Subj: Vending at Faire v.1.1
Compiled and Edited by Ann Neff
From postings to alt.fairs.renaissance and


BOOTHS, PAVILIONS, TABLES: Permanent and Portable
CAMPING: Merchants and Boothies

1. Permanent shops
2. Pavilions, booths
3. Setting up, stabilizing, and transporting
4. Stabilizing a tent in the rain
5. Sources for pavilions and tent supplies
6. Take-apart wooden table
7. What to do with a "table space"?

Does anyone know where you can get plans or blueprints for renaissance faire shops? Is there a web site that has them? We use a tent at the faire right now, but we are wanting to build a permanent structure in the future. I just wanted some general information on the structures so we know generally what to expect in what it will take to build one.

Subject: Re: plans for ren. faire shops
Since each faire has it's own building codes and requirements I do not think you will find a universal blueprint. I suggest you contact each faire you are interested in and see what their requirements are and go from there.

"Olde Hippie"
Subject: Re: plans for ren. faire shops
Plans for a Faire Shoppe? If you have a specific Faire in mind contact them and ask if they have any such things. I know they have a nice hand out at ORF with good guidelines.
Remember each Faire has different rules as to construction, and even if the Shoppe will be used for living quarters, and fire regulations need to be taken into consideration.

Subject: Re: plans for ren. faire shops
Hi. If you have some specific questions in mind, why don't you send me an e-mail. I don't have actual plans for you to see, but I have (with my ex-partner) built something in the order of 15 shops at the NYRF over the years, from the simple to the elaborate. One of these was the Fellowship Foundry shop, so if you want to check out my 'credentials', ask Bethany. Mention "Bigger Nail Construction". Send e-mail to: (info at tpoint dot com) ~spelled out for those rotten spambots~

Victor Smith
Subject: Re: plans for ren. faire shops
I've built 12 booths at 4 faires and while not having plans I've learned some lessons over the years. Think about light, were will the sun be DURING the fair season and during times of operation? Will you need shade? Will there be enough light to view your wares? Also consider air flow through the structure often a light breeze is nice but a wind can destroy displays. I hate steps into a booth, you must build ramps for HWDA, patrons can trip, and the customer can't just stroll in they must lift themselves up. Check water runoff we had to do a lot of work on my wife's site in Kansas but it paid off. Ceilings under 9' seem restrictive. For air and light I like cathedral ceilings best. Post and beam seem to work best for the open front craft booth, but be sure to use plenty of massive bracing and at least 6X6 treated posts. And be sure to keep you booth open and inviting unless security is a prime concern such as a jeweler or lampworker. Hope this helps.


Subject: Re: Exhibit booths
I've had a booth at a couple fairs for three years now, and these are some things I've found helpful.
What I started out with was basically a framework of wood (I used long branches gleaned from pruning mulberry trees, but any wood will work...or use PVC and camouflage it) and top and sides of cloth. I held it together by wrapping wire at the joins, then hiding it with sisal twine over it. (I prolly could have skipped the wire.) This first effort cost about fifty bucks, including pliers and wire cutters.
This year I bought a Damark wood and canvas gazebo and added fabric sides. I did need to replace the plastic fittings with metal ones for durability, but the whole shebang cost only around $300. It goes up fast, with the pushbutton latches (like vacuum cleaner sections have.)
I don't know your budget but I thought I'd pass on some tips for finding low cost materials:
Sources for fabric:
Goodwill warehouse/outlets-look for sliding door drapes in "period" colors/fibers. Available super cheap and yield huge panels of fabric once you rip out the pleats. (I still use 'em for the sides of my pavilion booth and to drape strategically over ice chests etc.)
Finding wood/frame work:
Ideally, plan ahead and collect prunings, failing that you can sometimes find used wood at construction sites (ask, of course). Another source of wood...pallets are often given away free. You can knock 'em apart for the wood. Try grocery stores, newspaper distributors, any local warehouses.
Other misc. tips:
Use a painters plastic backed (hard to find and about $25-30) canvas drop cloth for a ground cloth. If it's dusty or muddy, it will keep you & your inventory much cleaner. Get another to toss over the top of your booth in case of rain. (Or use it for the roof it is not too obviously plastic). I've seen booths collapse under the weight of rainsoaked fabric.
Plan on a divider than you can stash food and water, 20th century stuff behind.
Bring a broom to sweep off the "floor" and a watering can to damp down dust around the booth.
Plastic lawn & leaf size bags to pack wet stuff in if you get rained on.
Remember to get it out to dry or<Eeew!> it'll mold.
A fire extinguisher is *always* a good idea...get one big enough to be useful!


Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
I'd like to discuss the many ways of setting up, breaking down, and transporting one's stuff.
I do shows that set up on concrete, (no stakes)
Sand (no grip)
Terraces, (no vehicles)
Conventions, (no frame to hang or prop things on)
Go from a 10'x10' booth Outdoors, to a 6'x4' "table space" at a Con.
I know a lot depends on WHAT you are selling.
Any one else wanna talk nuts and bolts?

Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
One of the problems with the booth I built last year was that it relied on posts that stuck out of the bottom of the structure (11 of them to be exact) that sunk into the ground for support. Of course, the problems with this became obvious when at the first faire I took it to, the ground was rock hard, and it took almost 6 hours to dig out the holes to drop the booth.
The booth next to me had an ingenious setup that relied on little plywood triangles (3 for each corner- one on the bottom, and one each on the sides where the walls met) that when the booth was assembled, joined together to create a strong joint to hold it all in place. The weight of the booth itself held it down (not recommended I guess in a hurricane, but for most applications it seemed okay.) That method would probably be okay on both sand and on concrete. I don't know what you'd do at a con, though. But I'm gonna find out soon enough, I suppose, as I'm sposed to have a "table space" at an Interior Design Society resource night in April.

