Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

GARDINER - "Need a personable, entertaining and helpful family to stand in at your wedding for your ill-mannered kin?
ERIK PETERSEN/CHRONICLE The Roberts Family, including Jim, Joni, and their children Emma, 9, Bennett, 7, Preston, 4, and Fiona, 1, pose for a photo in front of their Gardiner-area home. The family is available for rent on eBay, an idea they came up with as a unique way to make money in challenging economic times. Thinking of going on vacation, but don’t want to go alone?Trying to learn English and want some practice?No problem. There’s a family of six here for rent.“We’re all immunized, healthy, carry U.S. passports, non-smokers ready for your next assignment,” states the ad posted on eBay by the Roberts family.

The Roberts - Jim, 42, Joni, 39, Emma, 10, Bennett, 7, Preston, 4, and Fiona, 1 - are available for everything from family reunions to product endorsements.“I did put on the ad, ‘university testing,’ too, and I’m a little concerned about that,” Jim said this week. “I can see someone saying, ‘Here, take this.’ … The whole family?”The Roberts’ going rate is $250 per day, though they will not engage in anything illegal or immoral. And, any travel expenses must be paid and materials related to the job supplied.“If they want us to walk around in banana costumes, they have to supply the banana costumes,” Jim said, grinning.Jim and Joni say they hope their entrepreneurial venture will help them make a living in this economy, allow them to spend more time with their kids and make it possible to stay in the remote Montana town at the edge of Yellowstone National Park that they love so much.The Roberts’ kids are home schooled so they could go anywhere, at anytime, Joni said.“We thought in this economy, with things the way they are, we’ve got to be creative and we’ve got to kind of think outside the box,” she said. “How can we make money while we’re working together?”The family moved to a house that Joni’s family owns on the Yellowstone River last spring, after work slowed down at Jim’s job as a surveyor outside Seattle.Jim got the “Rent-A-Family” idea after seeing a help-wanted ad on Craig’s List seeking a family for a video being filmed in the area.“Maybe there’s someone who’s old and they don’t have any grandkids, but they’re taking a cruise around the world and wish they had some to share it with,” Jim said. “Why not us?“Or hey, rent the whole family to wear your company’s shirts,” he said. “We’ll be your custom representatives.”Or, Joni chimed in, “We could fill in the groom’s side” at a wedding. “The bride’s side always has a large amount of people.”The Roberts’ kids are on board with the idea. Under the pay scale the family has worked out, when they’re working, each kid would get $1 per day for each year they are old."
Who's story is this? All that is past possesses the present.

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