Is there a similarity between shopping and merchandising?

I have read through several of the posts on this thread and am curious if becoming a merchandiser locks you into a commitment like an employee or can you pick and choose what you want to do like mystery shopping? Some of it looks interesting, but if I am required to work "x" number of hours or else will get the boot, I don't know if that would be a good idea for me to pursue. I have done a few merchandising assignments through some MSC's, but they were 1-time gigs. For the listed merchandising companies, do any of them offer assignments like this or are they all ongoing commitments?

Thanks for your replies!

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Oh good. I will apply with a few of the companies recommended in another thread and see where it goes. I was afraid that I was signing up for a permanent commitment as an employee which is not what I am interested in right now.
I think some of the merchandising-only focused companies have a mixed bag. You can sign up for routes or regularly scheduled appearances at certain locations, however, they still tend to have a number of stand-alone events that they need to complete.
As with mystery shopping, merchandising companies sometimes ask who else you work for. Be very careful in answering that question. Some of them think the others represent a conflict of interest for the strangest of reasons. I am an independent contractor. I do whatever I can to avoid answering that question or I name a little-known regional company or tell about one I used to work for. Some merchandising companies do consider you an employee, even if your one assignment for them comes up every six weeks. Others consider everything you do independent. There is one company that has greeting cards that makes high demands on the merchandiser come holidays. I haven't worked for them. Some of them, if they have regular weekly work, for example, may expect you to take more than one store--a little route. It's possible to make a good match of several of these companies.
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