Subject: Re: plans for ren. faire shops
If what you are thinking of is a set-up and tear-down, transportable thing, make sure the disassembled pieces you design can fit in whatever vehicle you plan to use for transporting it. The basic units should be sturdy enough to withstand the handling inherent in set up/tear down. Make sure all parts are coded in some way so you remember how to put it together. (Yes, I know that seems obvious...except to certain folks in SLO, apparently...) Basic tool set up is really nice...nuts/bolts should be the same size throughout if possible-this is especially handy if setting up after dark!
Another consideration if you want to set up in different locations is some sort of design that allows the structure to be leveled by shims/excavation at key points, rather than along the entire structure. I hope this was helpful to *someone* out there.

Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
For weights at the bottom of the poles would burlap sand bags work? Or perhaps a cinder blocks with a burlap wrapping? The downside of either method is that if the wind is strong enough you now have a very heavy projectile, or a few of them, traveling in an uncontrollable manner.

Lara the Lacemaker
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
And heavy stuff to transport (;^p)...maybe some sort of water fillable item would be effective? I get those big buckets that'd prolly hold several gallons of water...then I could just dump it when the show was over and nest the buckets for travel and storage...hmmm...put lids on so kids won't drown...maybe pad as well as cover em so they could be sat upon...

Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
Having been through one serious thunderstorm with high wind, where I was holding down the gazebo(one of those $50 types) I'd say a 20 lb. weight at each corner would likely do it, and I wouldn't worry about "projectiles".

Lara the Lacemaker
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
That's what I use, except it was more than $50...more like $300 after modifications!
I started with a Damark gazebo-it has a wooden frame and I replaced the cheapo plastic joints with metal and added sides made from goodwill drapes. I really like the ease of set-up and it looks pretty good. I arranged it so I can have one solid wall and then open any (or all) of the remaining three; I screen off the rear for 20th century stuff I need to hide. My next goal is to add a shade awning for those hot sunny days.
Prop-wise I scored a neat wooden table that has legs that slide off...sort of a dovetail arrangement hold 'em on: |\ \/ /|
I can strap it to my car (I travel in my Toyota Corolla piled to the sky). I have some small wooden seats and various feast gear. I'd like to find a way to have add'l seating for folks that want to stop and watch a bit while I do my lace. I've seen some slot and tab benches...but I don't know where to find plans for 'em. Any sources?

Beth -Peldyn
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
I know that Crafts O' the Dell sells break down chairs and benches at SCA events. I got mine at Potrero War in San Diego. I even have break down tables, clothing and jewelry racks from them.

Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
just a comment about weights...
you'll find that canvas sandbags of 50 lbs or so work well at each pole. i have used two 50 lb bags on each corner in fairly windy conditions and not had much trouble. in really horrid outdoor conditions rig an extra 25 lber or two for the tops of the poles. be certain these bags are firmly attached or you'll end up experiencing gravity's effect much like Mr. Newton and his apple. another suggestion in dealing with sandbags is to actually hang each bag at the base of the pole rather than allowing them to lie on the ground at the pole... this gets them out from under your customers' feet. cinderblock work well too, but if you accidentally run into them with a toe or shin.... OW!

Queen Maggie
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
Try sandbags. Many theatres that don't let you nail into the floor use them.

Olde Hippie
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
When we were in Texas last year one of our 'neighbors' had a rather interesting method to hold down his tent/canopy. He had 3" to 4" diameter PVC pipe, about 3' long, with a cap or plug firmly attached to bottom and filled with sand and/or pea gravel. One was then suspended from each of the four corners.
He uses this arrangement for parking lots, grassy areas, and even inside buildings. The devices were hung with rope and for those fairs/shows that didn't want the tubes showing I guess he wrapped them in burlap or some such thing.

Bob &or Barbara
Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
I do something similar. I went to the local dump and got some window sash weights. I put 2 in each PVC pipe and filled them up with plaster of Paris to prevent movement. I have one on each corner of my EZ-UP. If the wind is strong enough to make me feel worried, I'll be packed up and waiting out the storm indoors
I use a folding cart made by Rubbermaid. Got it at Costco 2 yr. ago. Loads can be held down with bungies. I've seen folding dollies for sale at Costco from time to time. Both will fold into a compact size for storage.

Subject: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
Thanks all for many great Ideas!
Some I had tried before, some I'll look into.
I've found that the Florida shows are pretty forgiving and that I can use my Easy-up frame as long as I put "socks" on the legs.
I have cloths that drape over the cross supports that are in the middle of the tent, and I designed a custom top that Panther Pavilions made for me. (Plug, Plug. They are GOOD!) The inner rainflap is extra long and I fold it up and around the perimeter crosspoles and hold it up with industrial Velcro. No Mundainitys showing!
With Panther's wall system I can put up or leave off any of the walls I want. I've even pegged them out with ropes and poles for awnings.
The big secret on all sites is transport.
How do you get your stuff to where you set up. INDOOR shows especially. I have a tendency to go all out and build carts that become my display tables as well as hold and transport my stock!
I've seen friends get an old bureau at Goodwill, put wheels on it, and push it up a ramp into their minivan. Instant set up!
Small cars complicate matters, but some form of wheels is a godsend.
Let's hear more!

Celebrations Unlimited asked:
My brother is at his first ren faire as a vendor and is having a catastrophe! They have a traditional canvas ren faire sort of tent, supported by stakes (12"). The problem - it is raining furiously and his tent will not stand up in the mud. Apparently the mud is very deep and goopy, and he believes even longer stakes would slide out of it, as the ground is so saturated.
Is there any pearl of wisdom out there that could help him? Any suggestions would evoke my deepest gratitude :-)

hmmm... how would sinking the bottoms of the stakes into cinderblocks work? (Make sure to cover the blocks in bright cloth or some such to disguise the blocks, yet make them very visible so no one trips.) If there is straw, cut grass, rushes, etc. available, spread that on the ground... it will help cover and soak up the mud. (Fallen pine needles will work.) Other than that, stacking rocks or sinking the stakes deeper seem to be the only possibilities.
If he can tie the stakes together in some out of the way place (near the tops, middles and bottoms) that will help them from going out in random directions. Of course, to get into and out of the tent, some will have to be left untied. hmm... sorry I can't help too much more than that.. This is one reason why crafters hate rain shows... Pray tell, where is he? Someone on here may be able to provide more location- specific advice. Good luck to him! It sounds like he'll need it!

