Santa Pretender Makes $1 Million A Year
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Byron Reese Story
Byron Reese Started his company, SantaMail.org, which sells fully personalized letters from Santa Claus all across North America (they're even postmarked from North Pole, Alaska, to give them an authentic feeling). Reese sold 10,000 letters in 2001, his first year in business. Though holiday sales have increased every subsequent year, he still looked for ways to expand his offering. Now, parents can order birthday cards for their children from Santa as well. The strategy pushed 2005 sales to $1 million.
Still, the key to Reese's success is organization. After realizing he and his staff didn't want to pull the marathon 36-hour shifts they did the first year, he looked to outside vendors to help with the yearly rush. He also deals with any problems as soon as the rush is over, and then starts planning for the next year. By February, he's up and running. "The temptation is to not start working until you get close to that season, and we've made that mistake in the past," says Reese, 37. "Things always take a lot longer than you think they're going to take. We find it much better to work steadily."
"When I was a child, my parents would give us letters from Santa. My mom died three and a half years ago, and I wanted to do this to honor her," says Byron. "I entered it with low expectations, but we sold 10,000 the first year." The magic of Christmas is a serious trust to Byron, so he implemented a rigorous quality-control program that has multiple people (his elves) checking each letter, ensuring complete accuracy on each one, as well as on a birthday card from Santa and the post-Christmas 'Greetings from Hawaii' postcard from a tanned, beach-bound Santa.
Byron's childhood Christmas memories include installing 200 strings of Christmas lights and decorating dozens of Christmas cookies each year. He loves the look on the postman's face when he goes to buy 40,000 Santa stamps at the post office each Christmas. What's next on this Christmas devotee's agenda?
"Someday I hope to deliver coolers of snow to people in hot climates."
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