Outside show advice

I have been accepted into what will likely be a very nice outside show at the MacKenzie Child location in Aurora NY. We live nearby. It is their inaugural show. Aurora is a very beautiful small town on one of the finger lakes. This will be my first show of any kind in over 20 years. Needless to say, I suspect that things have changed. Luckily, it is inside a large series of tents on a paved surface. I will not need my own tent and they do not provide electricity, so lighting is not needed. that’s good because I currently don’t have a solution to either of these needs. Tables, chairs, table coverings, displays and signage are all easily obtained. My biggest concern is that I have never taken credit card payments at an outside location. If any of you who have experience with this can pass that along, it would be appreciated. The organizers claim that they will have wireless access available. Having a technology background, I will believe it when I see it. Backup would be using a cell phone. I look forward to any help you can provide. Thanks…Rob

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For a quick setup try squareup.com
This is the easiest way to take cards that I have found. You can get a tap and dip card reader for about 40. I have had mine for years. It compliments an app for your phone that works even if you forget your card reader you could also key in the card manually for a slightly higher fee and direct deposit your funds nightly to your bank.

I don’t recommend getting their debit card as I have had a few issues and no no longer use it

otherwise they have lots add on features and plenty of free services that only charge processing fees but not a monthly fee like PayPal charges

Good luck at your show!


Thanks! I have an old small square card reader that will work with the app. I just have never used it at home as I am typically sending electronic invoices or just waiting for a check. I have a lot of old reliable customers whom I trust with credit. A show is a different story and, like most of us, I want some confidence that I will be paid. I experimented with the Square reader and it works on both my ipad and android phone. What I am curious about is how well does square work in a temporary wireless environment with many people hitting the wireless access point(s) at the same time or using it on a cellphone service. Finally, how does offline work and does it just update once it hits a wireless network. Thanks again…Rob

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You would be sending and receiving only a few hundred, maybe a few thousand characters of text at the most, not video, not still images, or even web page HTML, so if you have a connection, even if it is slow, the data transfers wouldn’t take much time. There might be pauses in between transfers so the entire process might take a minute or so, but the actual data transfers will happen in seconds even on a busy network.

May you have many sales to test it!

There is a way through the website to setup taking payments if offline. Offline Credit Card Processing - Accept Credit Cards Offline
I use my phone to create a hotspot if I’m taking payments on my tablet for the day, I haven’t tried offline payments myself

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As others have said, Square is pretty reliable. However, another option for a backup plan would be to set up a QR code through PayPal, and then print a hard copy to have available for people to scan with their phones, using their own cellular carrier or a guest subnet if the venue offers that.

Thanks for all the advice. I have tested my Square account a couple times and it seems to work OK. I have also figured out how to use it offline. I guess it is time to stop worrying about how to get paid and make something to get paid for.


Hello, I use a Square card reader and because WiFi at events can be unreliable I added a WiFi hot spot to my iPad. This has worked seamlessly, and I have successfully shared the hot spot with other sellers. The additional cost on my AT&T cell phone bill is about $10.

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I am in the UK and have been taking payments using my phone for almost 20 years. In the early days it was a text based system but now I use Zettle which is part of paypal. But there are lots of options now, square being one of them. You just need to shop around for the system that is right for you.

Square is a very easy solution to all the above questions, but I wanted to suggest you also set up a Venmo account if you haven’t yet. Many customers ask to use this now, at least in my area. A fellow vendor actually told me that at her last show the majority of people asked her if she had Venmo. So that’s kind of a big shift! (Though I would say it probably skews to people under 40 or so.)

I also highly recommend you buy the contactless chip reader instead of using the old swiper style. You can compare them all here. Some cards don’t have magnetic strips anymore, plus, if you swipe a card with a chip that turns out to be fraudulent, you’re on the hook because of the Liability Shift that started in 2015. Also, people like to pay with their phones!

If the cell or wifi reception is overloaded, you will be pushed into offline mode on any service, and Square would likely be your primary option. But I would say this is usually only during the peak of traffic, and usually only happens in pockets of time. When you are offline, just ask for a method of contact in case there’s a problem. Yes, someone could be declined and then ghost you, but the odds of that are really slim.

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I use both Square and Venmo (which is now owned by PayPal). I would highly recommend the chip reader to use w Square. setting up Venmo is very easy, and payment of choice for a lot of younger folks, also easier than a CC. Be aware that like PayPal, Venmo has a service charge for business accounts so it’s now very much like Square or PayPal in terms of service charges and taxes (so best to have separate business and personal Venmo, also very easy to switch between them), and when u sign up for business Venmo, they will send u a package w QR code for use in/at ur booth/business.