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The Great Food Truck Race


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#1 GEP

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:47 AM

Just wondering if anyone here likes this tv show as much as I do. I can really relate to it, because running a food truck is very similar to running a portable art festival booth. I think other festival veterans will relate too, and those of you curious about festival work can get a pretty clear idea of what it feels like. And that being a good chef is NOT all it takes to succeed. You have to be good at so many things, and there are many ways to fail. Every week, the team that makes the least money gets eliminated. It's harsh, given the circumstances they need to overcome. But this is the same level of reality that festival artists face.

The new season starts tonight on the Food Network (Sunday 8/18, 9pm on the east coast). I'm extra excited about it because one of their stops is Silver Spring, MD, my hometown! If anyone else is going to watch, I was thinking we could discuss the episodes here on the forum.

If you are not familiar with the show, here's its website:
http://www.foodnetwo...race/index.html
Mea Rhee
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#2 Denice

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:20 PM

I haven't seen this show but you reminded me that I went through a potters school bus once at a car show.  You entered at  the front doors and looked at the work on shelves and paid for your selection as you exited the back door.  At the back of the bus it was set up as a small living quarters, at hot plate and mattress, pretty good set up for a couple of kids. Maybe they can come up with a show call School Bus Wars.



#3 MikeFaul

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 12:36 PM

Well it might make a good platform for discussing marketing issues... From the few times I've watched it would seem most of the issues they face are marketing related: Product, Price, Promotion, People, Place, etc... And, it does seem like most folk have a marketing challenge. 

 

Another option might be to pick a good marketing book and read through it, and have chapter discussions. That might be a little more organized. 

 

Would this be for fun, or for a specific business purpose, or both?



#4 GEP

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:32 PM

 
Would this be for fun, or for a specific business purpose, or both?


Definitely both. Specifically it is about the challenges, both marketing and operational, of running a small portable business. But it will probably be fun to dish about the personalities that are exposed in the process. I guess it is geared towards those who are involved with art festivals, or thinking sbout trying it, or just curious to see what it's like.
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#5 TJR

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:48 PM

My favourite show is Swamp People. They hunt alligators in the Louisiana bayoo for money. The bigger the alligator,the more money.

Off topic, I know, but,what the hey.

TJR.



#6 MikeFaul

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 05:39 AM

 

 
Would this be for fun, or for a specific business purpose, or both?


Definitely both. Specifically it is about the challenges, both marketing and operational, of running a small portable business. But it will probably be fun to dish about the personalities that are exposed in the process. I guess it is geared towards those who are involved with art festivals, or thinking sbout trying it, or just curious to see what it's like.

 

I think it airs on Sundays... I'll add it to my DVR...



#7 JLowes

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 09:18 AM

Hi Mea,

 

It's a personal favorite.  I like and watch it because, besides pottery, cooking is a great passion. 

 

The situations always seem so created, that I never really identified it as related to my art fair activities. But I suppose upon relfection, that I should note the portable business situations more too.  I show 5 to 6 times a year now, but will be adding to that in the foreseeable future as I transition from part time potter to full time.

 

John 



#8 neilestrick

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:26 AM

http://www.art-stream.com/


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#9 GEP

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:00 AM

http://www.art-stream.com/


Wow I would go out of my way to see that. What a badass idea!
Mea Rhee
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#10 GEP

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:31 AM

 
The situations always seem so created, that I never really identified it as related to my art fair activities. But I suppose upon relfection, that I should note the portable business situations more too. 


I agree sometimes the challenges are kind of far-fetched, like forcing a bbq truck to sell vegetarian food, which wouldn't happen in the real world. But many of the situations are highly applicable. This first episode was about the importance of choosing venues and price points that "fit" your work. The first challenge was to park the truck in Beverly Hills and sell a plate of food for $20 or more. The upscale parameters did not fit most of the trucks. Then they moved to San Francisco where the Philly guys said "now we get to charge the right price for our cheesesteaks ... $7." And they ended up winning. Although the team that fared best in Beverly Hills did well too, they came in second.

But ultimately, the team that lost had issues that were far more basic than venues and pricing. They couldn't light the stove in their truck. I think this basic issue applies to art festivals too. If you are mechanically clutzy you really can't do it.
Mea Rhee
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#11 JLowes

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:48 PM

Burner won't light because the gas is off....hmmm.  Didn't think to see if there was a valve.  Pretty bone headed; like when I was taking a shortcut back to the art fair vendor parking across a railroad track and the train came and slipped/fell down the slope getting off the tracks.

 

I wonder what my pots would sell for in Beverly Hills....

