I recently read a jewelry hint newsletter that started something like this, ” I had planned out how to make my booth pretty, but I never realized what can happen if there is a nasty gusty wind.” When I mentioned this to a couple of my friends that I merchant with on a regular basis their response was “What planet does this person live on? Do they sell only at indoor events?” And that made me think that it might be time to write a blog about this topic. Most of the events that I do are outside.
If all you are going to do is sell at indoor events, your product problems are mostly limited to issues of appearance (make it look good), security (keep thieves from taking your stuff), and efficiency (fit as much into a small space while still making it functional). But if you are going to be selling at any kind of outdoor event you MUST consider what you will do if there is weather. And most of the time there will be weather, if not this time, then next time!
Here are the sorts of questions that you need to ask yourself in order to have a successful, weatherproof event.
Rain. If it rains can you protect your product and still be able to sell it? Is your product ruined if it gets wet? If your product is water sensitive, can you package it to make it safe and still have it be attractive to your customers? If your product is placed into a waterproof or water-resistant package, is it removable so that the customer can view it closely, or do you need to have a sample available. Is a sample enough. For instance, a handmade card, where the front of the card is the selling point is easily encased in plastic. A hand painted scarf, where each portion of the scarf is unique has to be in packaging that allows the entire scarf to be easily viewed and then put away again.
Dust. Yes, it does feel like the opposite of rain, but sometimes it can appear, even with rain. It can also turn into mud if there is a source of moisture. If the ground that you are on is covered with grass the amount of dust will be less, but road and foot traffic can sill stir up a surprising amount of dust. The longer an event is, the more likely dust is to be a problem. The grass can be trampled and the sprinklers can`t be run with vendors’ booths in the way. I have a friend who sells handmade soap and lotion bars who has lost product because it became coated with dust at an event. She now wraps her product in plastic for outdoor events. Also be aware of how difficult it will be to remove the dust from your packaging. Some packaging is more difficult to clean than others.
Wind. If the wind starts to blow will it damage your product? Will your product blow away? Will your display fall over?
Heat. Is your product heat sensitive? Will it melt or bend or slump or blurr?
Cold. Will cold make your product freeze, and if it does will it be ruined or break?
Light. Is your product subject to fading from exposure to light?
I hope that these thoughts will help you avoid some of the things that can go wrong in an outside vending environment, and better prepare to deal with the challenges that you may encounter. Planning can eliminate a lot of the drama. Next time we will discuss some display techniques that work well either inside or outside.