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

After reading several of the postings on this site, it seems that MANY offer customers to purchase by credit card. I can't yet afford the investment in the monthly fee and card machine because this is my first time, but will customers be turned away by cash only? There's an ATM literally just across the street.

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Angela,
I have been accepting checks for 30+ years. And there were only TWO I couldn't collect on.

You have got to relax!

Chris in VT
I do not see how you cannot take credit cards. Most sales are by credit card and if you have the right service it is not expensive. I recently started with 1st National Processing, the fees are among the lowest I have seen so far. I do not use a credit card terminal, I just use my phone. Works well and has not failed me yet.
We do about 6-8 shows per year, do some portrait shoots and a couple of events, and we use ProPay for our credit cards. There is a yearly fee and a transaction fee along with a 3-3.5% charge, but there is no minimum activity threshold or monthly fee. They have just recently introduced a swipe machine that allows to swipe the card and process the transaction later. We have invested in a netbook from a cell company which will allow us to actually process the transaction online as long we have cell service...I am anxious to see how that will work.
Ellen, definitely let us know how the swipe card and netbook combination works out for you!

Ellen Empson said:
We do about 6-8 shows per year, do some portrait shoots and a couple of events, and we use ProPay for our credit cards. There is a yearly fee and a transaction fee along with a 3-3.5% charge, but there is no minimum activity threshold or monthly fee. They have just recently introduced a swipe machine that allows to swipe the card and process the transaction later. We have invested in a netbook from a cell company which will allow us to actually process the transaction online as long we have cell service...I am anxious to see how that will work.
We take credit cards and so far (the only really only have about a year and a half we have to go on, and only about 10 shows at that) we are selling about 43% on credit cards as opposed to cash. I love the look on a buyer's face when they ask if we take credit cards and we say yes. I know a large percentage of those would not buy if we couldn't take cards. We started off with the swipe and netbook from propay and it worked okay. The only problem with it is that the network connection drops off after a time and so, you end up having to do the whole log-in process over and over again. That takes time and I don't like having a person standing there waiting. We switched over to a 1st National account with a store and forward unit and I have to tell you, so far, we love it.

Angela R. Sasser said:
Ellen, definitely let us know how the swipe card and netbook combination works out for you!

Ellen Empson said:
We do about 6-8 shows per year, do some portrait shoots and a couple of events, and we use ProPay for our credit cards. There is a yearly fee and a transaction fee along with a 3-3.5% charge, but there is no minimum activity threshold or monthly fee. They have just recently introduced a swipe machine that allows to swipe the card and process the transaction later. We have invested in a netbook from a cell company which will allow us to actually process the transaction online as long we have cell service...I am anxious to see how that will work.
I would be out of business if I couldn't take charges. The way I see it, you can't afford "not" to take credit cards. If you make just one decent sale at a show that you would not have made because you take cash only, it will be economically worth it. Also, there is the security issue. I feel safe and secure running a charge at your booth, knowing the money is going right into my account, at the time of the sale. I have taken a number of checks that I deposit when I get home only to find that the account had insufficient funds, or worse yet, the account was closed and I got burned on a sale. If you use a cash box or envelope to store your cash and checks, it can be easily stolen. It happened to the person across from me at a show last September. In my opinion, this is a necessary expense, a no-brainer.
I have just started toaking credit cards, this past weekend as a matter of fact. I searched through these boards and others in an attempt to find the best merchant service for my needs. It can get very confusing, overwhelming even. After gathering what felt like too much information, I ultimately had to take the plunge. Went with http://www.bancardpayment.com/ and found them excellent in every way. In fact, while lugging our equipment in late Sunday night after driving an hour back from the show site, my phone rang. I groaned... until I picked it up and found my Bancard guy on the other end, checking up to make sure we had a good show and no problems with the equipment!! I found this absolutely astounding.... although I shouldn't have, after all the help and great sercice I had been experiencing with them already. Rates are good, service good, people totally helpful, I can't say enough good about them. Ask for Marcello, soon to be your new best friend!
I did it weekend before last. Lady came into the booth, she lived in the neighborhood of the venue, she left her home with no intention of buying, stopped in my booth and decided she couldn't live without one of my pendants but she hadn't brought any form of payment. I packed it up and told her she could send me a check or call with her credit card info. She called about a half hour later. I think she decided to buy it because I told her she could take it with her and I'd
trust her for payment.
Connie Mettler said:
I am going to reiterate -- there are two merchant services out there who bend over backwards to make the credit card process work for artists. In this business, as in most others, customer service is most important. These two companies are Teamac run by Guy MacDonald and 1nbCard.com, Mike DiGiovanni. If you polled the artists on this site I'd bet that 80% have their business with one of these two companies.

