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Things Needed To Start A Concession Business

Sam Staffen

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There many items necessary to book concessions at fairs and festivals. Many of these things go without saying although I will cover them anyway. Some things a person or organization doesn't realize they need when initializing such a project. Other things you only need part of the time.

First comes what will you put in your space that you occupy at the event. You can set up tables or benches but when it rains you will be covering everything up and closed I might add. Normally you need a stand. Most of the time a tent type of stand is used. There are several types of these tents. You can buy a custom made tops for your frame you have built or with a frame, there are frames that are specifically designed to attach tarps too using elastic straps, there are pop ups and car ports that come with a top. Car ports are being used most often recently.

The professionally made tents have to be ordered, made and delivered normally. The process takes about a week total. They are expensive by comparison to the pop up, frame and tarps, or car port types that you can usually purchase at your local department store. A professional made tent will cost around $2500 and up to where a the other can be purchased for around $200 total. They are not that hard to set up and normally take between 20 minutes and an hour.

Trailer stands and stands that operate from a vehicle are an option as well. With the trailer stands you can get either a lineup type that has one side of operation or a trailer that has up to four sides of operation and is generally used in the center areas of an event. A center area of an event is an area that the people walk on all side of the stand as to where the lineup is when they walk on one side only. A stand operating out of a truck or van or things of this nature can also be made into lineups or centers.

Does your stand have good proper lighting that will also pass code? You have to have lights because the majority of festivals draw larger crowds at night. I would not recommend colored lights because they are not bright enough. You want your stand to be the brightest in your area. It will stand out. Good, inexpensive, and efficient lights can be purchased at your local hardware, lumber yard, department store, and a few other locations. Look for the 4" shop lights that require two 4’ florescent bulbs and come with a cord. If you look hard enough you will find them for $10 a fixture and the bulbs for a couple of bucks. You will need at least on fixture for every 4'X8’ of stand space. Make sure that your electric cord will pass inspection also by asking the committee member you call to book the event. Many times your normal electric cord will not pass.

Now that you have picked your stand or general space layout you will need a product. The best product is something that you know where to purchase the items at the lowest prices available, known as wholesale prices. You want to have a fairly large selection when the item is small in nature. When you have larger items you can get away with just a few designs because you are generally making more net per sale. It is also good to pick a product that you feel comfortable selling, pitching, showing, or demonstrating.

Now you have your product and you are ready to display it in your stand. When displaying a large variety of items it is very important that you color co-ordinate. You don't want a bunch of the same color, and yet different items, displayed next to each other. It makes it hard for the passerby to notice each unique item. Make sure you put the shorter items in front and the taller items in back. This makes it easier to notice all items as well. Shelving or chains or something of the sort are a must when all your items are the same height. Do not worry about arranging items by prices all though it is nice to do. You don't want people walking by to only notice the tags out of their price range so be careful as to how large price signs are. I don't use price tags if that gives you an idea.

O. K. you are ready for signs now. Do not worry about arranging items by prices all though it is nice to do. You don't want people walking by to only notice the tags displaying prices out of their range. So be careful as to how large price signs are. I don't use price tags or signs if that gives you an idea. I do use signs as a means of drawing attention. Signs are best when used at eye level(vertical center of base at 5'6" or so). When using eye level signs display them either in front of you stand or against back wall or display. When placing a sign in front of your stand you should leave space between the sign and you stand for people to browse by. Put your best items or specials on the sign(s). It is not a good idea to include a price on your sign unless it is a really excellent price. By specials I mean Ladies Day, Closeouts, Going Out Of Business, and when I said best items I meant licensed or well liked items exclusively known in that area. Like is Sturgis Missouri you may want a sign displaying: Persons With Motorcycle Permit Get ?% Off.
I believe you are ready for business now, right. I mean you have everything you need to make money. You have your stand, lights, electric cord, product display, and signs. Things are going good! Some events require that you have insurance. That's right insurance. They will tell you what coverage you have to have. Some events actually have a policy you can purchase from them or have a company's phone number for you to call. Event Insurance can be purchased for a year or for an individual event. There is also several policies. The main policy is million dollar liability. Since not every committee requires insurance it is best to only buy it the weeks you need it for financial reasons. To give you an idea of price, it cost me $856 for a whole year for one stand with million dollar liability coverage.

Now it is time to book your concession. You want to have an event listing or two to look up events you will be calling to place your stand in. My web site is a good place to look up events and you can click on the link at the bottom of this story to see. There are many other guides as well. The best way for you would be to look for event guides that specifically cover your geographical area. You should also decide if you want to do art and craft events as well. Sometimes your product will tell you where you should be. Take for instance a Pow Wow won't even book you unless you feature native American products. Now make a reference guide for each week you want to vend. It is best to start your list chronologically.

Now lets call some committees. This is a task that takes time to get down. Not every committee person has the same ideas or emotional makeup. You should always begin introducing yourself and state your business in short and basic form. Never repeat information on that original introduction because you want your introduction to be short and to the point. Now ask if they have a minute because many committee people are ultra busy especially the week of the event. When you have the chance to talk to them you should always have questions either in your head or on paper that you know you have to ask. I always include- Do you have space?, How many of my main item is already booked?, How much is the space?, When is the rent due?, Where is the space?, Can I get electric? How do I get electric?, Is electric extra?, What are the hours of operation?, and What inspections can I expect?. and if I have help or a camper of my own-Do you have camper space? How much is camper space? Does camper space have electric?, and How far from my location is it?.

Now you are booked and should keep on booking until you have filled your entire route. Sometimes you will only be able to fill your route so far down the calender by virtue of finances. It is best if you can pay all deposits for the entire season. Once you have done the event for the first time you realize if you want to come back or not. If you choose to come back you should leave a deposit for that event before you leave town, always. You don't want someone else booking your space, because you can't afford to pay the deposit, the following year when the event agent ask for it. Always leave your deposit that year because you can always get by without that money.

You may have noticed I didn't explain too much at this point in regards to when you are at the even taking money. There is a reason for that. I think that everyone has their own personality and their personality is what is going to bring in the money. Their personality is either going to or not going to get along with the committee. How well you can relate with the committee greatly effects your being invited back. remember a committee can tell you to fly a kite if they choose. One good tip is to keep your space clean and presentable during the event. After you have torn down pick up all debris in and around your area. Your on your own now and good luck once your booked.

I created the web site - The web site was first published for use on the internet on February 4, 2008. Already boasts arguably the best free listing of bona fide fairs and festivals on the internet. has 48 pages of fairs and festivals which you can find all the pages on the home page in a drop down menu. There is a merchandise page with several vendors, a carnivals page with nearly 80 links to different carnivals web sites, a contact page, an employment page, and the home page to go with the 48 pages of fairs and festivals listings. You will find this site truly informative and a very helpful tool for anyone who does anything in the outdoor amusements. Come check out now!


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