Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jobless Tap Power of Merchandising - Wall Street Journal

Stephanie Aucoin got a job offer the same day she was stopped in an elevator by an executive who noticed her new yellow wristband with "Laid Off Need a Job.com" embossed with black letters.

The executive, who was a chief financial officer at an alternative energy company, was looking for an assistant and told her to stop in to meet with him. "I did," says Ms. Aucoin, 48 years old, who started the new job in March after being laid off from an executive-assistant position at a local accounting firm last September.

The silicone bracelet -- think of Lance Armstrong's Livestrong original version -- was an idea Ms. Aucoin, of Sarasota, Fla., developed with Barbara Bourn, 59, a former colleague.

Courtesy LaidOffNeedAJob.com

Hopeful entrepreneurs, most of whom have lost their jobs, are capitalizing on layoffs while also highlighting the plight of the jobless. They are dreaming up layoff-related merchandise, offering wristbands, mugs, T-shirts, board games and more to the recently unemployed -- whose ranks are growing. More than 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007, and more cuts are expected in the coming months.

Padding dwindling bank accounts is what originally motivated Ms. Aucoin and Ms. Bourn. "We needed to find a gimmick" to earn money, says Ms. Bourn, who was forced to sell her house after her hours in an interior-design sales position were cut back.


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