Use concrete blocks, or plastic 5 gallon pails filled with water. Tie the ropes to that. ya may have to adjust the position every so often if they slide. cover them in burlap to hide them from sight.

Go to any local supply place. Get some 4 foot rebar and a small hand sledge. That will help you. You can also try staking your existing 12" stakes to second or even third 12" stakes, though I doubt that will help you by the sound of it. You may also try lowering the center post(s) of the pavilion if they're adjustable when it rains....
As far as drying goes, you should be fine, just keep an eye on the ropes so that as it dries and SHRINKS (Sounds like this might be a first time with this tent, though I could be wrong) you won’t end up popping the seams anywhere... loosen the guy lines a little bit as it dries... or tighten, depends on the rope you have to tie down with and all.... Just be aware that this tent (you say it's canvas) will grow and shrink depending on its wetness.
As long as it's up off the ground, you should not need to worry about mildew, etc. If you DO get some, use some bleach/water solution and a good stiff bristle brush to wash it, unless your pavilion is colored, then just use dish detergent type soap and water and the same kind of brush.
I've much experience with canvas tents... I've put up and taken down and stored and unstored literally thousands of them (And no, that wasn't in the army or military). If all else fails, revert to homebrewing rules 'relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew'. :) Good luck!!!

If he can get a hold of some re bar or fence post stakes (the flat sort that are made to use with hog wire fencing) he may be able to drive them in deeply enough...trench around the tent and channel run off away from the area he has staked into. A big problem is the canvas will become incredibly heavy as it gets wet and so his supports may also need to be beefed up. From time to time he needs to check that water is not pooling up on top of his "roof" and if it is, use something to lift that area and get the water off before it causes the tent to collapse. If this is his in faire booth, he may be able to find plastic coated painter drop cloths to toss over the roof and shed some water...if it is ok not to be period, he can use plastic tarps the same way (they are much cheaper, too).
Depending on the weather he gets as he's drying it, it will take at least a week-longer if humidity/fog/dew is present..but do NOT try to store it until COMPLETELY dry. Even nylon type fabric will mildew (and it STINKS most horribly the next time one attempts to use it) and canvas will rot and weaken as well as stink fiercely. He will prolly have to roll it up to transport it home from faire, but it should be set back up immediately after he gets it home and allowed to dry THOROUGHLY. (I cannot stress this enough!) A fan set inside the tent to help circulate air will help. I have a huge canvas tent more than twenty-five years old and it is still in great shape!

M'me Vivienne d'Rais
We've got a lot of trees, both cedars and leafy types. A few of our vendors brought some extra ropes and tied the canvas roof sections to trees around them (which is fine; Parks people have no problem with that - we actually have more trees than we would like at this point). There are enough available ones to do that, or we can find you another spot once they get the next load of mulch put down this week. (In fact, if the mulch gets put down, I've got some possible spots closer to the front gate that may work very well.

We’re in Oregon so we get used to a wet pavilion. : )
We pack it back up wet and haul it home.
If the weather clears we just set the thing back up and let it dry out.
If rain persists we hang it in our garage from ropes to make sure it will have plenty of air circulation around it.
I leave the garage door open and a window.
If it's really humid and wet I set up a turbo fan to pull air through.
No mildew yet.

LordRBoyd>Is there any pearl of wisdom out there that could help him? Any suggestions would evoke my deepest gratitude :-)
Ok i have to say it, cuz i play a noble and well my first year i did this......Hotel


Subject: Re: Tent Sources was: Props for faire
For everyone that has been looking for tent ideas and supplies I thought you might like to look at this site. It is an amazing amount of information on places to purchase and how to make tents.
Medieval Pavilion Resources


Olde Hippie
Subject: OT ? You decide-LONG
Greetings Curious One,
We display some of our wares on tables, and since metal folding tables are not period, not to mention expensive, we use wooden trestle tables. One is "solid" and I made it about 12 years ago. The other is a "take-apart" table.
I have been asked a couple times how to make it, so finally did a rather crude drawing with descriptions. This is a simple table, however you can fancy it up as you desire. The solid one has gently curved sides or legs, and the spanner is thicker and I affixed a fancy woodcarving to the front side.
I used white pine without an abundance of knots, but knots could add character if you desire. Plain 2X4s were used for the feet, and at the underside of the table to hold the sides. I used two 6" pieces of old broom handle, tapered at one end to create a wedge to hold the spanner to the sides. I notched the top and bottom of the sides and cut holes through the 2X4s to accept the notched sides, sort of a mortise and tenon fit.
The sides were affixed permanently to the feet, and the top of the sides were fitted into the 2X4s under the top and then drilled through to accept a 1/4" dowel. The entire table assembles/disassembles easily into 4 large nearly flat pieces of wood, plus the 4 dowels. All travels easily in our station wagon, without taking a lot of space.
Check the website and see if this all makes sense, and if it is something you could use. I am not charging for this...heck the idea is eons old...just would like to know if you find it useful, and did, or will make one, and how you modified it if you did make it. I left sizes out deliberately because only you know how large/small you need it.


Lady Niniane
Subject: Re: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
If you are not using a "tent" or other over-head cover, the best idea is to take a regular fold-up table (not card tables unless yours are a _lot_ sturdier than any we have), and set it up near the front of your space. Then cover the entire table, including the front and sides with some sort of cloth, set up your chair directly behind, and use the hidden area under the table for extra stock storage. Depending upon the size of the space, you may have room to put up a second table all the way at the back of your space, and you can do the same thing there. (Indoor events around here usually offer 10' x 10' spaces, which are big enough for two 8' tables and a couple of chairs.)
This offers two advantages - your extra stock, etc. stays in your area, close at hand but not easily accessible to sticky fingers, and you can still make your space look unique by customizing the cloth covers.

