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-   -   PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle (http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/showthread.php?t=557788)

El Diablo 11-30-2007 04:54 AM

PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
OK, so here's the deal. I was pondering two questions today. I thought there was a slight chance these threads might make for decent EDF threads, but a good chance that they quickly result in just pretty retarded discussion. But, whatev, I can lock threads, so here goes.

Don't answer this question unless you have an economic/business/sociological aspect to your post. XXX would rule!! or XXX sucks or BEGGARS SUCK or whatever are all idiotic responses, so don't make them. Thanks. If you think the thread sucks, just ignore it, it'll get locked soon enough if it sucks.

So, having said all that, here's the question.

If you're a panhandler w/ no skills (ie: you can't wash windows or tell jokes or sing songs) and all you can do is have a sign and hold out a container for people to pitch money in, what's the best location?

Here are some I've seen a lot of panhandlers on. I'm curious, from an economic and sociological perspective, which of these you think are the best places. I'll add my thoughts later.

1: In front of Starbucks/coffee shop
2: In front of bar
3: In front of restaurant
4: On street in business/financial district
5: On street in shopping district
6: On random neighborhood street
7: At busy corner/intersection

Those are just a few. What would be your place of choice if you had to get by holding out a cup and hoping for people to give you money?

Assume that we're talking averages here, so given panhandlers of all types, where is the best average take?

Ship Ship McGipp 11-30-2007 04:58 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I've got shopping district first, bar second, starbucks third.

WhoIam 11-30-2007 05:07 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I would say Starbucks. Almost everyone walking out will have change from their purchase. People who frequent Starbucks seem like the kind of people who genuinely believe giving money to a panhandler is a noble act.

edit: Goofball is right, most people would put the change in the tip jar.

goofball 11-30-2007 05:08 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
1. Eh. Lots of people have already dumped their excess change in the tip jar.
2. I think there's a small but real chance some drunk guy decides it'd be fun to kick you around.
3. MMM, leftovers. Plus people (from all strata of society) who are feeling satisfied are likely to be more generous
4. Eh, rich people didn't get that way giving away their money.
5. Not sure yet.
6. Awful.
7. Busier is better.

First choice 3, second choice 7. If I can't accept food or count it in the value of the spot or whatever than reverse those two.

hanster 11-30-2007 05:20 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
1: In front of Starbucks/coffee shop
2: In front of bar
3: In front of restaurant
4: On street in business/financial district
5: On street in shopping district
6: On random neighborhood street
7: At busy corner/intersection

[/ QUOTE ]

While coming back from work today a homeless retired vet was asking for money at the stop light. The stop light always takes 2~3 minutes to change to green so he obviously was smart enough to camp there (it was an exit off of a freeway. For those in LA: Exiting on Santa Monica 2 going North on 405) and he would just knock on every single car. I think he got some change from couple of cars the duration the car was stopped for.

Would subway/bus stations be counted as a busy corner/intersection? That was my first thought before I even opened the window. I also thought about Starbucks but realized I just toss the change into the tip jar, especially if the barista is cute.

I cannot see a panhandler in front of NYSE or any of the financial buildings in NY or any big cities like LA, SF, etc. Being in front of a bar is not that great of an idea either, I remember seeing people kicking the panhandlers in Asia and wouldn't be too surprised to see the same thing happens here.

Shopping district, which should include a movie theatre and a lot of place for dates, is a decent place but I never see them around probably due to the security guards.

Busy corner/intersection (subways) > Shopping district > Random Neighborhood > Restaurants/Starbucks > Biz/Financial District > Bar

El Diablo 11-30-2007 05:23 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
hanster,

I would consider subways and other similar public transit spots to be a separate category.

hanster 11-30-2007 05:31 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
If that's the case, it'd be subway > busy intersection then.

Also, I forgot to mention gas stations. That would be a pretty good place to start, especially with the "my car needs $5 for gas to get to my aunt's house" stories.

Elevens 11-30-2007 07:52 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I have to go with the busy intersections. If you're stopped at a red light and you see someone knocking on windows asking for money (whether it be for charity or begging), you have a few extra moments to feel unnecessary guilt, because you're often unable to move past the person quickly. You have to sit there and potentially look like a cold-hearted ass, rather than moving on and forgetting about it. This usually results in "donations".

