Distance will travel.

3.5 hours from home

In the 12+ years of vending at events, I have been asked to attend some events because of my “unique” items.  Most, I have politely declined for some reasons.  And, in giving some thought to the distance and area I will travel for events, I have a rather large area from home that I will travel.  Most of this are covers a lot of the larger metropolitan areas within a 3.5 hour drive.

  • Louisville, Lexington and most of Kentucky
  • Nashville, TN and a fair portion of Tennessee.
  • Indianapolis, IN and most of Southern Indiana.
  • Columbus, Cincinnati, OH and a good portion of Ohio

Most of the time I have a few criteria that covers most of my acceptance into events:

  • How long has the event been around for?
    • first or 50th event?
    • first year or 10th year?
    • don’t be discouraged, I have done very well at some events where this was their third year, and poorly at some events where this was their 25th year.
  • How many people typically walk in and pay for the event?  100 or 1000 (or 10,000)?
    • I will ask for real numbers from your prior events of that time of year, not estimates, number of staff, or volunteers.
      • I have been to one event where there was more security and staff than people walking through the door.
      • Most of the vendors at that event were in their booth just looking at each other during the entire event.
      • We also spent time looking at the door, and looking at our watches.
      • I started packing up early and was out of there by a little after 5 (end of the event).  I don’t typically do this.  I think in the 12+ years, I did this twice and one was weather-related.  The other time, we had five possible customers come through the door in six hours.
    • Other events, the food vendors had more people walking to their concession stand more than we had people visiting our booths.
      • These are the events I tend to avoid,
      • if I am already there, will not return.
  • Are these one or two day events?
    • Two-day events, I prefer.  I can set up, settle in and get comfortable.
  • Is the event indoors or outdoors?
    • I have a preference to indoor events.  It keeps my equipment from looking like I had camped in it.  (moisture, dust and more)
    • If outdoors and in the sun, I will set up my 10×20 and set up another two canopies behind that one.  I will use my 10×20 to make a shop and sitting space out of the sun.
    • I will also park my trailer behind the 10×20 and will typically take up a 20×20 space with the trailer, canopy and camping area
    • I will camp with my space
      • non-debatable.  This keeps my stuff secure, allows me to watch over my space at night and keeps fast fingers away (mostly packs of bored and under-supervised children at events)
      • if the weather turns bad, I can easily get to my canopy at night to make sure I am secure
        • I secure my canopies if I need it or not
        • All it takes is the right gust of wind and I lose a canopy, or two
        • Please, secure your canopies, your neighbor will thank you
        • True story… I was at an outdoor event outside of town and headed home to sleep (no camping allowed).  I had ratcheted down my canopy and closed it down for the night, made sure I had double-staked it and dropped it down a notch or two.  That night, we had tornado warnings, high winds, rain and other problems (woke up to thunder and a weather alert).  The next day, I got to the site just at the time I got a message on my phone that said they were canceling Sunday due to bad weather.  I got to my booth, not knowing what to expect, and everything was still there… with a little water, but otherwise intact.  My neighbors, were not so lucky.  Several canopies were broken due to water weighing them down.  One was blown over and twisted into a pretzel, I had two of her canopy weights under my canopy (she did not stake down) and her stained glass scattered across the field with two of her tables up-ended and scattered.  My self-insurance paid off, but I also got lucky that I was not damaged.
  • Is the event easily reachable?
    • Can I drive there within 3 hours on highway without a lot of back-road travel? (I frequently have a trailer and driving in the country may not be possible).
      • True story… I attended an event as a participant back in the “hollers” of East Kentucky.  Had I brought my trailer, I would probably still be stuck on that road today.
  • Does the event let out early enough so I can get home in time to unpack, get to sleep and wake up for work without dragging the next day?
    • closing at 7, 2 hours to pack, 3 hours to travel, 1 hour to unpack and hopping a time zone gets me home pretty late
    • closing at 5 gives me more time to get home at a reasonable hour under the same circumstances
  • Can I come in and set up the evening before?
    • Usually, Saturday and Sunday events allows for setting up the evening before.  Even if it is an hour to unload my trailer, I can spend more time setting up for the next day.

And, a few more things I consider, and I will usually consider your event.  If I decline, there is usually a reason why.  Most have been the following:

  • I have a prior commitment
    • I may have an event already scheduled.
    • I don’t double-book for events as it is rude to “find something better” to do.  There is no integrity in that.
  • You are too far – while I do travel about 3 hours to events, I am not able to travel an additional 3 hours for your event.
    • Pittsburgh is still a 6 hour drive for me even though Columbus, OH is three hours from there.
    • I also get 12 MPG while carting my trailer on the interstate
      • One event a few years ago was just over four hours away, I did great at this venue.  In traveling, I filled up three times and got home past midnight.  When the financial smoke cleared, I may have made about $40-50 for the weekend.  Not bad and better than a loss, but it didn’t allow me a chance to restock the items I had sold.
  • I have lots of things to cart in, is the facility easy for vendors?
    • A lot of my equipment is heavy and cumbersome and will take multiple trips.
    • Stairs don’t work too well for me and a facility with one elevator, a long walk from the parking lot, to the door, then down a long hallway, up two steps and take the elevator to the 3rd floor (true story about a hotel’s convention center) doesn’t support vendors or our customers if they have to hunt for us.
    • Will the venue’s parking lot support a truck with a trailer?  A parking garage at an event typically does not have a pull-through for a trailer and my truck with trailer takes up 4-5 parking spaces and is frequently not allowed in parking garages, or public parking facilities.
      • I also had an event at a venue that was adamant about my trailer not being in their parking lot and threatened to tow me.  Once I unloaded, I was asked to park about 3/4 of a mile from the facility on the “back 40” where no one visited.  This presented a security problem, not only for me, but for my vehicle.
  • Is the event outdoors and is it in the summer? (average temperature that time of year at that location is 85+ degrees)
    • If the answer to both are “yes”, I will decline.
      • I had an event with a medical scare.  In mid-June, we had an event where we set up our canopy and unpacked.  The event was good, but the time after the event was bad.  My husband returned to work the next day and was shaky.  We checked him into the hospital and he had very elevated high blood pressure at unhealthy levels, and was kept overnight for observation and sent home with a prescription.  We did everything right, but being in an open field, no shade outside of the canopy, in 90+ degree heat for two days, there’s going to be something that breaks.  Unfortunately, it was him.
    • I have made the “executive decision” to stop all of my summer outdoor events as of 2018 for the reasons above.
    • Outdoor events tend to have issues with weather.  What if we are rained out?
  • Will the room be locked up at night?
    • One event I went to as a participant was near the food court at a mall.  While there were security, I could not realistically, with confidence leave my products overnight.

Otherwise, I look forward to your events.  If you are looking to find out when and when I am going to be, I am already starting to fill up my 2018/2019 event calendar.

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