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Vendor at outdoor craft show


#1

Hello. I’m just starting out ~ was accepted as a vendor at an
upcoming outdoor craft show and have a few questions:

  1. security: should I really invest in locking cases unless an item
    is priced over $60? Or just keep a close eye on my merchandise?

  2. pricing: I’m thinking of just charging a flat rate and later
    figuring “out” the taxes for reporting purposes. Is this a mistake?
    Also do people prefer to pay $9.99 or $10?

  3. credit cards: the archives strongly recommend I accept them,
    however I am SO small and only plan to do maybe 4 shows MAX. per year

  • and am already way in debt over supplies. Anyone know of a place I
    can RENT a manual credit card swipper for a day?!

I think that’s it for the time being. Love the archives and all the
great info. Thanks.

Shannon


#2
 1. security: should I really invest in locking cases unless an
item is priced over $60? Or just keep a close eye on my
merchandise? 

Locking up your work is like flossing your teeth. You don’t have to
floss (lock up) all your teeth (jewelry) just the ones you want to
keep.

    2. pricing: I'm thinking of just charging a flat rate and
later figuring "out" the taxes for reporting purposes. Is this a
mistake? Also do people prefer to pay $9.99 or $10? 

I don’t have an opinion to the first question but it seems tome that
if you charge $9.99 You’ll have to lug around a lot of change. If
you keep the amount in whole dollars you only have to have paper
change. It would be easier and faster, something customers
generally appreciate.

   3. credit cards: the archives strongly recommend I accept the>
however I am SO small and only plan to do maybe 4 shows MAX. per
year - and am already way in debt over supplies. Anyone know of a
place I can RENT a manual credit card swipper for a day?! 

If you set up a merchant account that will accept manual credit card
verification they will usually give you an imprinter. If they don’t
I would question the service they are providing. You shouldn’t and
can’t rent one since your merchant number is attached to the
imprinter so that it makes a record of the sellers id as well as the
card number.

Hope that helps. Good luck
Larry


#3
        Hello. I'm just starting out ~ was accepted as a vendor at
an upcoming outdoor craft show and have a few questions: 

Hello Orchidians, I’m one of those lurkers who has benefitted
tremendously from all your advice and knowledge. THANK YOU!!!

Shannon, I have been doing outdoor shows for a year now. I work with
my husband (bless his heart for sacrificing weekends!) so there is
always someone in the booth. I have found, though, that booth
neighbors are friendly and more than happy to keep an eye on things
for the quick trip to the bathroom, etc. I haven’t worried about
security. I spread my wares on open tables. My more economical pieces
at the front of the tent, most expensive against the back of the
tent. I haven’t had any losses to date.

For pricing, I tried marking things “half price”, 25% and “worth
every penny” as a way of communicating different levels of quality in
the jewelry and the stones I was selling. Customers got a laugh out
of the “worth every penny” but they also understood that a knotted
necklace of top grade lapis was probably worth more than sodalite
strung on cable. Now I just set prices at the price I wish to get for
an item --including the sales tax (which seems to be somewhat
standard although by no means universal). It’s easier for me and for
the customers – no math. I’ve found that if someone wants an item,
they are going to buy it. I still use my three display tables / three
tier pricing and customers easily understand that the stuff on the
back table with the fancy gift boxes is going to cost more than what
I have at the front of the tent. If they are price conscious, they
stay at the front table. If they know what they want and recognize
the quality I put into my pieces, they dive right in and buy (I
really like these customers! (grin))

I accept credit cards. I have a set show schedule – two per month
– so I know when I’ll need the service and when I don’t. I can tell
my service I will not be accepting charges in Jan & Feb and they
don’t charge me the service fee. One of my collegues uses a service
that charges her more, but only charges when she has to process
credit cards. There are a lot of options out there, so hunt around
for the best package for what you’ll be doing. And, yes, I have made
some sales only because I was able to take credit cards – and lost
sales early on when I didn’t take cards.

I use a ‘high-tech’ method of taking credit cards. I have preprinted
3-part sales invoices. I slip the card under all three parts and rub
with the end of a capped pen. The two carbons get the imprint and the
top copy gets a pale copy. I have the customer sign at the bottom of
the invoice. I give them the middle (yellow) copy. This works for me
and it’s one less thing to pack in the show box. (My card processor
provides me with software for submitting these charges
electronically. I keep the original signed invoice stapled to the
software report for that submission. I’m covered double this way –
from the card processor, that I actually submitted the charge, and
from the customer, that they actually made the purchase.)

