WHEN LONG-TIME buddies and youthful entrepreneurs Jon Ressler and Chad Weaver decided to sell novelty slippers this holiday season, they figured they'd need something to set their kiosk apart from all the other carts that crowd the malls at this time of year.
Certainly, the employees would wear the big, fluffy slippers while at work.
But when Ressler's girlfriend made the outlandish suggestion that the employees wear pajamas, too, Ressler jumped on the idea.
"She was kidding. She didn't think we would actually do it," said Ressler.
Talk about rolling out of bed and going to work....
"At least everyone can tell who works here," Ressler said.
The gimmick has made their Fun Feet Slippers stand out at both Columbia and Annapolis malls -- and sent sales through the roof.
"We're on a pace to sell out the inventory before Christmas," said the 25-year-old Lancaster, Pa., native, who has known Weaver since the two were freshmen in high school.
"I was worried when I saw one of our employees show up in leopard-print pj's," he says. "But then I figured, what the heck."
That wasn't the reaction of Katie Riordan's mother when her 17-year-old daughter left the house to report for her first day at work -- in pajamas.
"I was walking by their cart around Halloween ,and I saw them in their pajamas and I said, 'You guys have the best job,'" said the South River High School senior.
"And they said, you think so? We're hiring.
"My friends are sooooooo jealous."
Katie certainly didn't look like she just rolled out of bed. Her hair was styled with a matching headband. She wore a necklace and a little black T-shirt under her moons-and-stars pj's.
I asked Katie, um, what if she has a date after work? Does she go out in her, ah, pajamas.
"Don't worry," she said laughing. "I have a bag of clothes in my car."
And, I thought, maybe that had been Katie's mother's idea.
Weaver and Ressler, who also operate kiosks selling custom-made clip-on sunglasses, bought two pairs of pajamas for each new employee, but that wasn't nearly enough to bankroll Linda Housted's sense of style.
The 52-year-old Edgewater resident has operated kiosks of her own and understands the push necessary to make these holiday novelty sales successful.
"I went on the Internet and I found a really nice shop and I bought pj's for every day of the week," she said.
"This is fun," she says. "But the most fun is to go and grab a bite to eat in the food court. The looks you get....I tell people that I sell slippers -- just follow me to my cart."
"She is just amazing," says Weaver. "Linda is one of the reasons we are doing so well."
Like Katie, Linda knows how to accessorize her pajamas. She accented one pair, which featured a sushi print, by using a pair of chopsticks to tie up her hair on top of her head.
"The hardest part is deciding what to wear to work every morning," she said.
And what to wear at night, too.
I asked Linda what she wears to bed.
"My husband prefers that I wear something, ah, a little more feminine than what I wear to work," she said.