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I am getting tossed out of my great-paying job at the end of September, looking around for something to do that will be a bit more flexible and yet pay the bills. One of several business ideas I have is to buy and operate a concession trailer at regional events. I'd be working most weekends spring through fall but have the weekdays to be on the farm.

I have a couple of hot sandwiches I could offer and then there would be hot dogs/brauts, potato chips and soft drinks. Used trailers seem to come up pretty often, so the investment could be under $5,000 to get in, plus my supplies, licensing, and vendor fees.

I wondered if anyone here has ever done this, how you found it to be as a business proposition, and whether or not it actually was profitable for you?

If you don't want to share your experiences publicly, please PM me. Like I say, it is one of several business ideas I have. Thanks!
 

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Never done it, but from the observer's side, the concession stand that is the busiest at any particular event is always the one that is selling something nobody else is.

Of course, I got no clue what those awesome (insert whatever unique food idea you've seen here) cost to produce, but they sure are selling a lot of them :p

One example in the DFW area is a fried spiral sliced potato. They spiral slice a whole russet baking potato, and dump the whole thing in the fryer, then sell it as a single serving. I never see more than one of these at an event (irish fest, octoberfest, music festival, whever it is) and they are always busy.
 

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We have a portable Gemstone Mining Sluice that we take to " local small fairs " as we just can't see paying over $ 1000. to be in a fair, as we would have to charge too high a price for our mining rough to make it profitable .
We have made friends with several food concessioners ( We take care of there grandkids , and they take care of us ) They have several different trailers at a event , , sausage , fries and rings , a burgers trailer and a tent they sell chicken dinners from at some large fairs . we found this out as there supply trailer was parked right behind us .
I don't know what they make , but 5 yrs . ago they had a old used Ryder 28 ft. box truck , I haven't seen them this year , but last summer they had a New Ford F-650 , and 24 ? Ft. trailer behind there New Ford F-350 Dually .
Bob
I know at the Fryburg fair in Maine , Our favorite pizza vendor lives on a farm/Commune and survives all year by doing fairs in the fall here in New England .
 

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I know someone who runs one.

They make great money, but really put in the hours (they don't want to mess with employees).

One issue that is no surprise, is that often available space is limited, for new vendors (some use the same spots for 30 years) and at many events, politics and cronyism, might decide if and where, you get to set up your concession. Some event wants a piece of the action, in addition to the license fee.

I'd start working on that aspect first.
 

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Tep done it still have left over equipment.Traded it for a back hoe. I got the best of the trade. You can make money. I sold snow cones, lemonade, funnel cakes and Ice cream. The cost of traveling, supplies, vendor fees and health permits are factors to consider.If you have a fixed place to park your stand you can open several days a week and come out just about the same money wise if you have a good location. Just my .02 good fortune with your venture.
 

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Several years ago I used to run 3 concession trailers, good part time business. It takes some time to find out where it is most profitable unless you can make good friends with an experienced vendor. Fairs and festivals is where the money is at,sometimes can hook up with ride vendor and follow their route. Lots of hard work on weekends,but worth it. Only bad part is that you have a good amount of money tied up in security deposit fees for your vendor space. Have to watch though,some of these small town festival committees have decided to share in the wealth and are charging larger fees to rent space. You have to decide if it's worth it. And after you get past all that, its depends on the weather during the festival.
 

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Look into rendezvous with Black Powder enthusiasts...turkey shoots, flea markets, local carnivals, new car dealership openings, tractor pulls,meet with athletic director at your local schools...some events such as cross country meets are in the autumn, and there's usually no refreshment to be had...it's especially nice to be able to get some bottled water at those and they are afternoons during the week (usually)...might fit right into your schedule. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
 
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If your property has the space , build a polebarn with a wood fired bread oven.
Sell products from the oven and other foods, rent tables to vender's. Craft/grow some of your own products to sell also. Wood outdoor furniture is a good way to go, low tech, cheap materials, Broad marketability (why did I capitalize Broad?)
Polebarn with the smell of good food and unique stuff to buy.
jim
 

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We have a friend who has a 2 trailers. They both sell funnel cakes, lemonade, and shaved ice. He really does the business - but their funnel cakes are full and doughy - where as most competitors are small, greasy things.

Be forewarned of the hours though!! They go to the local fairs and that's a set up Sunday - and then work Monday - Saturday from usually 9:00 A.M. - 11:00 P.M. Many of the stands go to the local fairs - and since most fairs are now - August - many of the full time stands work Monday - Saturday, leave the old spot find the next fair and do it again, and again, and again.