Subject: Re: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
If I may be of some minor assistance, I used to design for trade show layouts and booths, granted that wouldn't apply to the typical "Faire" set-up but for an Interior Design Show it may.
Even though you state you have "table" space, that has several meanings, how much exact space do you have apportioned to you? Is it a 6' or an 8' table, standard height or counter height, or is those options?
The obvious type of display is poster size high resolution photographs either in a flipboard setup or in a spread out display. If you have some small samples of what can be done those make great display pieces since the prospective client can then pick it up and hold it, more of a personal touch thing. Also, a lot of types of individuals like fancy bottles and such for decorative pieces to highlight the rest of a room which your bottles and boxes would also work as excellent accents, so of course have some of those on hand, perhaps collect business cards in a painted fishbowl for a drawing for the bowl? *g* People like to get something free at tradeshows, and they'll almost always drop business cards in to register for a freebie and that gives you a quick database of people interested in your products.

Trong Trongersoll
Subject: Re: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
I suspect the concerns in a table space area are:
1. defining your space
2. crowd control
3. a modicum of security.
How about building railings, walls, whatever out of PVC pipe available at hardware stores and plumbing supply. they do it for highway construction markers. for walls use the pipes as the frame work and either hang cloth from it, or if ya want something a little less flimsy, put snaps on the pipes & cloth and snap your cloth to the frame. Now i've never done this. well i did use snaps to outfit a canoe with a cover. worked well. and there may be major flaws to this idea, but on the surface me thinks it should work. for transport all ya have is pipes and cloth.
<thinking> i can see it now, Elf will paint the plastic pipes to look like wood or stone or something.

Queen Maggie
Subject: Re: Booths. was Re: Topic, topic, who's got a Topic!
If you use copper pipes and fittings, it's not very much more expensive, and they go together about as easily as do the plastic ones. (I actually use these in my garden with stained glass doodads and ornaments as finials to grow things on and define areas without getting the homeowners association Nazis on my case about "permanent structures")

Camping - Merchants and Boothies

The topics covered are:

Ralph E. Nelson
Subject: Very looong reply to Re: Camping for Merchants
" I would like some opinions and info on how merchant camping is handled at different faires....for some reason I thought my manager or someone would help me with figuring out the camping thing, but it was explained to me that it was solely my responsibility and my employers were busy with their own troubles....The fact that I had never done any of this before - worked for a faire or a merchant or had to make this kind of camping arrangement - was the problem because I wasted a lot of time and good camp sites figuring it out for myself."

Yup. At this point, the employers/booth owners are trying to get their booth back in shape, repair the XYZ that got messed up during the last week of faire last year that everyone thought would be no problem fixing before this year begain, *and* get enough stock ready for opening day. Even taking time out to meet with prospective employees is budgeted carefully.

Seems pretty typical. I have not *camped* at MDRF but have merchanted there for several years now and since I live fairly close I hear all kinds of things. As for deadlines, *everyone* is flexible if you: 1) ask nicely; and 2) have a reason for wanting the flexibility (like having *just* been hired. If you are the type to put it off til the last minute year after year and never remember your manners, you may wind up sleeping in your car though. *eg*

Unfortunately this is often the case. I know of more than one person who has moved their campsite after (and even during!) opening weekend or after the first rainfall of the season.

Read my note above. Your employer doesn't really have the time to do anything other than the 17,003 things they already have to do. It sounds harsh, it sounds cold, but it is often the case. For employers hiring at shows on the road (as opposed to their own home-shows), it is even *more* impossible since they often don't get to town until a few days before it all begins themselves.

Having been to a number of Pennsics (4? or is it 5?) and Fests (camped at 5 in the last 2 years), I can tell you that what you are experiencing is *not* unusual nor is it to be worried about. The people (Poobah's) that get the same spots year after year typically get there the day (or the day *before*) the campgrounds open or send a representative to do just that. Generally speaking, if you are just getting into this, you are: 1) not likely to get there early enough to "encroach" on anyone else's spot; and 2) likely to be forgiven as a newbie if you do.

Many Fests' campgrounds are set up more by the residents than by the festival. Water & power hookups (where available) typically give an *idea* how the site will run, but that is about the extent of it. The one exception in *my* experience is GARF. They have a campground director and a full-fledged camping area, complete with regular water (& power) hookups. Then again, they also don't allow camping in tents -- RV/motorhomes only unless you are staying in your booth. You pay your fee there and pull right in to the spot you are assigned. Don't know offhand if the assignment is made ahead of time or first-come first-served since I camp in my booth there.

I believe that some employers may, in fact do this [organizing a camp for themselves and their fellow employees], and I give them full kudos for finding the time to do it. I think, more often though, when people have spent all day long in a booth together, it is a good idea to let them camp somewhere other than under each other's noses... just for a break.

Here is the info that I know of at the faires I where have camped:

The SCRIBE Network tries to capture a Participant Facilities that address the on and offsite accomadations available for all participants. You may wish to check there as well as seeing what the faire offers itself.

Subject: Question for Vendors
I would like to be able to take credit cards at my booth this year. I have begun to look into this and it looks rather expensive. Also, there seems to be a lot of companies I've never heard of offering these services. I was wondering if any vendors out there who take credit cards have some words of wisdom for me. I remember someone posting a while back about a company that had ripped them off. Any do's and don't's as well as recommendations you can offer would be appreciated.

Subject: Question for Vendors
When As you Like It (formerly Solstice) decided to accept credit cards, we went to the bank that has our business account and set up our credit card acceptance. I believe it cost us $80.00 for the initial set up. We then pay a minimum of $15.00 a month, or a percentage of our credit card sales per month. The percentage is figured on a sliding scale depending on the average amount of our charges. The higher the price on the individual charges, the lower the percentage.
Now, we do not have electronic card processing. We use the "knuckle buster" and call in on a cell phone for approval for each sale. The electronic card swipe machines are expensive and completely impractical in most cases at a ren faire. Unless you have a phone line hook-up, and really care to spend that much on the machine, there really isn't any reason why you can't use the "knuckle buster".
We've accepted credit cards for two years now, and it has made such a difference in our sales, and we have yet to have a single problem.
Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free.

NobleOne from SoCal
Subject: Question for Vendors
Have to agree with using the "knuckle buster" & cell phone method for faires/ swap meets, etc. Been doing that for 3 years... Now we are looking to start automatic processing via a web soon this year...