EDIT: Although, a subway has a helluva lot more people, so this is probably even better, regardless of the prolonged guilt trip.

Starzinger 11-30-2007 08:23 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Anywhere with alot of students? They might not have alot of money, but they do seem to have easier to part with them than alot of richer people. At least here in sweden, students give more to charities than any other group

Tony_P 11-30-2007 11:24 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
I would say Starbucks. Almost everyone walking out will have change from their purchase. People who frequent Starbucks seem like the kind of people who genuinely believe giving money to a panhandler is a noble act.

edit: Goofball is right, most people would put the change in the tip jar.

[/ QUOTE ]

I was thinking this exact thought. I think the people who would think it's a noble act to give $$ to a panhandler probably put bills in the tip cup and still have loose change.

Porcupine 11-30-2007 11:30 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I think busy intersections, because your targets are stuck right by you waiting for the light. Also, people are used to the idea of panhandlers at intersections and everyone has seen someone hand money out of the car window.

Is knocking on the car windows that common? Around here they don't really approach the cars unless someone holds money out of their window. That said, I think knocking on the windows would really increase your take. Recently, I gave money to some tweaker that surprised me at my car window - partly because it was a girl, but also because she was "right on top of me" and harder to ignore.

AZK 11-30-2007 11:56 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
side note:

How many of you dump the change when going to starbucks? I do this frequently.

DrSavage 11-30-2007 12:14 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I think you missed the most important and likely the most profitable panhandling spot of them all: by the church.

skier_5 11-30-2007 12:47 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
At night I'd be inclined to panhandle outside of a convenience store in an area with lots of nightlife. You're gonna get drunk people going in and buying stuff and getting change (and not leaving it in some tip cup most likely).

RERAISE5823 11-30-2007 12:51 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I have no idea where would be the best spot, but I wanted to share a thought I had.

I've recently moved from NY to western Colorado (snug between Aspen and Vail). In NY, homeless are plenty and generally they adopt a passive posture on a main street like 3rd or 5th Ave, outside stores, bakeries etc... I'd usually drop my change after buying a sandwich or coffee. Occasionally I'd give more, like $5 or something, generally when someone looked alert (i.e. not drunk) but pretty helpless.

Here in CO, there is one major roadway from my home to Aspen. Pretty much everyone in the valley travels the roadway between 8-10AM and back between 4-7PM. There's always someone with a sign at one of the lights about halfway to Aspen, a light which stops for longer. I believe that the townships frown upon panhandlers actually doing their thing IN the town, so they choose the most likely spot to get people coming and going.

The real reason I wanted to respond was because of a link I perceive between ELD's other post about larger tipping, and this one about panhandling.

I feel that in our currently depressed economy, I'm more likely to tip and give money to panhandlers than I would be during flush times. The only reason I can think for this is because I feel fortunate to have a good job, even though I am making the same or slightly less (I'm full commission) than I was last year I'm more likely to help someone in need out now.

PITTM 11-30-2007 01:23 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
1: In front of Starbucks/coffee shop-Seems like a fairly decent idea. Lots of women who are more sympathetic, lots of people with change, etc.

2: In front of bar-Pretty bad, but high variance I would guess. You would probably be harassed a good bit, not get any real steady cash flow but I imagine with drunks around you might get bills from time to time.

3: In front of restaurant-Horrible, people who are eating in a restaurant are usually in a hurry, kind of short of temper and usually pay with credit, as opposed to starbucks, which probably gets more change.

4: On street in business/financial district-This is probably the worst if not the bar. Lots of people who look down on you more than average/really try keep as much for themselves as possible. I feel like this would be the worst, especially with the psychological effect of being surrounded by people with a ton of money.

5: On street in shopping district-Very good, maybe better than starbucks, people are happy, have lots of money readily available, and although most stuff is bought with credit a lot of smaller things will be bought with cash, meaning these people will be carrying change. These people are desperate to offload money any way possible.

6: On random neighborhood street-Pretty bad, people can easily avoid approaching you and would just drive up to their house, go inside and ignore you.

