Small Businesses Find More Customers at Carnivals

Small businesses discover more than funnel cakes at summer festivals.

ByColumn By <a Href="" Target="external">susan Wilson Solovic</a> <br/> Sbtv Ceo
May 18, 2010, 6:44 PM

May 19, 2010 &#151; -- The lazy days of summer aren't so lazy for some industrious small business owners. Instead of spending their weekends lounging by the pool, they are spending time at community events and festivals -- cashing in by setting up tents and exhibits and selling their wares.

Summer festivals epitomize good old-fashioned American fun. Despite the summer heat, people come from all around to enjoy music and entertainment, arts and crafts, funnel cakes, snow cones and of course, cold beer. And small business owners hope the attendees are up for a little shopping too.

More and more business owners are viewing summer weekend festivities as a way to earn extra cash and build their customer base. Happily, for many the extra effort is paying dividends. Depending on the size of the show, the majority of small business owners say they can earn between $1,000 and $2,000 at each weekend More at some of the large national shows or high end art shows.

However, your sales success directly relates to how well you identify the right products for the type of event and its attendees. So it's absolutely imperative you do your research and choose wisely.

A juried jewelry designer, Mary Barge Hoar, sells her hand-crafted sterling silver jewelry adorned with Swavorski crystals at 20 to 45 events a year. In order to select an appropriate venue she turns to the Internet for extensive research.

"I look at what artists have previously participated in the event, the location, area demographics, cost, what other events are held in conjunction with the show, i.e., is there a tractor pull or other type of event that may not fit in with my target market. I also check with other artists," she said.

For Jane Townsend, owner of Embroidery Town, a company that creates customized embroidery products for businesses and special occasions, location is a critical factor in show selection.

"I have tried to stay within a 25-mile or so radius of my shop," she said. "Most of my sales are special orders and I either have to deliver them or my customer has to come pick them up."

Products that typically work well at outdoor weekend events are those that are reasonably priced, unique and are easy to carry around. So it's important to be realistic about your product selection and price points.

Here are a few additional tips to consider:

The work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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