I'll admit it, I'm a little grumpy today. I don't consider my blog to be my favorite place to vent, but I'd like to know what you think. Maybe this does even have some relevance for homeschooling, at least my kids and I are certainly learning stuff here!
As the owner of a small business I need to find ways of getting out into my community and meeting new people who may be interested in working with me. If you are in sales one of the established ways of meeting new people is to do vendor events - fairs, festivals, bazaars and marts. Yet the more I do this the more I'm realizing that there are a bunch of folks out there who feed off the fees of small business owners like hungry sharks sneaking up and taking bites. The question is, is this reasonable, and if not what should small business owners do about it?
I'll give you an example. Last night I paid $85 ($60 table fee and $25 donation to a PTA auction) to attend an event which I was led to believe was established and had PTA support. I was quoted estimated sales of $500-1,200 per vendor for the previous year's event. I don't expect any kind of guarantee on my sales at an event like this, but I do expect the organizer to be responsible for generating traffic. Needless to say attendance at this event was far below what I'd been led to expect and there are plenty of clues to convince me that it wasn't a whole lot different the year before. My loss from this event turned out to be $63, and that's before I event count mileage or business overheads. Now the thing is that this event was a success for the organizer. There were 15 vendors there, which generated around $1,275 in fees for the PTA. I can't imagine that the PTA put out more than $275 in costs for photocopying and signage, therefore they made a nice little profit of around $1,000, meaning that for the organizer this was a success and they'll be happy to do it again next year, assuming they can find vendors.
No doubt I was not the only vendor who was disappointed with this event, but the thing is that there are a seemingly unlimited supply of small business owners, many of them in their first year of business, looking for events to do. Where's the incentive for an organizer to change their behavior when they can just go out and find a whole new set of businesses who will take part?
Well, the lessons my kids are learning from this may not be the ones I'd had in mind when I started up in business, but it's certainly learning. What do you think? Should a vendor expect a fee that is in line with the traffic for an event? Should organizers get away with raising funds at the expense of a different set of vendors each year? Is there something I should be doing to change this?