7: At busy corner/intersection-On one hand, kinda sweet because you have a ridiculous amount of traffic passing you. However, you have to deal with a few adverse factors like: people not stopping, people not even rolling down their windows and ignoring you, being surrounded by super polluted air all day.

For me, I would go shopping district, starbucks or maybe like a university campus or something with a bunch of super compassionate liberals or something.

Pyromaniac 11-30-2007 01:36 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
it's a good point that's been made that Starbucks might seem like a good spot until you realize the tip jar is sucking away your profits.

...and how easy is it to say "oops sorry I put my change in the tip jar" even if you didn't...

Also,

[ QUOTE ]
Assume that we're talking averages here, so given panhandlers of all types, where is the best average take?

[/ QUOTE ]

should we factor in "average time before you get chased off"? cities differ, of course, but I'm thinking again, that while Starbucks seems like a sweet spot to stake out, that a lot of places are going to run you off of the sidewalk before it has a chance to be profitable.

side note of my own: what if you're panhandling for a charitable cause? What's the best spot to be a bellringer for the salvation army, this time of year? I always see one outside a Sam's Club - and while people wheel a ton of stuff out of there, most of them, I'm thinking, have paid w/ a check or plastic and have no leftover change from the transaction. and again, it's a lot easier to blow by the guy when you're pushing a full cart of stuff and have both hands tied up anyway.

best place: I'm thinking busy intersection. You have a new set of possible donators every time the light changes, and that's more than the turnover of a starbucks. also, people have to sit there and wait and get uncomfortable--they can't keep just walking past you. And, finally, when someone *does* hand something out the window, it's usually some green, not change. so when someone does give, you get more.

punkass 11-30-2007 01:38 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
You need to be places where people have coins.

Financial district sucks -- no one has change.
Restaurant/bar sucks because everyone uses credit/debit cards or rounds to nearest bill with tip.
Shopping District sucks because of same credit/debit issue.
Random neighborhood street corner -- someone will probably call the police on you. They'll say they saw you doing drugs or something to get you away.

Busy corner sounds good. With plastic being accepted everywhere, including fast food, no place is good anymore.

Pyromaniac 11-30-2007 01:38 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think you missed the most important and likely the most profitable panhandling spot of them all: by the church.

[/ QUOTE ]

does that include "making change" from the collection plate?

adanthar 11-30-2007 01:50 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
The subway by a mile. The regulars in the NYC subways supposedly make 20-30K a year. It's hard to beat that without the captive audience.

Related to this, if you perform some kind of added service (playing an instrument, selling newspapers/old magazines/dollar store castoffs you picked up, making people laugh), your profits go up, too. This is easier to do in a location where people walk slowly, there are lots of couples out on dates, and they have spare change. Starbucks/shopping district areas are therefore better than the rest of the list, but you still can't beat the subways.

why do I know these things [img]/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

ClassicBob 11-30-2007 02:02 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
As pyromaniac mentioned, panhandlers don't last long in front of any Starbucks I've ever worked at. I run them off immediately.

wet work 11-30-2007 02:03 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I think one of the best spots is a busy intersection with a dedicated turn lane/it's own light. Particularly the ones with a median strip. There's a new crop of customers every couple minutes and it seems like they get some donators every light change. Plus they have the extra time to score from the people in the lanes that are just going forward.

Tourist areas seem to be hot spots as well.

Bars, especially areas with a lot of bars in close proximity, are probably hit and miss but with the opportunity for some random big scores.

I saw a guy last week with a sign "Donations 4 Weed" and couldn't resist contributing to an old guys bong hit fund.

astroglide 11-30-2007 02:52 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
there was a salvation army bell-ringer in the entrance of a grocery store i visited last night, and he made me wonder how much credit/debit card transactions have decreased their take over the years. i know that i basically never have change, and if i do it ends up straight into a cupholder in my car or series of jars at home. carrying it around irritates me.

Iconoclastic 11-30-2007 02:54 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
El D:

thinking bout a new line of work?

