County Fair Vendor Disaster

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After being "invited" to participate in the MOntgomery County, Md., Agricultural Fair as a vendor with an indoor (air conditioned) booth, I decided to see how it would go. The woman who called said they have about 250,000 people who come thru each year. So I figured I would do okay. She said I would be the only bath and body products vendor there....and they needed someone in that category.

The buy-in: $460.

Going by the number of people that visit the fair,...I've been there in years past as a visitor....I hired another person to help me set up and staff the booth for the week.

When I got there, we were in the basement of a three-story building in the back section, next to very large jewelry display and amid a lot of unmanned "informational" booths.

In the front of the building was another soaper...from OUT OF STATE. I was a local I was miffed about that..and that she was given a booth in a more high traffic area. Plus, I was supposed to be the only person there.

The fair opened 3 p.m. on Friday. I made exactly $0 in seven hours. We closed at 10 p.m.

Saturday, we opened at 11 a.m., with only a trickle of people finding us throughout the day. By 7 p.m., we'd pulled in only $25.

The other vendors were doing as poorly or worse. Today, it was just as bad. I think I made $9. Soooo at about 3 p.m., I got fed up and pulled out of the fair. The jeweler said they planned to do the did several others.

Also, the entire network of ATM machines on fairgrounds ran out of visitors had no excess to cash for rides or food....they didn't take credit cards.

I spent a lot of money getting inventory ready for this fair and I"m pretty pissed off. Do I have any recourse??? I'd like to get my booth fee back, at least......

I don't do shows a lot because I have been afraid this would happen, I do pretty okay with Internet I think I won't do these again.
Shows are hit or miss & are a gamble at best. There are too many factors, weather, other events scheduled for the same day on the opposite side of town, the price of gas (cough cough) and dozens of other factors.

The only recourse you *might* have is if you have something in writing that proves they did not do what they said they would do. They can not guarentee numbers but if they guarenteed you were the only soap vendor, etc, you might have a shot but it's a long one.

I own a B&M and can say to my vendors, we sold *this much* last year, but there is no way I can guess how much we will sell this year or how much traffic we will have. It's an economic craps shoot. If I lie to get vendors, that's another story!
Craft fair disaster

Thanks Tab.

I am not optimistic I will get any money back, and I am chalking this up to a horrid learning experience.

Too bad vendors don't have some association to arbitrate for them.

Hey...why doesn't HSG do that??? Then they could throw up a list of venues to stay away from.....
There is an online craft show site & you are invited to rate shows you have been to.

Think, think, think... I think it is called craft listers.

But just cause it's great or aweful one year, doesn't mean it will be aweful or great the next.

Maybe you should check out craft listers.
Oh my. :cry: Sorry about such bad news.....

I hate when fairs/shows go like that.
i did a show for my massage biz last year. about the same price, and it felt like such a bust, people weren't even stopping. the only one doing well was the guy selling socks. i took that as a big learning lesson. but recently i had a woman who saw me there, tracked me down and started coming for regular masssages, booked a toe reading party, and 5 of her friend each got a massage. so, eventually i broke even!

maybe out of the little bit you sold you get some life-long customers who will come buy $460 worth of christmas gifts from you!
I wouldn't "throw the soap out with the bathwater". How will you know which shows are "your thang" unless you try out different venues? Determine what market you want to target & and how far you are willing to travel; then check to see what shows in your area may draw a number of your determined market. It's guess work in the very beginning but you'll narrow it down to what works! :wink:
I've never done anything like that, so thank you for posting about its dangers.

You learned a very expensive lesson. It sucks but at least now you know know for next time... and to try to get things like location and competition in writing.
Competition isn't a bad thing either by the way. Hopefully they just make you look that much better 8) .
I didn't see this post before replying to your other post about the organizer not replying to you. I'm sorry this happened to you, but I doubt seriously that you will get any response or any sort of refund.

I have become very selective in choosing events. I was so jazzed with some success at my first couple of shows that I was ready to set up at every po dunk festival within a reasonable distance. Luckily I had to pass on most because of a few conflicts. I did, however, visit a good many events in probably a 60 mi radius. OMG! Did I save myself time, $$, energy, and anything else. Many of the festivals and events had HUGE attendances, but the clientele certainly wouldn't have been buying from me. I would have come home feeling worse than you probably do right now.

My advice to anyone who hasn't gotten into the shows and festivals is to visit as many as you can first. I do quite well at the few that I do vend at, but I choose them more by WHO is attending rather than how many. One of my highest sales days was a little show attended by probably less than $200 people, but they were the sort of clientele that wanted my products.

So sorry about y our experience! :(
We do a small farmers market on sat's from July to oct. It only has about 15 vendors and is close to our home (10 minutes). We do steady 250-550 8am to 12pm. This past sat we went to try a new market about an hour away. It has 700 vendors and 15,000 people we did 180, the people who did buy averaged 20-30.00 per sale. moral of the story: Just cause there are more people,doesn't mean you will make more money!

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