Hope this helps. Best of luck with your shows. I have a lot of fun
meeting the people at these Market Days events – especially when
they seek me out the next month. …Gives me goosebumps!

Thank you all,
Beth Schmitz (in blazingly hot and humid Austin, TX)
E K Schmitz
512-339-0216
beth@wolfmtnjewelry.com
Wolf Mountain Jewelry
www.wolfmtnjewelry.com
Check it out!


#4

Good Morning, Shannon I’ve done 20+ craft shows a year for the past 7
years, most of them outdoors. I don’t use locking cases, even for
higher priced items (although I don’t use “real” gold, might feel
differently if I did). I’ve lost maybe 8 items in 7 years. Prefer to
have everything accessible to the customer; people like to touch,
look closely at, try on. My booth is set up so I can see
everything, and I rarely sit down.

I price everything evenly ($10, 25, 89, etc). Doubt that it has
hurt my sales, and it’s saved me a lot of “brain fog”. Don’t know
about renting a credit card set-up, you’d have to have an merchank
bankcard account with your bank or some financial inst. If you know
another craftsperson who is set up for credit cards, they might run
the occasional charge through for you. I’ve done that for colleagues
in the past.

Lynn/RavenWind Jewelry


#5

Hi Shannon, I’m sitting here waiting for a print job to finish so I
can head off to a show this weekend… so I have a couple minutes to
respond! :slight_smile:

Unless you are planning to leave your booth unattended, locking
cases are probably not necessary unless you have really high-end
work. Taking a cue from another vendor at a recent show, I don’t even
plan to install the doors on my (Dynamic Display) cases this weekend.

You’ll probably need to set up a vendor account with a credit card
company if you want to accept credit cards. That also means you will
need a business checking account, which means you will need a resale
license (permit to collect sales tax). You’ll need the resale license
if you’re doing shows, regardless of whether you have a business
checking account or accept credit cards. You need a separate license
for each state in which you will be doing shows.

I find it important to accept credit cards, but if your merchandise
is not too expensive, you may be able to do nearly as much business
cash-and-carry.

I have yet to figure out the pricing strategies. I guess if being
priced at $195 vs. $200 makes a difference, they really aren’t that
interested anyway. I usually round my prices to the nearest $5… but
my merchandise starts at around $65.

I’m still struggling with the question of whether I should just
churn out mind numbing masses of low priced work or continue to knock
myself out doing unique work that many people can’t afford in this
economy. For me, one or two sales can make a big difference in how a
show goes, while the guy next to me with bowls of tow rings is
selling 50 items an hour and knows he’s going to go home with cash in
his pocket.

I love doing shows, but very little about it is black-and-white.

My print job is done, so I’m headed off to Ft. Lauderdale to try and
lighten a few wallets and purses… and of course, educate the good
people there about the differences between fine handcrafted art
jewelry and manufactured baubles. :slight_smile:

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#6

<> I use The Arts and Crafts Business Group, I found
them in The Crafts Report last year – an article. They sell
refurbished machines and my monthly service fee is only $5.00. I
love being able to say I take credit cards – I put it on my
brochure. I feel like it makes people take my business more
seriously.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Certified PMC Instructor
@E_Luther


#7

Shannon, Whether or not you have locking cases depends on the style
of your cases. If they are not easily accessed by customers then
you will probably be okay without locks. Also consider how you will
feel if something is stolen. As for accepting charge cards, it does
seem to be the way. I did a show this weekend and had no cash
sales, a few checks, mainly charges. My prices are higher, average
is $250. You can’t rent or borrow a charge machine because they are
specific to your vendor account. You have to apply to be a credit
card merchant. They check your credit to be sure you are
legitimate. As for tax, I recommend figuring the tax as you make
each sale so you don’t short change yourself. As you grow your
business you may do shows in areas where the tax is different and
this will help you get in the habit of figuring the tax.

Best of luck at your show. Remember that presentation is crucial so
make sure your work looks as good as possible. - Deb


#8

I haven’t seen this mentioned yet, but you can get used credit card
processing equipment on Ebay. (where else??) They usually have the
knuckle busters, the keypads to punch in your sales, and I believe I
have seen the units that have the cell phone connection. good luck-

Anne


#9
    3. credit cards: the archives strongly recommend I accept
them, however I am SO small and only plan to do maybe 4 shows MAX.
per year - and am already way in debt over supplies. Anyone know of
a place I can RENT a manual credit card swipper for a day?! 