One that hasn't been mentioned is a place with a lot of poor people. I find that relatively poor people are a lot more sympathetic to panhandlers than rich people and are much more willing to give. So a safe location in a poor neighborhood is probably a better bet than a similar location in a rich neighborhood.

fnord_too 11-30-2007 05:23 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think you missed the most important and likely the most profitable panhandling spot of them all: by the church.

[/ QUOTE ]

I like this answer, though you are pretty much restricted to service times and lowish volume of people, so if you had to do all your begging time there it is probably not so hot.

So what criteria make a good begging spot:
High volume of passers by
Passers by who have change, spare money
Passers by who don't hate giving money to destitute strangers on principal (or due to fear)
Tolerance to beggars (i.e. not somewhere the establishment is going to call the cops on you).

I think a non essential shopping area (like a busy mall) would be good if you could pull it off. I think the psychological factor of your potential benefactors spending money on extraneous items while you are struggling to even eat is a plus. Tough question. (I think outside a bar is horrible though for many reasons.)

Jon1000 11-30-2007 06:07 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I agree with the college statement. Generally, students don't have as much disposable income, but are far more likely to give. On a fairly busy campus you will have bars, restaurants, libraries, student centers, etc. Basically, there's a ton of foot traffic and because of classes, the foot traffic is constant throughout the entire day. There was one pan handler in college who was seen driving to beg. i think the number of other pan handlers, the size of the student body, and the willingness/unwillingness of campus security to deal with you would drastically change things.

FlyWf 11-30-2007 06:12 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
At night I'd be inclined to panhandle outside of a convenience store in an area with lots of nightlife. You're gonna get drunk people going in and buying stuff and getting change (and not leaving it in some tip cup most likely).

[/ QUOTE ]

But you're going to get run off by the people who work there. You want a spot where you can really post up and not have to worry about that. Mall parking lot seems like a decent idea.

RustedCorpse 11-30-2007 06:46 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
An ex girlfriend of mine would panhandle in various parts of NYC and record the results. It was about ten years ago but she swears by fifth avenue subway entrances.

limon 11-30-2007 07:34 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
you have to assume bums know what theyre doing and gravitate/go back to places where they make the most cash. the bum/person ratio at university campus is the highest and it gets higher as the campus gets more liberal. eugene and berkely are just bum heaven. in 2nd place id choose a coffee shop but peets is defn. better than sbux and something more hippie would even be better. if you were at peets w/ a dog youd prob make over $100 a day.

J.A.Sucker 11-30-2007 07:39 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
you have to assume bums know what theyre doing and gravitate/go back to places where they make the most cash. the bum/person ratio at university campus is the highest and it gets higher as the campus gets more liberal. eugene and berkely are just bum heaven. in 2nd place id choose a coffee shop but peets is defn. better than sbux and something more hippie would even be better. if you were at peets w/ a dog youd prob make over $100 a day.

[/ QUOTE ]

Independant coffee shop in Boulder or Berkeley = Greatest place on earth for panhandling. Limon is correct (as always).

xxThe_Lebowskixx 11-30-2007 07:44 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Starbucks first, the rest seem horrible.

That Foreign Guy 11-30-2007 07:47 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
I think you missed the most important and likely the most profitable panhandling spot of them all: by the church.

[/ QUOTE ]

Hell no. Religious people in general are much more likely to give to religious institutions / charity than directly to beggars.

Shopping district seems like the favourite to me.
Bar if you have skillz of some sort.

centaurmyth 11-30-2007 07:49 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
i saw 2 guys killing it with a cardboard box of kittens in Times Square around the holiday season last year. just a box with 8 or so kittens and a box in front of it for the money. no hype, no active panhandling, just loads of tourists gawking and giving. the only reason i noticed the 2 guys were their ear-to-ear grins. they were silently keeping an eye on the money box about 2 rows back from the crowd that couldn't take their eyes off the kittens and wonder their plight... crowded foot path with non-intrusive gimmick ftw.

bigbootch 12-01-2007 09:10 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
[ QUOTE ]
Hell no. Religious people in general are much more likely to give to religious institutions / charity than directly to beggars.

[/ QUOTE ]

I happen to disagree with your opinion here, but even if it were true, that would still not preclude in front of a church as the best panhandling spot. Even if they are more likely to give to institutions than directly to beggars, it could still be the case that they give directly to beggars at a higher rate than non-religious people.