Steve Urbach
Subject: Question for Vendors

Subject: Question for Vendors
We looked in to going though our bank. Quickly ran away!
Shopped around through a few different brokers.
Ended up going with Novus the folks who have Discover.
Equipment was a one time fee of $300.
No monthly service charges.
We could have bought a module for the cellular phone that would let you swipe the card only the little gizmo was $250. It gives you a lower interest rate to swipe the card but not enough to justify the cost.
Did I mention I am cheap? : )
That and we don't always have power at events.
We call in our sales. This only becomes a hassle when have a big crowd waiting in line.
Some companies want you to estimate your yearly sales when you sign up to decide an interest charge for you. Estimate high, they will give you the cheaper rate for a year and if you don't end up meeting the sales they will adjust but, you still get the cheaper rate for a year.
The ability take plastic is absolutely necessary to increase sales.
People are more likely to impulse shop.
They don't like to carry around large amounts of cash.
The first event we started taking cards at doubled our revenue from the previous year.
All sales over a hundred dollars are always paid with by plastic in our booth.
Good Luck!

Lady Niniane
Subject: Question for Vendors
Laura, I will also echo what Lavndar (As You Like It) said; check with your home bank first, and start off with the manual approval process. For the St. Louis faire, we are setting up our ticket sales cc processing through the bank that has the business account for RenStLouis; their fees are not the cheapest, but they have a physical presence close to the faire site and lots of local people to contact if there are problems.

K. Kalani Patterson
Subject: Question for Vendors
Only one comment re manual credit card sales... make sure you call them in for approval! I'm no expert on the process, but back when I worked for Bullseye Bota at NYRF, we didn't have electronic doohickeys, we just used a knucklebuster and sent them to the owner after every weekend to process. They lost something like $800 that faire in bad charges... and had already paid the faire their percentage!
I understand power difficulties, but a car battery and $5 radio shack cigarette lighter adapter, or an inverter if you want to spend a few more bucks, works wonders! And the money you pay for the equipment will pay for itself the first time you save yourself from a bad card, not to mention the lower rates others have mentioned.

Subject: Question for Vendors
I have the electronic swipe machine and have learned a few things.
1. Make sure you can hook it up to a cell phone. When I got mine they said, sure I can hook to a cell phone. They didn't say it had to be a Motorola and I had to pay $250.00 for the cord.
2. Get a portable battery to run the machine, the internal battery on mine only for lasts 3 hours of use. Lori, of Celtic Circle has a set-up she made with a car battery. I am looking to make one myself. I tried to use mine with its internal battery alone at Estrella and there is nothing more frustrating than having your battery go dead in the middle of a transaction.
Good Luck!

Faireweather Griff
Subject: Question for Vendors
While I'm not a vendor at faire (nor do I play one on TV) I *did* have occasion to employ the services of a credit card processing company for a while in conjunction with a BBS that I ran.
Be *very* careful.
The card service offered its services at transaction rates that were considerably cheaper than my local bank would provide. The contract, however, was something less than clear, and I relied on the interpretation of the salesman for things like the terms of the equipment lease, etc. To put it simply, he lied to me in a most blatant fashion. The whole fiasco cost me about $3,000 over 4 years, for a service that I actually used for less than three months.
It was an expensive lesson for me, but an effective one. Today I read every single word on every contract I sign. Anything that is less than clear to me will either be written in terms that I *do* understand, or will be handed to my lawyer for his interpretation.

Olde Hippie
Subject: Question for Vendors
A couple points I didn't see in the thread yet. As to calling the charges so either right away, or ASAP after closing. We ask for the buyer's phone number to be written on the charge slip, before they even sign.
Note: For ~most~ companies that honor credit cards, this_is_not_allowed! We tell the customer up front about the rule, and explain it is ~only~ if there is a problem with their charge, so far no one has refused. Now if we get a larger dollar amount that we do not wish to lose (with a bad card), we call it in right away, and do not ask for their number. We only ask when the shoppe is real busy, if we have some phone problems, or if we do not recognize the customer at all.
If you have access to electricity and use a cell phone bring along your charger. (phone charger--not your favorite jousting steed) Because of our health problems we do not stay overnight at Faire. For Bristol we go home each night and recharge the phone, and at ORF we recharge the phone at the Motel each evening.
If you use a cell phone, AND your Faire is NOT in your area, do check to see if your phone will be usable in the new area, and ask how do you access the service in the new area. Also check if "roam charges" apply. With our old phone/company even though Bristol was supposed to be a 'local' charge, because we were so close to Illinois our connection was picked up with a service there and we had to argue the excess fees away. (once threatened to report our service provider to the State Attorney General for fraud B4 they allowed the reduced fees)
Good luck, and I hope these things help.

Steve Urbach
Subject: Question for Vendors
Bring a Marine/RV battery to run everything otherwise, depending on the battery and type of equipment, the battery will last 2 to 5 days of use.
I say equipment, because if you run an inverter to use Stationary store type CC equipment, it will suck more power and all the time it is ON.
Tranz420 portable units and their ilk, power down after a short period (if set correctly by your processor).
Remember to re-charge the battery after use as dead batteries quit for good sooner.
BTW we run a Laptop POS computer and an Industrial Receipt printer as well as our Credit card radio for 3 days on the large (size27) Marine battery. That's SCA type merchant days of 8 AM to 8 PM

1. Name Originality
2. Retail License
3. Business Cards? Brochures?
4. Insurance

Name Orginality
Some things to consider when choosing a similar name. If any of the other companies trademark the company name you will have to change your company name.
So many Dragonfly companies including another Dragonfly Design started popping up we looked in to making our name a trademark. When you register with your state for a business license you can check to see if that name is still available. In our state you have to be licensed in every county you plan to do business in. I let our registration slip by a few months and someone took Dragonfly Design so we became Dragonfly Design Studio.
This is also important if you plan to have a web page. Check and see if anyone else already owns the URL for your company name.
If it were me I wouldn't want to be at the same faire with a company with a similar name. It would just cause confusion. It might also be perceived badly if the first company has been around for a long time and is well established and liked by the faire community.