Check with your bank where you have your business account for a
manual swiper. Mine cost $25 deposit, which I get back if I ever turn
it in.


#10
 For me, one or two sales can make a big difference in how a show
goes, while the guy next to me with bowls of tow rings is selling
50 items an hour and knows he's going to go home with cash in his
pocket. 

Boy is Dave dead on with this statement. You set there and think “I
should’va gone into XX” The trouble is that the next show at the
same location is “I should’va gone into YY” Each show has a
different buying crowd. Especially in todays market. A balanced
inventory is always your best bet.

On pricing, an even dollar, or even ten dollar price is easy on you
for figuring out any discount you might want to give. Out here on
the west coast, we have a lot of ethnic groups that believe that
negotiating for the final price is a given. It used to drive me
nuts. I finally decided that I needed to price my inventory to
allow for this, make it part of the game. If a customer comes up
and wants to badger you on price, you have some room to accommodate
them. If a really nice person comes up and decides to purchase at
the offered price, you can throw in a little “benny” at the close
and have a customer for life. For those real pains that end up
buying anyway. you can have a little extra for your efforts.

The credit card issue is a real problem. Depending on your
provider, it can be a very expensive problem. This is an area that
you need to do a lot of research. Check into discount rates, added
fees (that fact that you can’t swipe a card can cost you as much as
a $1.00 per transaction), and length of the contract, and monthly
minimums. The lowest discount rates may not be the best choice. I
will tell you though that you will loose more high end sales if you
don’t take plastic. An added benefit of some plans is that you can
also get check protection for about the same discount rate, IE for
about 1.5% TO 2.5%, you get a guarantee that the check you took will
be good, if you follow all the rules. A cell phone is a must to get
the authorization for these sales. If you have electricity at your
booth, a cellular operated credit card machine is nice. I loved the
sound of the printer printing the receipt. That was money deposited
in my account and an indication that you were not going to have a
problem with that payment.

On the locked cases, inattention is your worst enemy. You need to
be aware of everything going on in your booth. If you have
inventory that you can’t afford to loose, never put more than one
piece into a customers hands at any time. This is a hard rule to
follow, but if you don’t, it will eventually cost you. When I first
opened my store, I was hit for a couple hundred in merchandise by a
couple who came in and she kept my attention while he filled his
pockets. During the five years it was open, I only had two other
shop lifts., and both were the result of my dropping the ball. Both
were costly. An outdoor setting creates another security problem,
but the issues are the same. Keep a watchful eye. Don’t get so
involved with one customer that the other is filling their pockets
without you seeing it.

All these warnings aside, the shows are a lot of fun, and if you
have the right product for that show, they can also be profitable.

Don


#11
    Hello. I'm just starting out ~ was accepted as a vendor at an
upcoming outdoor craft show and have a few questions: 

There are others here with much more experience than me and my wife
but here are my thoughts FWIW;

    1. security: should I really invest in locking cases unless an
item is priced over $60? Or just keep a close eye on my
merchandise? 

Many jewelry and related items are more easily sold if they can be
easily handled. It also depends much on the type show and other
factors. Many outdoor shows are free to the public. That usually
means 3 things are more common than indoor or shows with an entrance
fee 1. drinking 2. kids 3. lookers . You will need to be diligent
about ‘stumbling drunks’ that can knock stuff off/over. Sticky
fingered kids. And be on the lookout for big open bags/purses where
items can be raked off a table into. Not common but I bet others
have seen this. I’ve even seen an old geezer pretend to cough so a
ring could be dropped into a popcorn bag he had near his mouth!

    2. pricing: I'm thinking of just charging a flat rate and
later figuring "out" the taxes for reporting purposes. Is this a
mistake? Also do people prefer to pay $9.99 or $10? 

In my state, only vending machines are allowed to ‘include taxes’.
That said, I’ve never known anyone to get busted for doing it. Be
careful. Lots of research indicates that those kind of prices DO
matter thoug I admit we rarely use sub-$1 prices. We will
occasionally modify our prices such that we have items under the
’gift threshholds’. under $20, under$25, under$50, etc. Seems silly
to have a lot of unsold $26 items to haul around for years when they
might sell at $24,

    3. credit cards: the archives strongly recommend I accept
them, however I am SO small and only plan to do maybe 4 shows MAX.
per year - and am already way in debt over supplies. Anyone know of
a place I can RENT a manual credit card swipper for a day?! 

