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posted on February 28th, 2017

New Orleans resident and Mardi Gras aficionado Erin W. didn’t choose the Turo life, it chose her.

The price is so right

Rewind to last February when she was out in Los Angeles visiting her family, whom she convinced to come along to a taping of The Price Is Right, because, why not? Little did she know that her name would be called, and she’d make her way to the coveted stage to rub elbows with host Drew Carey. She played a game called “Line ‘em up” where she had to line up the prices of three products — a year’s worth of car washes, a car stereo system, and jumper cables — to create the price of a brand new Fiat 500. She nailed it, and she heard those magic words that every game show contestant longs to hear — “Go get your BRAND NEW CAR!”

Except when it’s not

And the rest is history. Well, almost. “One thing they don’t tell you when you win a car is that you have to pay taxes on it,” she notes. As a car-owning artist and musician in New Orleans, she neither really needed the car, nor did she have the extra scratch to pay the taxes on it. So after transporting the car from LA to NOLA, she did some recon to look into selling it. But, true to form, the brand new car with all of 50 miles on it, initially valued at $25,000, had already depreciated to $10,000 according to some used car dealerships she visited. “It was highway robbery!” she lamented.

Having been a seasoned sharing economy enthusiast with Airbnb and other services, Erin googled around and discovered Turo. She listed the Fiat in October, and just four months in, she’s already netted between $500 and $600 each month, enough to pay off the taxes and help her with her monthly expenses. “It’s a great side hustle,” she explains, “because tourism is such a huge industry for this city.” And interestingly, “a good chunk of my repeat business comes from locals who just need a car for a few days. There are 10 universities in New Orleans, so college kids are always looking to get out and explore on the weekends.”

The Big Easy: Ready for lift-off

“New Orleans has many, many tourists coming into the city and staying at Airbnbs, and those individuals need cars. Turo could have a big impact on this market,” she muses. “When the only other option is Enterprise, there’s a lot of opportunity to really stand out.”

Especially when your car radiates novelty value. “Everyone loves The Price is Right story. Just like how people love Airbnb for “concept” rentals, they love my Fiat as a “concept” car.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to drive a game show car instead of a boring rental car? She even got some good press on the local NOLA blog to flaunt her local celebrity cachet.

Mardi Gras tips from the inside

Erin has lived and performed in NOLA for the last 10 years, and is a well-versed Mardi Gras vet. Granted, the city has been masquerading, parading, and partying for the last month, but today is “a sacred day in the city”. Here are her pointers from someone who knows:

DON’T DRIVE.

It’s just not worth it. The parade routes shut down streets all around town, so your best bet is to walk or bike. Not only will you spare the grief of gridlock, but you’ll be much safer to enjoy the festivities.

CHECK OUT THE PARADES.

The Zulu parade is the big one du jour, but her favorite is St. Anne’s Parade. “It’s a beautiful morning parade around the Marigny neighborhood. Everyone’s in costume, and it’s quite spiritual.”

GET TO COSTUMING.

It’s just what you do. Proper Mardi Gras costumes make the day all the more special, and they add to the magic already enchanting the thick Southern air.

Next time you’re in New Orleans, take Erin’s Fiat 500 for a spin around the Bywater. If you’re celebrating today in the Big Easy, happy Mardi Gras!

Megan is the copywriter and content tsarina at Turo. She lives to wander near and far, never met a beach (or dog) she didn’t like, and loves to talk postmodern lit and theory to anyone who’ll listen.