The hustle, the Pope and the profit
But no amount of moralizing will stop some people from trying to make a few bucks off of his historic U.S. tour, and Philadelphians are no exception.
With less than three weeks until Pope Francis lands in Philadelphia (Sept. 26-27), hustlers are Pope-ifying anything they can for profit. A quick stroll through online listings reveals more than just your basic memorabilia.
But first, the obvious. Tickets for the papal events at Independence Mall and Ben Franklin Parkway are extremely limited. Exactly 10,000 first-come-first-serve tickets went up for free online Tuesday, and the official website saw over 400,000 unique visitors. The tickets vanished in two minutes. Shortly after, some of those same tickets reappeared on Craigslist, a popular classifieds website — but this time for $100 to $1,000 a pop. Ebay is reportedly removing any for-sale posts for the free event tickets, but as of Wednesday morning these posts still remained. One seller offered two tickets to hear Francis speak out on immigration and religious liberty at Independence Mall, with a price tag of $1,500 each.
Mayor Michael Nutter said such opportunists would be considered "trifling" in the neighborhood where he grew up. But alas, you can't stop the hustle.
Smaller (arguably more ethical) bucks can be made on Pope-themed memorabilia.
Retailers across Center City began displaying their Pope wares in early July. Stenciled t-shirts and baseball caps were going for $8. "I home on the internet.
More goods seem to emerge as P-day gets closer. For instance, you can buy this black t-shirt that depicts the Pope wearing an Eagles jersey. This Philly-made photo necklace is yours for $25 or best offer. One artisan hustler, perhaps rightly seeing that Christmas is just down the road, has made the Pontifex into a holiday ornament.
Philadelphians are even throwing their commemorative pizza boxes up on Ebay. Hopefully not used, but who cares? It's only $1.