I’m told research indicates an average increase of 17% in sales if
credit cards are accepted. If this is true it MAY be worth doing
DEPENDING on how much the merchant account and equipment cost. If
the gear is $300 and the account costs 6% doesn’t seem worth it.
Just work the numbers. If you maintain a website there MAY be a way
that’s easier. Others here will be more help I’m sure.

    I think that's it for the time being. Love the archives and
all the great info. Thanks. 
Shannon

Carl
1 Lucky Texan


#12

Not to be an alarmist but over the last few weeks a couple of old
scams resulted in the theft of all merchandise and receipts from two
jewelers in the Chicagoland area. I wanted to remind people about
them.

  1. Gold Coast (heard this 2nd hand from 2 sources so details are
    sketchy) Two well dressed men walk up to artist who has just packed
    all her jewelry away and is dismantling booth. Engage her in
    conversation about “a piece they saw earlier” and while distracted
    one makes off with her bag of stuff.

  2. Bucktown (heard this firsthand & have heard the same story
    directly from another victim) A single female artist (usually the
    target) packs up and takes off from a show. After a couple of miles
    when she is far away from the assistance of her fellow artists she
    realizes she is getting a flat (Nail was probably put in her tire)
    and pulls over. After a few minutes a couple of nicely dressed young
    men offer to help change her tire and she gratefully accepts their
    help. While one asks her to hold something or a similar ploy the 2nd
    helps himself to her $ and her jewelry. They finish changing the tire
    and off they go. She doesn’t realize what happened until she gets
    back in the car.

I got a flat as I was loading out at Oakbrook Fine Craft a few weeks
ago and was incredibly paranoid driving home. Funny how the tire
looked fine until I moved the van and then loaded it for a while.
Whether it was an accident or not I mostly hear these stories from
women alone, and it doesn’t seem like they need to have really high
end stuff any more to make them a target.

Karen in Chicagoland


#13
I haven't seen this mentioned yet, but you can get used credit
card processing equipment on Ebay. (where else??) They usually have
the knuckle busters, the keypads to punch in your sales, and I
believe I have seen the units that have the cell phone connection.
good luck- 

If you do this, you must first call your service provider and ask.
There are used processing machines at American Science and Surplus
(www.sciplus.com) for only $4.50 but no service that I called still
uses them (they are discover machines, perhaps they would work with
Discover.)

Luckily, some service providers do sell refurbished machines for
about 1/2 of what the new ones cost. The idea of getting the
knuckle buster on ebay sounds good though, those are interchangable.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinios, USA
Certified PMC Instructor
@E_Luther


#14

Hi Shannon, Is there a used office fixture place in your town/city? I
picked up one of the old “knuckle buster” credit card machines for
$10. If you are not using and electronic one, that should work fine.

As for sales tax, in doing art fairs I find sometimes we fight the
image of a flea market. Customers sometimes don’t treat us with the
same respect they would a gallery or store. Customers will say, “How
much is it if I pay cash?” or “Why are you charging sales tax, the
last person didn’t?” I think we need to be as professional and
consistent as possible. The sales tax changes from location to
location and since we are just collecting it for the government,
it’s easier to charge what that particular city charges. People are
used to paying sales tax.

My jewelry is displayed both in and out of cases, sometimes with the
more expensive displaying better on the outside. I work in sterling
and stones. Over the years I have lost a few pieces, but never the
big ones. Most people are honest, you just have to keep an eye out.
Interestingly enough, if a piece gets taken, it’s usually not an
expensive one and it’s been while I’m in the booth, never while a
neighbor is watching it and the booth is unattended.

Jenny Levernier
jmml designs
Minneapolis MN


#15
 Out here on the west coast, we have a lot of ethnic groups that
believe that negotiating for the final price is a given. 

Not only on the west coast. I will be doing a show on the east coast
of Florida in November, in a city known for its affluent but
aggressively negotiating culture. It’s a two word city, whose
initials are B.R. Artists who are “in the know” mark up prices 30%
in advance of shows in that city, so they have room to negotiate and
play the game with this particular cultural/religious community.
Those who are not in the know walk away bruised and wounded,
feeling as though they’ve been beaten up all weekend. If you don’t
"play", the potential customers walk away and will not buy.

My kind of upbringing makes me want to tell these kind of customers
to bend over and feel my size twelve discount, but of course, I
don’t. Here’s the kind of hit I took from a pair of female companions
last weekend in Ft. Lauderdale: The necklace was originally priced at
$295. I let them talk me down to $225. Then they refused to buy
unless I also ate the 7% sales tax. In order to remain honest, it
seems I need to reduce my price to $195 to pay the state of Florida
its legally due revenue.

