Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

This last weekend another artist had his stash disappear at an art fair, see the story here.

I ask you, where do you put the cash from your sales? Yes, I know cash is not as popular a medium of exchange as it used to be, but it still appears now and then. Also, do you treat it the same as a check or credit card receipt? And, if using a digital capture of sales even if you may have those receipts stolen the money is in the bank already, right?


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I've taken to wearing cargo pants when I'm working a show, especially outdoors.  Mine have buttoned pockets on the leg, and I slip my large bills in them throughout the day.   At the end, I sometimes struggle to get the cash out because they button pretty tightly.    I only keep enough cash to make change in my cash box.  If it's a large show and my husband or kids are with me, we split the cash up, too. 


I also zip-tie my cash box to part of my display.  Even though it's tucked under a shelf, someone can come from behind and grab it if they're determined enough.   I figure the worst they'll be able to do is spill it when they discover they're attached to half my booth and drop the box.  When we're packing up, the only money left in the cash box is coins.  

Ditto on the cargo pants and shorts

Cargo pants, too.

I used the pants method for a bit, but I felt like I might lose money going in and out. Twice I was lucky to notice that I dropped a bill... seemed like something that would eventually catch up to me!

On me, at all times, in a leather fanny pack. Cash, checks, charge receipts, all go in there. It is never taken off even for a second, from the time I leave home (or hotel), til the time I am back, with the door locked. I even carry safety pins in case the buckle breaks. I made colored cardboard dividers to separate 1's, 5's, and 10's, to make change. Big bills go in the back zipper section, where I carry my personal (very small) wallet. Charge receipts and checks go in the front zipper section, which is where I get the most "action ".  The only thing not in the fanny pack, are coins, which are in  small plastic box. Even if I am trying to look nice, I still wear it. I would be very nervous if it were not on me.
Cargo Pants. They have 6 big pockets. I keep a couple glossy post cards in my pocket between the cash and my leg so the bills don't get sweaty. I can always count on someone representing a local business forcing their card on me at the beginning of each show.
I also wear cargo pants and learned from another poster on this site to round down to the nearest dollar so I don't have to mess with coins.  I don't mind the little it costs me for the ease of not messing with coins.  I also keep my iPhone and square in one of the pockets and that way don't have to worry about them either.

Since I do volume, I use a cash register.

 I have never had any money or checks stolen in all the years I've been doing shows. Maybe that's because over in the crafts business, we're not all competitors, but rather friends who watch each other's booth. Many of us have the same brand of register so the same key fits all of them. So when our neighbor is away from his/her booth, another exhibitor can go make the sale and ring it up.

Now maybe it's also a different mindset where we all do shows. Is theft a problem where you do shows? Are there incidents where somebody has had their cash taken while doing a show?

If that's the case, I'm safer with a register than with a box. If somebody takes a cashbox, they can hide it in a shopping bag. But try walking down the aisle with a cash register. Somebody's gonna notice!

I keep it on my body also. Pockets usually - I do not take much cash at all and very few checks. Mostly credit cards. But also please be careful with your phones - especially if you use it for credit card processing. I had mine stolen at a show two summers ago. Somehow someone managed to get behind my counter (trampling cords and squeezing themselves in and out - no idea how!) and took it. I forgot to remind my booth assistant to keep it in her pocket before I left for a break. I never set it down - ever. It is always in my pocket when it is not in my hand processing.
Kristin, if your phone is stolen (assuming here you are using it for processing) is this anything more than a great inconvenience?
Hi Connie. Luckily (in a way) they were polite enough to wait until the last day and there were only a few hours left in the show. I lost only one sale because others were willing to use cash or check. I was too freaked out to remember that I could just do a rubbing of their card and process it later. My phone has a password to get into it and my credit card ap has a password to get to that. The iPhone does not store the credit card data so there are no issues or threats to customers whose cards I'd processed. I had all of my passwords to my merchant account, bank accounts etc. changed right away to be safe.
I have a collection of little zippered purses on long straps, the kind you get at those fair-trade fairs. They are small enough to be unobtrusive and I have different colors to blend with my clothing. I wear one at all times, and if I have more than one layer of clothing on, the strap is under the top layers. I don't deal in much cash, but whatever I have is in there, along with all my receipts and credit slips. If my clothing doesn't have pockets that day, my iPhone goes in the purse too.


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