Are there any online searches I can check for registered names? My husband and I are starting a business and would like to have at least a few possible names before we take this to a lawyer.

William O'Rourke:
You might try the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
If it's been registered with the Fed's they've go it somewhere, but it'll take some looking to find or not as the case may be.

Retail License
To be a vendor at Faire do you have to have a retail license for the state where the faire is being held, or is it enough that you have one in the state of residency?

Done some research about this.
Depends on the state you are in, the state the faire is in, how much volume you do in that state, sometimes what county the faire is in.
For example:
When we first looked into doing business at the NJRK, we called up the sales tax folks (after all in NY you pay tax on everything (we sell clothing)) and was told we had to have a license. Good enough. When we jumped through the hoops, and got the papers we found out 1) there ain't no tax on clothing, 2) we still had to have the form posted 3) NY and NJ have a reciprocal tax agreement if you are in certain counties, if you do more than x volume you can participate and send one check in, and don't have to have a certificate. To do mail order to a state sometimes you have to collect sales tax for that state as well if they have a reciprocal agreement with yours. (Yes this does read like stereo instructions).
All in all, contact the sales tax department for your state. The three I have talked to, have been very helpful in resolving the details.

Business cards? Brochures?
What can works best for the customers who want something to remember you by? A business card? Brochure? What needs to be on it?

I can't remember if I've mentioned that we had a healthy increase in off-season sales when we switched from giving out business cards to having a simple mail-order flier. In the first year we went from 2-3 Christmas season phone/mail orders to over a dozen.
We figured the difference is business cards are too easy to lose, and if you find a detailed mail-order brochure in a purse/ jacket pocket two months later it's easier to remember what you were interested in. A mail order flier is also better than a business card for people who pick one up because "my friend would be interested in this..." since the friend is able to see some of the products right off the bat.
A simple B & W photo-copied fliers might be a little more to reproduce per copy than a simple business card, but you can get more at any self-service copier without waiting for a printer, and they've definitely been worth the change for us.

The artist I work for has one of her paintings as the background of the card we hand out.
Addresses to web sites help a lot too!

Flyers are wonderful. We cover all bases these days. Business cards are for people who want to slip them in a rolodex. Flyers as you mentioned since they are cheap to print. A flyer also lets you customize for each event, offer discounts if you mail in a coupon, and advertise your next event. For those who want more we also offer at a small fee a print catalog for the cost of printing it.
We like to promote events we plan to vend at so we always provide copies of flyers for faires we will attend as well.
A nice display on the edge of the booth with cards and flyers gives the non-shoppers something to read while the rest of the family looks through the booth.

Steve Urbach:
People grab business cards and flyers at Faire (and other places) and later leave them on other merchants' shelves/tables/counter.
Choose what you think is most effective for your business.
BE SURE to proof read all copy for CORRECT address, phone (include the latest Area code for your area. A local vendor mailed us one of thousands of post cards with an Area Code that had expired six months before). Include your e-mail and WEB address. Be sure the printer does not change any "Case" of letters as many sites are sensitive to differences.


Most fairs require booth owners have liability insurance. The fair management sometimes suggests agents, but "You gotta shop around...!" Check with your current insurance agent, they can sometimes give you a multi-policy discount if you insure your car, RV, home, and booth all through the same agent.
Insuring your stock: Ask your agent about getting a rider on your home insurance to protect your stock from theft/fire. There's usually a limit, so it probably will not cover everything, but it can provide partial coverage without the expense of a separate business policy. Have you thought about what losing the master copies of your artwork would do to your business?)
I've asked about it before, but after the fire at MNRF does anyone have suggestions for fire/vandalism/storm insurance for booths? The quotes we've gotten so far have been as much as it costs to insure our home (or more!).

Some vendors use computers extensively to track projects, and customers -- what about insurance for that? -- MAKE A BACKUP, of course, is the cheapest answer :-)

A rider on your homeowners or renters insurance is usually needed if you want to protect your computer. I think most have a $500 cap on computer equipment. I got a rider for $3000 coverage for about $10 a year. I need to check about what I need to cover my jewelry work though. I'm sure that part isn't covered either.

Victor Smith:
Here's who I carry liability and fire with Showmen's Ins. 4747 W. Peterson Suite 400 Chicago, Ill. 60646 ask for Steve Brody at 773-282-6900 I've been with them since Pinehieghts folded in the mid-80's and they've always given me good service and prompt certificate of co-insurance at no additional costs. I've had food, game and craft booths all under them. Mention my name if you call, it can't hurt.

The main factors that these people noticed are first-timers (with Discount Coupons) vs. regular Patrons, the weather, and if it is the weekend between paydays (the 1st and 15th in many areas). There are those who first came to faire because of discount coupons, and now attend and participate regularly.

Chas wrote:
We've noticed on days/weekends when we know there are a lot of patrons getting in on discounts or comp. tickets, our sales are less, and that the general character of the audience seems different -less willing to play along with street characters (more "dain-bramaged" -they just don't "get" things).
It's almost like most of the patrons getting in with discounts are those who can't afford to buy anything from merchants, or would not normally attend a Renfaire in the first place.
(My personal theory is there are 2 types of people in Minn.: those who like the MN State Fair, and those who like MN RenFest. Those Norvegian-Lut'ren-farmer-types who like the State Fair only come to the Renfest if they get a discount -then refuse to have a good time.)
Anyone else notice similar phenomena?

Yes! They act surprised when I ask them into the shop! I think that they think that all the shops are little stage sets? I dunno -- it is very weird.
Sales are definitely lower on the days kids get in free -- parents trying to keep the kids occupied on the cheap are probably first time faire goers who aren't prepared mentally for what is at a faire. They may continue coming to faire after this time, but that first time in, they want to walk the grounds, look at the joust, the big cats, and the birds of prey, maybe get their faces painted, and then leave.