Puts me in a bit of a bind to not report the revenue and risk my
ability to do shows in that state in the future or eat another
significant percentage of my meager profit margin. What does one do
in this situation? Not report the sales income to the state, or eat
the further erosion? Quite an ethical quandary? Should I be more
pragmatic?

Any discussion on this topic?

Me

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#16

Hi Folks, Just a follow up on this thread. When I last wrote, I was
headed out the door to a show in Ft. Lauderdale. I just got back
today. The show was great! That’s the first time I can say that this
year. Of the dozen-or-so sales I made, one transaction ($25 earrings)
was for cash, one was a check, and the rest were credit cards. I can
clearly say that I would not have made some of those sales if taking
credit cards was not a possibility.

Another reason to accept credit cards is that it gives the customer
a sense of security purchasing from an artist or jeweler unknown to
them. If they are not satisfied for some reason, or the merchandise
is not as represented, they know they can always go back to their
credit card company and have them “go to bat” for them with the
vendor.

I find this especially to be the case with Web site sales. I know…
a bit of a tangent on the subject… but Web customers definitely
prefer to use “plastic” for this very reason.

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#17

Dave, I understand your quandary. This suggestion has helped me.

I include the sales tax in my asking price to begin with. Then if I
have a customer who tries like yours did at the end to not charge
them sales tax, you can “give in” because you have covered yourself
because it’s already added in to the original price. And for the
customers who aren’t as “pushy”, when you tell them the total and say
that it includes tax, they think you’re giving them a great deal.

Is there any other thoughts out there?

Cherie Wilbur


#18

Hi! I think I’m getting in on the end of this but I agree that
credit cards are a definite way to go.

Does anyone know who or what company would be the best to contact?
I’m going to be doing a huge show (1,500,000 people) beginning 9/13
for 3 weeks and feel I definitely need to accept credit cards.

Thanks again everyone. I hope I will be able to contribute along
the way with as much help as I have received from this wonderful
group of people.

Cherie Wilbur


#19
    My kind of upbringing makes me want to tell these kind of
customers to bend over and feel my size twelve discount, but of
course, I don't. 

My kind of upbringing makes me want to tell you to stuff that size
12 up your portable plumbing. No one tries to bargain unless that
is the given. If several people are willing to bargain, the
customer assumes everyone is willing to bargain. If you get a
discount from one person, and the next won’t, one naturally assumes
that person is trying to rip you off. This particular
cultural/ethnic group that you so unsubtly refer to does not go into
department stores and restaurants trying to bargain. They may have
the common sense to prefer to purchase things when they go on sale
(especially since stores have sales every other week), but they
don’t haggle with the sales lady over sales tax or refuse to pay for
the appetizers I assure you. However, if you want to stereotype,
perhaps you’ll notice that this ethnic group buys more art per
capita than any other group.

If you don’t want to set up the bazaar atmosphere, then everyone
must agree to the no bargaining rule. Otherwise, play the game, and
respect the customer who buys from you, or you are no better than a
prostitute. IMHO Debra Swan


#20

Dave Sebaste, I handle these situations one of two ways. If there is
only one buyer involved and there is only one item I reach my bottom
price and refuse to budge. I ask the buyer if they would like to add
another item that I could also discount to make them a better
purchase. The second way I approach this is when there are two buyers
together. I encourage them to purchase together and I can make a
better deal. I also explain to them that different items have
different break points. Because I manufacture all my items some of
them may have higher break points than others. Explaining to them
that in the case of object “X” I can only discount the price by 15%,
but if they buy object “Y” with object “X” I can discount “Y” 25%.
Customers have to be told that I do not just buy and sell
merchandise. I manufacture each piece. This works well at shows, but
I would not attempt this kind of barter in a store front. I will be
in Tucson today and open tomorrow for the September show. We will
use this system. We always collect sales tax at retail shows. Sales
tax is added after the sale. Credit card fees we end up eating.
Sales Tax, Credit Card transaction fees, and show overhead all must
be added into the selling price of your items. I explain all this to
the customer right up front. When a deal cannot be reached I tell the
customer that is it. If they continue to haggle I remove the item
from the case and move on to the next customer after telling them
"Thank You for your time".

Gerry Galarneau
@Gerry
www.galarneausgems.com