 

John



#12 GEP

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 08:47 AM

For those who are still following this show, for me it has now become much more compelling. All of the obviously weak teams have been eliminated, and now it is a contest of good vs. excellent. It's hard to watch any of them lose. It's interesting that some of the businesses are getting stronger, while others are getting frazzled by the stress. I thought this weekend's episode contained more appropriate metaphors for festival artists. They were in a small town with only one small area with good foot traffic. That area could only fit two trucks. The two teams that figured this out the fastest reaped the rewards, while the others had to work the fringes. 

 

At a good quality art festival, the organizers will make sure every booth location has good traffic flow. But there are definitely shows that don't do a good job of this. Some booth locations are on the fringes and get much less foot traffic, and it is a raw deal. You generally don't get to choose your booth location. With some shows you can request, but it's not up to you. It's also bad when you sense that a show is giving the best spaces to people they know. This is one reason why it's important to scope out a show before applying, and to avoid shows where you feel this could be a problem. Overall, this issue is extremely important. 

 

My favorite show layout is when the entire show runs along one street. The booths line both sides of the street, with a walking lane down the middle. Nobody gets a disadvantageous spot. 

 

It's also worth noting that the two teams at the bottom ran out of food. They knew exactly how many plates they needed to sell, but did not plan accordingly. This is something that took me a long time to figure out, how much inventory to make and pack for one-day, two-day, and three-day shows. If you run out of pots, it might seem neat to be "sold out" but the truth is you screwed yourself out of additional sales. But if you pack too much, you make the process more unwieldy than it needs to be, and you waste a lot of energy.

 

My money's on the Hawaiian truck. 


Mea Rhee
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#13 JLowes

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:41 AM

I am keeping up and with your advice watching for clues to help my art festival activities.  I agree on the Hawaiian truck too, but fortunes can turn suddenly.

 

 

I have been in the middle of the one street festivals for all except two shows. At one show I was on a side street next to the portable restrooms and across from the kid's play area...definitely not the best location.  It soured my wife on this show forever, so we don't go back there; even to look.  At my last show this year I was at an end of a one street, lined both side show. This particular show I was expecting to do exceptionally well, it was close to my home, had the right demographics for me, etc.  The stars were aligned, I thought.  Then came the show.  Being at the end I saw the people come in, take a look, and move on way more than in the middle where they linger, and frequently buy, in my booth.  On the flip side, I also got to see the already laden crowds not even stop to look as they made there way past my booth and on to their cars.  Very disconcerting.  I guess your metaphor of working the fringes fits here.  Although there was great traffic at the show (25-30,000 was the guess for 2 days), being the first or last part of the show turned a great opportunity into a break even affair for me.

 

This particular promoter has three other shows that i will be in.  I have asked to be located in the middle areas again, and hopefully that will lessen a repeat.  And, boy, do I relate to those on the fringes.

 

John



#14 Bob Coyle

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:26 AM

Here in Santa Fe we have a roving art show that is doing OK

 

http://axleart.com/index/Home.html



#15 oldlady

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 10:55 AM

one show i attend has wonderful traffic but the surface is grass and i always seem to get put in a space that has a hole, actually a low spot about three feet across and six inches deep.  makes setup difficult.  asking them to straighten it out before next year has not worked yet.  maybe this year.  ever-hopeful seems to be a potter's attitude.


"putting you down does not raise me up."

#16 GEP

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 10:14 AM

The grand finale is tomorrow. And the secret to the Hawaiian truck's success during the middle weeks was revealed ... every time they pulled into a new town, they reached out to the local Hawaiian/Polynesian community and asked for support, and their audience came running. However this strategy was not as effective when they reached the bigger cities of Minneapolis and Chicago. A small captive audience is not a big advantage in a city, because the pool of potential customers is so big. 

 

These are more good analogies to running an art festival booth. If you have a captive audience, use it! It's called a mailing list. I spend a lot of effort collecting and using a mailing list. I send out an announcement for every show. It is more important at shows in less-populated areas. I was at such a show this past weekend. All weekend long, people who I didn't recognize said "Hi, I'm on your mailing list!" My sales were terrific. The value of the mailing list multiplies over time, combined with sticking with successful shows year after year. Just by letting your previous customers know you'll be back really works.

 

But even though I really like the show I just did, I prefer city shows over rural shows, because of the bigger pool of customers. City shows are typically more expensive and more stressful, but worth it for me. And again, if you stick with successful shows over years, the mailing list becomes a real factor even at an urban show. It generates lots of repeat sales. 

 

So those are some of my strategies, what are yours? Do you use a mailing list, and how? Do you prefer city shows or rural shows, and why?

 

(At some point in the finale tomorrow, they are going to be in my neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. I saw it on facebook earlier this summer. Curiously, it was not advertised in advance, only afterwards. I think they didn't want hoards of people turning out just to get on TV, so the trucks would have to attract customers themselves. I also know one of the trucks that makes it there, but I won't reveal it. Not sure how they're going to get there, or why they chose Silver Spring, but I'm curious to find out.)


Mea Rhee
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