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Seasoned Pros

Operating a seasonal kiosk keeps these partners on their mistletoes.

This story appears in the September 2004 issue of Start Up.

Everyone knows the crazed nature that takes over gift givers during the holiday season. No one knows it better than Michael DeAcosta and his three partners, who staff their 's Pen kiosk from November 1 through Eve at the Park City Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For seven weeks, their seasonal kiosk, offering personalized ornaments, stockings and frames, opens for business inside the mall and takes full advantage of the shopping frenzy that erupts every year.

Running their business during the busy holiday season requires staffing the kiosk during the mall's extended holiday hours. That makes Santa's Pen an extremely time-consuming commitment for the partners of Diversified Group-DeAcosta; his wife, Theresa; and Rick and Shelley Bortz. Rick, 45, owns a construction company, and Shelley, 40, owns a hair salon, so they're already juggling entrepreneurial ventures. Theresa, 36, a stay-at-home mom, must balance caring for her children and working at Santa's Pen when the holiday season rolls around. Michael, 36, a full-time teacher who also has a DJ business, finds that during the time Santa's Pen is open, he's putting a total of 110 to 120 hours per week into all his jobs. "[The holiday] time of the year is when most people are gearing down and goofing off," says Michael. "We don't get to do that until Christmas is over."

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