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Businesses attempt to profit from shutdown

In the true spirit of American commerce, a handful of companies tried to spin last week's government shutdown debacle into a profitable marketing opportunity.

Some did better than others.

POLITICO reported that some Washington bars had extended their happy hours-to all day in some cases - to give furloughed workers an opportunity to ease their sorrows with their friends while enjoying reduced-price drinks and food.

One bar reported seeing a 50 to 75 percent increase in customers after the shutdown, as many government workers searched for a way to deal with their idled hands.

While the deals would likely eat into the bars' profit margins as the shutdown drags on, some operators said it was worth it to maintain their customer base.

"If there's anything we learned from the big recession that happened in 2008, it's that restaurants and hospitality-driven establishments really survive when they take good care of people," said Eric Santiago, general manager of one D.C. bar.

 That's a good business lesson in general. It's similar to the attitude many local businesses had following last year's derecho, staying open without power to help customers in any way they could.

Meanwhile, there have been some more, let's say, unscrupulous attempts at profiteering during the shutdown.

(Let me go ahead and note that the following releases were not obtained from any lists that I personally subscribe to. Rather, they are simply the unfortunate byproduct of having your e-mail address listed at the bottom of every story you write.)

About 15 hours into the shutdown last Tuesday, online adult retailer - do NOT look them up while you are at work - sent out a press release saying that until the government goes back to work, its U.S. customers deserved to get 25-percent off on all of its products.

"We will not idly sit by as the two parties argue," company executive Jeff Dillon said in one of the few quotes from the press release I feel comfortable repeating.

While the deal was open to virtually all U.S. residents, the company said one small group was exempt: Members of Congress would not be eligible.

"We know who you are, and you are paying full price!" Dillon said.

The most entertaining (or revolting, depending on your perspective) press release came Thursday from the marketing department.

It was titled, "Government Shut Down Leads Women to Sugar Daddies."

The dating site, which says it tries to match single women up with wealthy suitors, said it had seen record sign-ups as the shutdown began.

"Every time the government makes a decision that affects the financial well-being of millions of people, our site continues to thrive," company founder Brandon Wade said in the news release.

Wade went on to say, "Obama once said, 'Successful Americans do want to give something back, and no one finds success on their own. You didn't build that, someone gave you help along they way.' Someone like sugar daddy."

After reading that, all I can say is let's hope this shutdown ends soon, because I shudder to think what someone might come up with next.



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