Alot also depends on WHERE you are put, how many other stands there are, how many other stands there are selling the SAME thing as you and if you have the better tasting / better looking product.

LONG hours, and HOT hours.
 

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Another venue is Dog shows. There is sometimes a food vendor there, sometimes not. If you had decent food you are packed. Coffee in the AM, good coffee!!! of course this is around 6:30. And would go until about 4 or 5. Usually Thursday through Sunday.
We thought about doing it, just selling good Hot dogs with great chile in the fall and spring. In the summers salads and grilled kabsa (sp) with toppings, and great buns.
You can check out where these are taking place on Home Page, InfoDog -  The Dog Fancier's Complete Resource for information  AKC Dog Show Events, and Dog Products and Services and follow to Show Calender. Not all are outside so you hav eto contact show secretary, but you can make good $$.
Alice in Virginia
 
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They make great money, but really put in the hours (they don't want to mess with employees).
I would second that. Don't have employees. Put in the hours. If you want to make money, do the work. Best way to lose money is to hire other people. Nobody else will work as cheaply or take as much abuse as you will.

This sort of work is going to have a certain amount of seasonality to it in all likelihood. One more reason not to have employees.
 

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We are tossing around spending the winter in Fl. or Tn. and coming back to New England running the sluice at campgrounds and at the fall fairs .
I have a friend on here that thinks We could probably do very good in His area of Fl. with it ( Hi Mack ) , but I am not sure I want to tow it that far , it is on a new 18 Ft. cam-superline full diamond plate car trailer so no worries with the trailer making it out and back .
 

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When I was stationed in Alaska I was talking to a guy that had a cart where he cooked Cheeseburgers/hamburgers and various sausages and hotdogs and sold chips, pop and water along with. He had a permit from the city to park his cart close to where the state and other businesses had large office buildings and he really made good money..as in six figures spend the winter in Mexico type money. He also catered to the tourist trade with some local game meat sausages and it was just he and his wife running the thing. You could smell everything cooking for a couple blocks and his cheeseburgers were the best I have had.

I have always wanted to do a taco truck like you find in Mexico or a felafel cart (I ate the heck out of them when I was stationed in Israel). Good luck and sorry about your job.
 

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My family and I are food vendors,we have done it for about 5 years now.We are only seasonal at this time,but eventually we plan on full time.I have 2 good friends that have done it for close to 25 years.One guy does two shows a year that`s it!These shows have HUGE attendance.My other friend is REALLY big time.Bonnaroo,Wanee(and more Suwanee Music Park shows),Floyd Fest,Telluride are just some of the mega shows they do.They have custom tents that they use(the REALLY big outfits don`t usually use trailers).They are renting three spaces at a time nowdays.Although they both started out with trailers,they both now have these tent`s.Also they BOTH have employees.The friend doing bonnaroo and other music fests has about four working besides the two owners and a girl usually only running the register.Rental fees for larger fests can be up to $1500 not to mention for newbies you get put on a waiting list sometimes years long.Most festivals also require a million dollar insurance policy.Health inspections are easier in the trailers.(most everything is easier in a trailer).The reason most of the huge vendors don`t like trailers is that you are usually confined to a a 10x 10 space,although it`s usually is about 12 in reality.So you`ll have to pay two space fees with some trailers.They also say that you`ll make more out of a tent.Something about being on the same level as your customer.
For me and my business we have a two tents.Four people usually running it.People are right when they say hard work,the hardest work I`ve ever done.Long hours and it`s usually hot.But I love it and like i said we want to go full time.They thing about doing shows in florida or farther south in the winter is the licensing.It was hard trying to find out what you need they don`t make it easy and a lot of vendors don`t like to share the knowledge.It can be done across state lines but to start out it`s pretty costly.
I see you are in Tennessee like me,as long as you don`t come to my turf you can ask me anything you want!!...HAHA..I`m just kidding.
My best advice is to order off the net this book..I believe it`s the only one written on the business.

GOOD LUCK!!

Food Booth~The Entrepreneurs Complete Guide to the food Concession Business
Barb Fitzgerald
 

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My husband often says he would love to do this. Every time we leave Home Depot and walk by the hot dog stand some fellow has set up, I hear a sigh.

He doesnt' even need to talk about it anymore....just that sigh.

Maybe one day.

We know someone who goes to the markets in and around Vancouver. He sells a specialty product (food) and he does incredibly well.
 
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