Anyway, surprisingly I haven't seen anyone mention the following so far: peer pressure. I think this is the single biggest factor, not whether they have change or not. What I mean is, panhandling at a spot that is likely to have groups of people walking by, where the people in this group have some incentive to make themselves look good. If even one person in this group gives to the beggar, the rest will give also instead of standing there looking like an [censored]. Even if none of them would have given to the beggar independently, they may now do so to try to look good.

Now, where might be the best place for this, I'm not sure. The first place that comes to mind is a higher-end restaurant, where people are more likely to be there on dates / business meetings / other situation where there is incentive to impress the others, versus like a Bennigan's where it's probably some 60 year old couple or whatever.

-bigbootch

React1oN 12-01-2007 10:14 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Centaurmyth that's a pretty cool observation.

In direct reference to this thread though, I think the top ones would have to be: Busy Street Corner, Starbuck's, Shopping District.

As other's have mentioned, Starbuck's is hurt by getting run-off etc; Shopping District hurt by everyone and their grandmother's using credit cards now, etc.

I think that out of El D's possible locations, busy intersection wins, assuming there is some light lasting a medium to long length, and I also think that a lower-middle to middle-class neighborhood is the best possible location for this, because the people are more understanding, and will likely "donate" more, as well as a lower chance they'd call the cops, etc.

In general though, I think Subway is probably the best as other's have mentioned.

SlowHabit 12-01-2007 11:39 AM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Any place that has lots of girls walking around. It's not that the girls will give beggars moneys [though some might], it's the pressure/ego of giving moneys to the beggars in front of the girls.

A.P. Keaton 12-01-2007 01:21 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
I live and work in downtown Chicago and encounter panhandlers at least 10 times a day. At least for Chicago, I say the best location is a shopping district on the weekends. First, you have a lot of people passing you -- which is going to increase your chances of getting handouts. Next, because it is a weekend, you are going to have more suburbanites who are not accustomed to seeing homeless people and will be more sympathetic to their plight. Third, you have a relationship dynamic (i.e. guy with his girlfriend not wanting to look cheap) as opposed to a business district where people are in a hurry to get to or leave work and will generally ignore the panhandlers. I have observed that the same panhandlers who work the business district during the week with will move to Michigan Ave. to hit up the tourists on the weekends.

A unique angle also helps. The greatest beggar I ever saw was a woman with two small children. She would set up a little plastic table with chairs on the street corner for the kids. They would color or reads books and she would just stand there saying nothing. People were actually lined up 10 deep to give her money. I bet she made over 100k a year. There is also a group young heroin addicts who works Michigan Ave. They usually take turns and have a sign saying that they lost their wallet, that they are stranded and they are trying to get home to Seattle. Their star is a little white girl who curls up into a ball, holds a little kitten and crys her eyes out. I hate these kids and I would like to throw them into traffic.

Another observation, I observe that black people give money to panhandlers in a much higher proportion than white people. I have a soft spot for blind people. They are generally the only panhandlers I give change to/

A.P. Keaton 12-01-2007 02:08 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Also, the best location will change based on the time of day. The best bums move around the city all day long. At 5 pm, you want to be near the train station where everyone is heading to. At lunch, you want to be in an area where there are a lot of restaurants. At night, you want to catch that bus of tourists from Iowa who are lining up to see "Wicked." Oh, and you gotta know what sports teams are in town. Did the Cubs just beat the Giants? Hurry up and get to Wrigley Field. The bums who stake a claim at one corner and stay there are missing out on a lot of profit.

Rootabager 12-01-2007 02:32 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
Bar is a great place. I work at a bar and a ton of bums walk by and ask for money. A lot more drunks than you think will give them a dollar. Bar is also great for getting cigs because you cant smoke inside in Lexington, KY so whenever there is 10 ppl smoking I would say 95% of the time they get a cig.

Iconoclastic 12-01-2007 06:55 PM

Re: PDT 1/2 : Best place to panhandle
 
This thread really makes me want to go out there and extort some panhandlers. It sounds like they make so much money and would make great targets for gangs that want to make some extra cash. It's not like they can call for help from the police.


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