlus, a St. Louis, Missouri, company that places photogenic Santas in more than 300 malls across the United States.