Art Beat 2015 Prep Issue #2

Hello all you fellow Michiana artists!

T-minus 15 days and counting and welcome to issue #2 of this years tips for a successful event. Co-authored by our very own Dennis Anderson, and myself, (Danielle Wilborn) this post will discuss various payment options, show etiquette, and a few other miscellaneous tips.

First of, you should have seen by now the e-mail blast sent out by Downtown South Bend, Inc last Friday. If not, you can find it here. If you did not receive it please make sure you have them added to your contacts so future notices don’t end up in spam. Make sure to scroll down and check that any special requests for a specific scene or electricity have been acknowledged. If you made a request and do not see it on the corresponding list please e-mail ASAP. The Art Beat staff has been working incredibly hard to make sure these requests can be honored but many artists have not paid the related fees.

While on the subject of money, we want to discuss several methods of accepting payments at art fairs. Regardless of payment method you should give receipts and use a calculator if you need to. This means you also need a pen and a sales pad of some sort. You can find them at any office supply store. Collecting tax is an important part of selling. Some artists add tax at the end and some artists “build it into the price”. Regardless of which you do make sure you are collecting the correct amount of sales tax. In Indiana that is 7%. Check with your local Small Business Development Center or an accountant to determine what is right for your business.

The first payment type up is good ol’ hard cash. Taking cash has it’s benefits, including instant gratification, but there are still a few tips to keep things running smoothly. Remember to have change on hand the day of the show. You want to have ones, fives, and tens on hand, possibly some twenties. If you have smaller pieces available, you’ll want to keep a roll or two of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters as well. Having all this change means you’ll need somewhere to keep it. You can find cash boxes at any number of stores, or you can use an apron, or even just a ziplock bag. Remember to keep your cash somewhere you can keep an eye on it, and be familiar with how to tell a counterfeit for larger bills.

The second most common type of payment you’ll probably see is card. There are several processing options for artists, all of which involve technology. Square, Intuit, and Paypal are three of the most common processors you’ll see. You can read a little comparison here. To be honest, if you haven’t chosen a card processing method with only two weeks out, you probably won’t receive a reader in time. Some of these methods allow for typing in the card information, but it might raise your transaction fees. Personally, I use Square and I love it. -DW You can set up your “register” ahead of time so you can just press a button and go, or you can enter in an amount manually. You can also track your cash sales, keep track of inventory, and process payments in “Offline Mode” This is key because you probably WILL NOT HAVE WIFI at your location. If you snag some WIFI it will probably be extremely slow. Another suggestion is to temporarily bump up your data plan with your cell phone carrier. Check with your carrier to see if this is an option. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about the chip card yet. The official change over is in October, but if you haven’t heard about it yet please read up on it. Another thing to think about – have a backup battery or device for processing cards. It’s tempting to chat on your phone but do everything you can that day to extend your battery life.

you probably WILL NOT HAVE WIFI

The third type of payment you’ll see is a check. Most check transactions will be fine but there are things you can do to protect yourself from issues. First off, don’t take starter checks.  Ask to see the buyers ID and match it with the check. It is common practice to write down the drivers license number and expiration on the check or receipt. Make sure you write their phone number on the receipt or make sure the one printed on the check is current. These bits of info can help you get a hold of the buyer if there are any issues. It pays here to be thorough. Write the check number on both copies of the receipt. Write the receipt number on the check. If you don’t have a business check stamp write “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY” on the back of the check immediately. That way if anyone takes it, the most they can do is deposit it for you or at worst destroy it – but since you’ve written down all the info on the receipt you can contact the buyer!

Show etiquette. Show etiquette is something you pick up as you go, but to put it succinctly, use common sense and don’t be a jerk. Following etiquette for set up time is especially important as it can make or break your day, along with that of your booth neighbors. Previously, Art Beat staggered arrival times for even/odd booths to help alleviate congestion. It is imperative you bring someone with you to help set up. Volunteers are not there to help you set up/ merchandize your booth. They have other things to do, like making sure the event is running smoothly. When you drive to your booth location, unload your vehicle as quickly as possible and then move it! Do your best to not block streets, alleys, or other artists’ booths. It’s not a good way to start the day. Do not start setting up with your car still near your booth. Really, I can’t stress this enough. Get your vehicle out of the way as soon as possible. There is no designated artist parking, but all available street and South Bend owned garage parking will be FREE the day of the event. Here’s a handy map of South Bend Parking.

Get your vehicle out of the way as soon as possible.

Some other small courtesy things to remember, make sure to stay inside your marked area, and generally don’t play music in your booth. Events are already loud enough and your neighbors will have to listen to your taste in music all day long. Imagine if they did that to you. Keep your trash under wraps. Be polite.

Customer service tips. It’s considered rude to be on your phone, nose deep in a book, or eating out in the open when you have customers. Another reason it’s so important to have someone else with you! You need to eat. You need to take bathroom breaks. You want to be able to see the other booths.

The last bit of advice for this post is to breathe, and remember that booth announcements are on their way. On the 19th at the latest.

This was a dry run of my Art Beat setup from 2012. Art Beat allows artists to set up their booth however they like. Larger shows often have more restrictions, like the tent must be white, and you have to use professional display panels. For this year, I added some tables clothes and a sign and was good to go.

Don’t forget that you can always check out The Artists of Michiana… Unleashed! on facebook to ask each other, or Dennis or myself questions or for encouragement. Throw up some images of your booth set up run though. We like to see them!

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