Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
In Selling Your Honey at Fairs and Festivals, Part 1: Planning Ahead, I discussed how to select a fair or festival, and some of the items you will need to acquire ahead of time to help make your day a success. In this blog I will discuss some more items to take care of as you get closer to the day of the festival.
Keeping Track of Sales
First, it is important to have a system in place to help you keep track of what is being sold during the festival. This can help you plan what to bring to future festivals as well as give you feedback on which items are good sellers, and which are not. Some vendors jot down each item sold in a notebook as they sell them. This method has never worked well for me. I find that it is difficult to keep track of everything if it gets very busy, especially if I am working by myself. It can cause customers to have a longer waiting time if they are purchasing many items, or if there is a line. Instead, we create a table with the following headings:
Item Price Amount Brought Amount Returned Amount Sold
We can then enter the amount of each product before we leave, the amount of each product we bring home, and calculate the amount sold. This could be done in a notebook or on a computer. Speaking of inventory, start working ahead of time to make sure that yours is in good condition. Honey jars should be uniformly filled, labels on straight, and no drips or stickiness on the outside. For any items, make sure that they are clean and in good condition.
Running the Stand
You will also need to decide who will be running your stand. At most of the fairs I can run the stand by myself, but at the busier ones my husband joins me to help out. Even at the smaller events, he usually comes by around lunch time to give me a break so I can have something to eat, check out the other vendors, etc. If for some reason he can't make it, I try to arrange for a friend or family member to stop by to help out.
Taking Care of Details
Another important item is to make sure you have enough change for the day! Bring a variety of denominations, including plenty of ones, tens, and fives. In my experience people often pay with a twenty dollar bill.
There are also a few other odds and ends that are nice to bring along: Drinks, snacks, and a chair can all help make your day more comfortable. Also, plan for the weather. At one memorable festival the day started out warm and sunny, but by early afternoon it had gotten so cold that there were actually snow flurries! Bringing extra layers, rain jackets, hats, etc. can make the difference between being comfortable and being miserable. I have also found that fingerless gloves are amazing. I can still wrap purchases and make change, but they do keep my hands nice and warm.
At outdoor festivals, you may also run into problems with a variety of stinging insects who are attracted to the honey and beeswax at your stand. In our area this is especially true if it is a warm, sunny, fall day. Another beekeeper told us that putting Bounce dryer sheets around the stand helps to deter these insects. We’ve tried it, and while not 100 percent effective, it does seem to help. You could also look at it as an opportunity to explain to the public the difference between honeybees and other stinging insects!
Some honey vendors also give samples of their honey – this is a great way to tempt people to buy your product! A simple way to do this is to have a squeeze bottle of honey and some small crackers. You could use plastic or wooden spoons instead of crackers, but this creates more waste, and the spoons in the garbage will certainly attract more of those stinging insects.
With all of the items to keep track of, it is a good idea is to create a master list of everything you want to bring with you. A day or two before the event, start gathering items and checking off the list. If any items can be packed on the days leading up to the event it will save you time in the morning. I keep a list on my computer that I can quickly print before each event.
Read Part 3: The Big Day! for a discussion on the actual day of the event, and what you can do to make the day go smoothly — hopefully to make it both fun and profitable!
Jennifer Ford owns and operates Bees of the Woods Apiary with her husband Keith Freeman. You can visit them at Bees Of The Woods.
Photo Credit: Keith Freeman
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