My wife has started a new business venture selling whole food supplements to bridge the gap between what we eat and what we need. We are thinking about linking the kids horse shows with her business by renting her some vendor space while the kids are showing. Everyone ends up a little happier I think! So, which circuits would you rent vendor space at in the Southeast? Conyers, Aiken, Brownland, Hits Ocala, Lexington or WEF etc. I am sure there is a good trade off between cost of the vendor space and the number of people who come by the booth etc. Any experience or suggestions you all have would be great. Thanks in advance...we always get insightful answers and it is appreciated.
Need to get specifics from each show about their fees and run them past your accountant to see what makes the most sense when compared to your bottom line. And remember location is everything when you depend on foot traffic for sales. Shows charge more for better locations and a few don't welcome new vendors at all.
Need to do more research and get the details before any advice would be meaningful.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I know somebody who runs a coffee shop at WEF. I don't remember the exact figures, but the number of cups of coffee she had to sell every day just to break even was staggering to me. The costs are fixed and high. If there is a week of bad weather with few people wandering around, it is very tough on the vendors. Still, it must be worthwhile or there would be fewer shops.
My personal advice is to calculate your overall costs very carefully. Here are some things to take into account when going to an event, a tradeshow, or whatever:
1) Travel costs to and from the event
2) Hotels and meals
3) Flat fee for the booth space
4) Booth "extras", which could include, depending on the venue
a) Electrical (if you're inside and need it)
b) Internet (if you need
c) Different tent/drape arrangements. Some shows or venues you can bring all
your own stuff and do what you want. At other places, you have to use their
5) Credit card processing method if you don't want to deal with cash only or bother with checks.
I used to go to tradeshows regularly for a side business I started which is completely different from my day job. The only reason I did it is because the events were a very reasonable driving distance from my house. Since I didn't have to pay for hotel and had only minimal travel costs, I really only had to pay for the booth space. I once considered traveling out of state for events, but figured that if I sold the same amount of stuff that I did locally, I'd barely break even due to the high overhead. I made one out of state trip that involved a 10 hour drive each way, which for me wasn't too bad since I drive a hybrid and get great mileage. I saved on hotel by sharing a room with 2 other people. In the end I did make some money, but I decided not to travel that far again because of the amount of time involved with the travel. (3 days of show +2.5 travel days).
I know plenty of vendors who went to that same show who left angry because they didn't break even and actually lost a lot of money.
In the end, I think you need to take a good hard look at your expenses. Also consider what your other options are for advertising and getting your name out.
Questions to ask yourself are:
1) Do you want to sell direct to customers? or wholesale through stores?
2) What are your advertising costs for other things such as magazines or newspapers in your area?
3) Who are your competitors? What makes you different from them?
Unless you're doing a bunch of local shows with minimal costs, it's not worth it. I've talked to many vendors over the years at different shows and food vendors can often break even but it's still a tough sell since many events have multiple vendors. I recently went to a small arts and crafts show across from the dog park I take my dog to - just to check it out- and they had five food vendors. Five. For a show with around two dozen art and craft vendors at the most.
People are not buying like they once did. Getting people to buy products at shows is getting very difficult other than at those with really deep pockets like WEF and Capital Challenge. And show numbers are down dramatically too so it is really difficult to make the numbers work. That is why there are so few vendors at the shows anymore. The Internet has also had a big effect.