Lady Niniane:
One thing that discount coupons can do is to generate interest in a new faire, in an area where faire has not previously existed/flourished, i.e., our new St. Louis faire.
We had quite a few people come in with our $2-off discount coupons in hand, not having any idea what to expect. More than a few of them came back the next day or weekend, and brought others with them.
How do I know? I saw returnees come to my Children's Realm, wearing/carrying the belt/pouch/wand they had made the previous day/weekend, and dragging a friend with them to try the next thing we had - and their parents were right there with them, smiling. (We used different fabrics/materials each weekend - made it fairly easy to identify which day the youngling had come <g>)
As mentioned elsewhere in the thread, a discount coupon can indeed be the ticket to a long-term association with faire, especially when the players/workers take the time to work with the brain-overloaded (not damaged) newbie patrons. I do know that our list of possible volunteers is substantially larger than it was at the beginning of the faire run (we took names of interested people for next year).

I tend to agree with the negativity of coupons and other discounts. We at Hawkwood (well, mostly me) have resisted using them to a great extent in the past. My firm belief is that if you don't want to come to HW for $12, you don't want to come for $10, and we just end up losing the $2 to the folks who would be coming, anyway (and for a new faire like us, that does make a difference). However, this year we are trying something a bit new. We are using some coupons and some other discounts, but only in very specific ways. Of course, we have always offered discount advance season passes. It is only natural for us to want to reward our best supporters with a bit of a savings. But, we have also included discount coupons on our far advance flyers. We start handing out flyers in October. So, we are thinking that having a coupon will help someone decide to hold onto the brochure and will better remember to come to the faire 10 months later. The idea also was to mark the coupons and track which ones came from which events. Of course, you know how that goes. Maybe next year. Tracking advertising is as problematic as it is necessary.
We are also going to run a first weekend coupon in the paper and see how that works out. Just one day and only for the first weekend. We'll see how it goes this year. I have never been a big fan of competing on price. Of course, I'm not a particularly big fan of competing at all. You offer something that people really, really want, and the price becomes less of an issue.

brother william:
Have you tried something "free"? The carved flowers drew a crowd, took time, occupied the kids long enough for mom and pop to begin to not worry that they were going to loose the farm to whatever the kids spent. I think some of the venders enjoyed my being about because it gave more time for the rest of the family to browse (it also worked for entertaining the parents while the kids went for the "Dragon Claws").

-That's just it. We set up our shop in what we like to think is a "coffee house-like" atmosphere. It's a double-wide booth with half a dozen tables with benches so patrons can come in a learn a game for free. We have a sign out front saying playing is free, and we hawk the games saying come in and try one free. But on weekends when we learned there were a lot of patrons in on passes, or discounts, there seems many more people who would come in, sit down and stare blankly at us when we tried to teach them a game, and more who come in to play with us but don't purchase.
Admittedly sales were down for lots of crafters at MNRF probably due to the weather last year. -Everyone's a little brain-dead when it's so humid you have to swallow to breath. But we had heard a rumor that even the owner mentioned in a meeting that maybe they need to market to a more affluent crowd since attendence was up, but over-all sales were hurting for many people.

Faith Moser:
In my personal experience at Catskill at MDRF, we noticed that Children's Day (bairns under X years get in free) and Senior Citizen's Day (I could be wrong, but I think these were 2 days of the same weekend, traditionally) were lighter sales days. Lots of booth traffic, and LOTS of explaining the product to both crowds, but fewer buyers. Then again, custom moccasins aren't your typical impulse item (unless you're ME, that is).
As far as your theory goes, I'd have to say that all the MDRF crowds are there to have a good time, regardless of the price they paid for their tickets. The only people I see NOT having a good time are the silly people who show up to Ren weddings in three-piece suits or nice dresses with heels.

Anne Frates:
Usually 2 different weekends, and the kids get in free days are the first weekend MD is opened: the last weekend in August. Can we say "hot, humid, and sparser crowds?" That's my take on it.

I agree. Although we budget for each weekend, on the really, really hot days all I want is something cold to drink and some shade (like the White Hart). I usually spend the money on the next cooler day, so the merchants don't really lose out.

Steve/Beth George:
In my travels the days that massive free tickets are handed out are on notoriously "low turnout days". And the free tickets are a management response to a historical low attendence problem.
It's an inexpensive "spike" to census and the inevitable money that follows (parking, lunch, drinks). Which may or may not be reflected in big ticket sales.

Richard Maritzer:
Absolutely -- here at RPFS. The worst weekends are heavy comp weekends between paydays.

Down here at Ringling and BARF, the main factor seems to be the weather. If it's too hot, the wallets stick to the pockets and never come out, unless it's for beer. On Sundays', sales don't usually start until 12:30. A half hour after the beer sales start.
Hoggetowne has no beer sales, and the sales start sooner than other venues. Go figger.

Yes, though I attribute the phenomena to a different cause. :) People who have experienced what Faire has to offer, and liked it, are more likely to pay full price. And more likely to play along, because they're more comfortable and familiar with it.
The converse of this, is that people who have not experienced Faire, will be more likely to try it out for the first time if they can do so less expensively. But they're not brain-damaged, just too busy trying to get their brains to soak it all up.
So I say: play with them, hold their hands, and teach them. Like with the meet and greet I do: majority of people are speechless, and don't know what to say, but it's worth it for the smile. BUT, some of these same people next time will say good morrow to you first! Every journey has to start with the first small steps.
I view it as *our* challenge: to actively bring them into the web of our Magic.
Example: Turn the clock back 4 years. Me: "here's a discount coupon for that Faire thing in the paper, want to go check it out, see what it's all about, it'll only cost us $x?" Roommate: "sure, what the heck, it might be interesting for an afternoon".
Hehehe. And that day, I was one of the speechless dumbfounded masses. Now *I* be greeting *them*. Wow.
And oh boy, oh dear, has that $x expanded exponentially.... ;)

I agree with John here. He has a point, the more the patrons are educated and entertained the more likely they'll be to shop and or participate. You have to keep in mind most folks have their own preconceived ideas about what a Renaissance Faire is.
I know when you pay 11.00 to park and 17.50 to get in it gets harder and harder to pull out your wallet to buy that 5.00 beer or that wonderful leather wallet. Even if it is 2 for 1.
But, I too was one of those *patrons*, who became a *playtron*. SOMEONE lemme join your local guild! LOL
Only, I chose to follow thru and now my weekend fun runs me upward of 300.00 or more! And that's just for the faire! Camping and so forth etc, etc, So, sometimes its nice to have some perks.
My only suggestion is like they do at Southern really interact with the patrons the more you do, the more likely they'll play back. Keeping fingers crossed......

