MAKE MONEY SELLING AT 
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

With the economy in a bad shape, and unemployment rates high, many people are electing to sell goods at fairs and festivals in order to pay bills and support the family.  If you have a great product, you can make some good money.  On the other hand, if your product is not suited right for the fair, you may be lucky to break even.  However beginners can learn a lot even if you just break even.   Look at is as a learning experience and realize that the longer you are in the business, the more money you will make.

   Back in 2007, it was common to make $1000 a weekend selling at fairs and festivals.  But then the economy went bad and unemployment became an issue and people stopped spending and started hoarding their cash.  Since then, it has been hard to make much of a profit and the game was to stay in business until the economy improved.  Today it looks like people are spending again, but if we see $5 a gallon gas, there will not be any money left for entertainment and fairs.  The fair season is just beginning and we are hopeful it will be a good year.

  The equipment you need to exhibit at most fairs include a 10x10 canopy, a couple of fold up tables and some folding chairs.  All these items are available for purchase at Costco or Costco online.  You can make some tablecloths from material at Wall-mart, and all you need is a product to sell.

   Probably the most common product sold is handmade jewelry, or jewelry purchased at wholesale markets.  Usually you get better rental rates if you can claim hand made crafts.  The number of items you can sell are beyond your imagination.  As a beginner I suggest being flexible and open to trying something different, even changing your display can make a difference.  

   As a beginner, I suggest you attend a couple fairs and festivals and see what others are selling and see who is making moneyTalk to vendors and let them know you are thinking of becoming a vendor.  You will be surprised how they open up to you.  It is like joining a fraternity, you are now one of the guys.  Donít talk to the pretty sales girl; look for the owner.  

   Another thing to consider is matching your product with the fair.  If you are selling jewelry, you do not want to be at a kids carnival.  Instead you might want to sell balls, or toys that light up at night.  If you are selling at swap meets, I suspect kids toys and staples may be good items to sell.  Also consider the income levels of the crowd.  Is it a Latin community that spends money on their children, or is it a drinking crowd that is spending money on them selves.  Usually the higher income the crowd, the better the sales.  Personally I like beach communities in Southern California.  In a poor community, the first of the month is better than the last weekend of the month because welfare checks are delivered around the first of the month.

 Then there are unique crowds like gay festivals where you frequently have two wage earners and no children to support.  We have made money at these festivals, but they are expensive and the economy has also hurt them.  If you plan on selling at a gay festival, have an open mind and make sure you have ample selling hours to justify your efforts.  We did one gay festival where the crowd was there from noon till 3 PM and we did not have enough time to earn the rent.

   When selecting a product line, start small and be prepared to add product line as you learn the business.  I have a garage full of dead inventory.  Also select a product line where you can make at least a 300% markup on the product.  It takes that much to justify your effort.  Fore example, you can buy sunglasses wholesale for $1.25 and sell them for $5 to $10 a pair.  But you need a hot sunny day to sell them.  Rainy areas sunglasses do not sell well.  I understand there are books available at Amazon.com, 500 Tips for Marketing Your Crafts.  

  Some vendors make products to sell, such as rubber band guns, marshmallow shooters, funny signs, dried flower arrangements, wind mill birds, Jewelry, computer enhanced photos, or even fortune telling.  What I hate to see is a fortuneteller complaining about how poorly they are doing, didnít they know before the fair started?

    Some vendors just work weekend events and maintain a regular job or business.  Others want longer events where they setup for a couple weeks and can close it up at night and go home without putting everything in a truck.  The longer events are usually county fairs and you will have more slow times during the week, and you will have time to make new product, or read a book.  Most county fairs are designed to be sequential, following one after another and a vendor can travel from county fair to county fair about 9 months of the year.  Living out of a motel or RV.  But then you may be limited on space to make product if that is your game.

   Being a vendor is usually a cash business and you have a lot of flexibility tax wise.  Also, you will need an account to accept credit cards, and I suggest you look in Craftmasters to find one because your local bank will be expensive and is not prepared to meet your needs.  Depending upon which State you operate in, you will usually need a Sellers Permit which authorizes you to collect sales tax and report it to the State.  Different cities have different requirements for city licenses and the fair promoter can tell you what you need for city licenses.  Usually you can buy a license for a few days at a reasonable rate.  Then there are cities like Long Beach California that charges vendors $48 a day for a license.  I try to avoid Long Beach.  Most cities do not require a license or it is included in your fair rent.

   Some vendors just work weekend events and maintain a regular job or business.  Others want longer events where they setup for a couple weeks and can close it up at night and go home without putting everything in a truck.  The longer events are usually county fairs and you will have more slow times during the week, and you will have time to make new product, or read a book.  Most county fairs are designed to be sequential, following one after another and a vendor can travel from county fair to county fair about 9 months of the year.  Living out of a motel or RV.  But then you may be limited on space to make product if that is your game.

   Being a vendor is usually a cash business and you have a lot of flexibility tax wise.  Also, you will need an account to accept credit cards, and I suggest you look in Craftmasters to find one because your local bank will be expensive and is not prepared to meet your needs.  Depending upon which State you operate in, you will usually need a Sellers Permit which authorizes you to collect sales tax and report it to the State.  Different cities have different requirements for city licenses and the fair promoter can tell you what you need for city licenses.  Usually you can buy a license for a few days at a reasonable rate.  Then there are cities like Long Beach California that charges vendors $48 a day for a license.  I try to avoid Long Beach.  Most cities do not require a license or it is included in your fair rent.

   Rent for a 10 x 10 ft space can vary from $15 a day to $500 or more a day.  Usually the more you spend, the more sales you are going to have.  They can only charge that much when they have a good reputation that keeps bringing back vendors.  One question to ask a vendor is how many times they have worked this fair.  There will be a lot of newbees, but if you cannot find an old timer, beware the fair is not attracting repeat vendors.   Also first time fairs are usually a disaster.  It takes a lot of experience to fun a good fair and get the advertising out there.  Reputation is everything, so ask other vendors what is their favorite fair they like to work. 

   When selecting a fair, it is usually more profitable if you are on a corner where you have two selling sides off your booth.  This is compared to booths that are side by side and you can only sell off the front of your booth.  You may pay a little extra for the extra selling side, but I find it usually pays to have the extra selling side.  Assuming you have the product to sell two sides.

   If the fair is open at nighttime, make sure you have plenty of lights available.  Also use the cork screw florescent tubes because when every one turns on their lights at night there is frequently a power outage and the electrician has to run a second power cord, or do some other magic With their system.  This causes a lot of stressful vendors to do funny things.  If you have low draw lights, you might get some preferential treatment.

    Speaking of funny things vendors can do, on setup day, most vendors are stressed out and difficult to get along with during the first hour or two.  Once they are set up and everything is working they are more pleasant.  Understand this and watch your own tress level as a newbee.

   Once you settle down on a product line to sell, consider selling online from a web site.  This will help keep your weekdays busy and bring in extra money.

Google Authorship

 

 Fight Spam! Click Here!