It always amazes me when we go to a festival or event and find vendors that shouldn’t be there. I don’t mean that it’s the vendors fault. They are only going where they think the money is! Most of the vendors who go to these events are novices. However, when they don’t make any money or possibly loose some, they quickly learn, the hard way, to ask more questions from event organizers before they sign on the dotted line! Frankly, I think organizers who insist on having a vendors’ section even though it has no benefit to the event are misguided and are likely novices themselves! Without proper planning and marketing, vendor sections are doomed to failure! Vendors participate in festivals and events to sell their products and to make money! If an event is going to ask vendors to participate, the organizers need to provide the type of atmosphere that is conducive to buyers buying. Many event organizers believe that they need vendors to enhance their event. This, however, is only true if they have planned vendor sales as part of their festival’s program. Anything less than this is irresponsible! Most vendors are small entrepreneurial business people who “live” and “die” by their sales. Poor sales can be disastrous! There are enough uncontrollable elements that can affect their sales. They don’t need poor planning and apathetic organizers adding to these elements! Careful planning and intelligent promotion is a must! Festival organizers should make sure that if they are going to have a vendors’ section that it is well thought out and that they attract the right mix of vendors. Vendors, on the other hand, should know as much about the festival or event as possible and then asked a lot probing questions. Only then, once they are satisfied with what they have read and heard, should they agree to participate.
On a final note to organizers, if your festival runs into weather related problems and the financial results are poor, please remember your vendors. Most festivals are run by volunteers and are non-profit. If the festival loses money, there is no financial loss to the volunteers. On the other hand, weather can ruin vendors financially, especially if they have to pay large festival fees on top of their traveling and out of pocket expenses. Try to preplan a policy that takes these vendor losses into consideration. I know you don’t have a legal responsibility to help them, but I believe you have a moral responsibility to minimize their losses. Besides, I think it’s good business in the long run. Good hard working vendors are hard to kind and keep!