Lesson Learned

We have really learned a hard lesson today when it comes to being vendors at the various festivals in Florida. Our biggest vending opportunity we were counting on was this year’s Florida Folk Festival. We applied the day after we received the email last September and submitted it electronically per instructions. We waited a week for the confirmation email but didn’t get it so I emailed again and asked for an updated. I received a response from the assistant stating that she would check on it. And I promptly forgot about it assuming that that person would get back to me if there was a problem. Since, our company name showed up on the website as craft vendors after Christmas I again assumed everything was okay. I even ran into the assistant last month to remind her we were planning on coming and she stated that as far as she knew everything was fine.

Today, when we went to check in and were told that our application was never received. Lord have mercy I really wanted to lose it right then and there. I mean I had respected the coordinator and did not bug her with emails or phone messages and assumed that the assistant would do her job. Well, lesson learned people I will always bug the mess out of any future festival coordinators until I receive a confirmation email or letter for all of our craft vendor applications. Now, we are just really sad and disappointed as well as angry at all the money, time and effort we have put into getting ready for the Florida Folk Festival these last 5 months. We were really looking forward to meeting some of the Florida State Park volunteers and park rangers we have worked with over the last couple of years as this events brings them in from all over the state. Of course, we were really looking forward to selling lots of handcrafted items as well. The Florida Folk Festival is now off our list of potentially great craft vendor opportunities for the next couple of years or until they get another coordinator at least.

To sum it up please save yourself future high-blood pressure episodes and make sure you follow up weekly with the coordinators of any major events you want to participate in. In the mean time we will be looking for fall festivals in our area we can participate in and have better luck. Sadly, this is the only event we know of that doesn’t charge a fee upfront to participate in. They charge a percentage of gross sales. That way if you don’t make money they don’t make money. So, if you are a fellow craft vendor in the North Florida area and know of any fall and winter events that charge a percentage of gross sales let us know!

Till next time, keep working on your special crafts and we wish you much luck in your future sales.

No White Tent Events

If you haven’t had a chance to join the No White Tent website/forum you might want to give it a try. They list mostly south and central Florida events on a regular basis but they allow their members to post events in Florida for craft vendors ourselves. I really could use some help adding events in the North Florida area. They do specialize in events that don’t cost an arm-and-a-leg for the craft vendors and usually ask for only those events for under $50. Of course, you can include events that are not strict about the type of vendor tent you have as well.

To post an event is pretty easy once you have joined the site. It doesn’t cost anything to join or add events either. They even encourage event coordinators to post their events on the site as well. Once you post the event it stays on your event listing so you can keep track of the ones you are most interested in attending. All you need is the name of event, copy of the event poster picture, the dates and times, who is sponsoring or coordinating that particular event, phone number, website address (or Facebook page), where being held, city and state and finally a brief description of the event. I try to remember to include the vendor fee amount and whether the application is available for download. I have already posted a couple events scheduled for the next couple of months.
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Northeast Florida Craft Vendors

Northeast Florida Craft Vendors really need more opportunities to sell their handcrafted wares. South and Central Florida really gets all the good events with tons of people attending until all the snow birds start heading back up north. It would be great if more of the state parks would start holding events all year long. In the late spring and summer concentrate on those parks with swimming areas. Maybe we should start our own coalition and lobby the start park event planners to allow us to hold events once a month in one or more of them in our area.

I cannot think of one state park in our area that doesn’t have a fairly large area where tents and trailers could be pitched, a small stage for local musicians to come in and play and the park visitors to come over and spend a little money. They could charge a percentage of sales as a vendor fee like the Florida Folk Festival. That seems more equitable to all parties. Most musicians would play for a small stipend or even free depending on the amount of advertising and if they were allowed to set up a table to sell the CDs.
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Enclosed Trailers For Craft Vendors

Finally, one of the trailer companies has decided to offer an enclosed trailer that fits us craft vendors. You can back it into a 10×10 space, take off the removable hitch, put the 4 little jacks under each corner and you are ready to start selling. You can add a small awning to the front to keep the weather off you and your customers, cut out one or both of the sides to put in those sliding windows with screens to let in some light and even wire up an air conditioner or ceiling fan to help keep you cool. You will probably want to paint the wooden walls, floor and ceiling or just put up some shelves and be done with it. If you’re handy with a paint brush you could paint your name and logo on the outside to advertising. But if you have a little extra money a “Wrap” might be better. Personally, I would love to paint the outside like one of those little cottages with flower pots, trees, windows and fencing. The barn doors in the back can be opened to let in some air and light or kept closed for added shelving space.
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Plan Your Vendor Ops 2017

Now is the time to plan our your craft vending opportunities for the coming year. 2017 can be your best year ever if you are able to plan which events you want to participate in, application deadlines, costs, etc. We are still in the process of gathering information about all the North Florida Craft Vending events happening in the coming months to post them here on our calendar as well as participating in some of them. I like the printed calender myself so that I can write down the information in the blocks and have a visual reminder of when the events are happening. It also helps you to plan out your costs in the coming months. Finally, depending on the number of participants in the previous years it may help you to figure out how much inventory to have on hand.
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