> You have to keep in mind most folks have their own preconceived ideas about what a Renaissance Faire is.
Exactly. And I know that in my case Lady Kathleen, those notions weren't anywhere close to the reality of it. The RPFS advertising just never made the pitch successfully to me I suppose.
To quote those Rude Fools, Sean and Dave, before going for the 1st time it had always struck me just as "an overpriced old hippie swapmeet". :)
So the discount was important, in allowing us to feel more comfortable trying out the old hippies for that day. ;)
> My only suggestion is like they do at Southern really interact with the patrons the more you do, the more likely they'll play back.
It also occurs to me that word of mouth is hugely important too, and that's got to be another one of the benefits of playing with the patrons.

Huzzah! For me some of the most fun times I have had at faire have been when interacting with mundane patrons where I could tell that I had in some small or occasionally large manner had made their day more enjoyable.


A garb-buying customer posted:
In comparing the prices to other online places and a print catalog I've purchased from before, I notice a great range in the prices.
For example, one company has a basic chemise for $30, while the company I've used before is charging about twice that. With the second company, I could have gotten a complete outfit for what I paid for *just* my dress.
But my question is, is the product *that* much different in some way?
My garb isn't high class, so I don't need anything really fancy. But then I don't want it to fall apart in the first wash either. : )
I've noticed most of the at fair shops (at least where I've looked) tend towards the "frilly fru fru" type things, which usually look rennish, yet are way too modern for me. So I've ordered or made the stuff I wear. My main concern with purchasing something on the net is it's difficult to check feedback and you can't see the product in person. That's why I'm asking you kind folk for assistance.

Many factors can determine a price for a garment.
You also want make sure when looking at a site that you're looking at both the labor and fabric charge. A few sites will list the price of the garment in terms of labor but, the fabric is additional.
The variety of prices for historical clothing is determined by a number of things.
Anyone can go in to business and call themselves a costumer. There is no industry standard. You have folks sewing on their kitchen table on up to big retail outlets like Chivalry Sports with a store front.
For those doing this as a hobby you will often find cheaper prices. They don't have to support themselves full time so they tend to charge less. In some cases the novice sewing person starts up a company and seriously under prices simply because they don't take all the overhead in to consideration. If you're lucky to find an excellent seamstress who hasn't figured out pricing in the retail market yet then you can get very lucky! : )
Quality and pricing. There are companies who have very cheap items but, you have to be careful when comparing quality to price. As mentioned above some very high quality items can be under priced and some lower quality items can be overpriced. You find this in any retail merchandise.
What you really want is an experienced company or seamstress that you hear a lot of good feed back about. Word of mouth and repeat customers is a good indicator.
Pricing will also be determined by location. The Internet gives you access to companies world wide. The actual company will often base pricing on local pricing. I have noticed that in the case of CA and NY you will often see prices that reflect the location. People pay a lot more for goods in some areas. some examples of pricing.
The $30 chemise you mentioned. What kind of fabric has been used? Linen, cotton, muslin? The difference being $5.00, $2.00, or 99 cents (prices are for example and may vary) a yard. That makes a bit of difference if your paying for a nice weight linen chemise that will hold up to repeated washing or something like cheap muslin that wrinkles and it isn't as nice a fabric.
Construction technique.
Does the neck and wrists have elastic? Does the neck and wrists have a casing with a draw string with button holes to draw the cording through? One design is more practical and one design is more accurate for a period garment.
Is the chemise floor length or only mid knee? How much yardage is used? 4 yards, 6 yards?
Is the chemise made to your measurements or one size fits most?
Is the chemise hand made in this country or imported from Mexico?
Big difference in pricing in terms of labor for this country and what is paid to workers in a foreign country.
These are just some of the factors that will determine if your chemise is $30 or $60.
Now that is just a chemise. Imagine the complexities when you start talking about a custom made gown.
If you want a custom design your also looking at more labor in terms of the designer sketching your gown, sending you swatches, drafting the patterns, making a mock up, custom fittings, and then doing alterations if needed. Big difference between this and just ordering a Small, medium, or large off the rack dress in only the fabrics offered. A cotton gown off the rack and custom fitted gown in the fabric or your choice will never compare in pricing.
So to summarize I wouldn't speak negatively of any company based on pricing. People also have varying tastes and expectations from their garb just like in every day clothing. You have your Kmart quality and pricing and Nordstrom quality and pricing. Both are acceptable they appeal to different pocket books. You can't how ever most of the time expect to get Nordstrom quality with Kmart pricing. : )
I was merely offering some thoughts on pricing and shopping. Since we only sell garb at faire and not on line I feel like I can offer advice without prejudice since we don't compete with any garb makers on the NG. : 0)

A newcomer to the group in her quest for garb noticed that Round Two Costumes (my company) charges way less than others for similar items. The example of a long chemise was brought up, pointing out that I charge only $30, whereas so many other places charge much more.
Ronda of Dragonfly Design pointed out that all companies charge differently due to material costs, professional costs, and quality of product. Very True (I don't think I've ever disagreed with anything she's ever said!)
Let me point out, that at the top of each catalog page in my site, it is stated that the LISTED PRICES ARE FOR LABOR ONLY. Fabric and materials are not included in the listed price. This means that I am not cheaper than everyone else, nor am I trying to undercut anyone else. I charge what I feel is a fair price for my time and experience.
My clients either provide their own fabric, or pay me extra to find fabric for them. It will cost $30 for me to make a long chemise whether you send me 99 cents a yard muslin or $15 a yard silk dupioni.
One of the reasons I keep labor and materials separate is because when I was younger (read: didn't know how to sew), I would go through fabric stores and think: "such pretty fabrics--I wish I could have a costume made from this!" Well, now I am able to sew and help others with that same wish!

Compiled and Edited by Ann Neff