Another idea -- if by chance you don't want to do credit cards -- my friend Sonny Dalton, a fabulously successful sculptor (prices $75 to $7500) never took a credit card, but he would take IOU's! Over 30 years I think he only got stiffed once. He'd just say, "take it home and send me a check on Monday." Anyone up for Sonny's ploy?
I am using Merhcant Warehouse and their Blackberry app as well, starting in June.

Angela R. Sasser said:
I've been researching this topic myself recently, as I'm still prepping for my first fair, with this dilemma being my main one. I'm pretty sure I will need to take credit cards to make art fairs even worth it. With booth fees being in the hundreds, it's not worth it to sell little cheap things unless you're sure you can sell a butt load of those little things to recoop costs. Seems like it's more effective to think big.

My research so far has led me to the conclusion that most artists use Propay for its low yearly fees, though there are lots of incidental fees included that might make it a pain if you have issues imo. Another service I've been recommended to is Merchant Warehouse, who will let you waive a monthly fee if you aren't doing a show and who seem relatively low cost.

I'm personally going to start off using an Iphone and Merchant Warehouse's cell phone processing app till I can afford one of the wireless terminals.
I too let my customers take the work ,and send a check; if neither cash or check is in hand; We have not taken cards for the past 15t years & never gotten burned/knock knock/30t years of glass/ We do have the customer give us all info // plus signing & dating a simple sentence that says" I owe Bill $400 for one piece of glass" // A legal contract// seems many artists use this advanced business model called TRUST//really impresses the customer// I can't see that taking cards would increase business as the sale and price have usually been completed before we even speak of payment//I can see the card as a advantage in other media such as jewelry. And You wanted to know where all the old artists have gone?? We are all still here doing what we love/ and proud doing the best of creating ; as we always have. We see the big picture, and realize there is more than just being the best artist that you can be. Happy Birthday; and thanks for your big picture additions. Fair Winds,,Bill
Connie Mettler said:
I am going to reiterate -- there are two merchant services out there who bend over backwards to make the credit card process work for artists. In this business, as in most others, customer service is most important. These two companies are Teamac run by Guy MacDonald and 1nbCard.com, Mike DiGiovanni. If you polled the artists on this site I'd bet that 80% have their business with one of these two companies.

Another idea -- if by chance you don't want to do credit cards -- my friend Sonny Dalton, a fabulously successful sculptor (prices $75 to $7500) never took a credit card, but he would take IOU's! Over 30 years I think he only got stiffed once. He'd just say, "take it home and send me a check on Monday." Anyone up for Sonny's ploy?
Found majority of sales by customers using Credit Cards. Watch out for cash sales! THey just put a warning out here in Hampton Roads, VA of counterfeit bills being circulated. So credit cards are most welcome. : ) Set it up asap. Your sales will be so much better.
Yikes.....going to go look at the cash I made yesterday at the 5th Annual Chic's Beach Show.........thanks for the warning Pauline!

Pauline Ross said:
Found majority of sales by customers using Credit Cards. Watch out for cash sales! THey just put a warning out here in Hampton Roads, VA of counterfeit bills being circulated. So credit cards are most welcome. : ) Set it up asap. Your sales will be so much better.

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