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The Balloon Man -- Is It Time For A Career Change?

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#1 bciskepottery


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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:28 PM

Just finished a weekend craft fair; very good sales on Saturday, pretty good on Sunday considering the weather was on/off light rain for the morning and early afternoon. During a lull in the action on Sunday afternoon, I stepped outside the canopy and struck up a conversation with the basket makers next to me. I pointed out that it was a good sign that there was a long line at the Balloon Man -- lots of kids with parents in a queue to get a free balloon hat, sword, princess, dog, whatever. The basketry man asked if I'd like to guess what the Balloon Man was paid for the weekend. I half-heartedly ventured $500/day and, considering he had to put up with kids all day long (and Saturday he was truly busy all day long), he -- like most elementary school teachers -- was likely underpaid. Well, my guess was close -- the Balloon Man was paid $900 by the fair to tie balloons, 8 hours a day, Saturday and Sunday. The fair provided him with a canopy, balloons, and air pump. The Balloon Man furnished his own Tip Jar that the parents were generously filling. The Balloon Man looked to be in mid to late 20's, Mohawk haircut, team jersey with his first name on the back, knee-high green socks, red sneakers, etc. The Basketry man said next year, he was applying to be the Balloon Man -- it sure beat making baskets, toting a canopy, shelves, tables, etc. Tempting as it may seem -- who could turn down $56/hour to make balloon animals -- I think I'll have to keep making pottery. I'm too old for a Mohawk, don't have any green knee socks, and prefer brown sneakers (don't show the clay dust as much). And, no, after costs, I did not make close to $56/hour selling my pottery -- even though it was a very good fair. Hmmm, wonder if the face-painters make that kind of money?

#2 oldlady


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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:52 PM

one year i tried food.  chili, bbq beef sandwiches and hot dogs at bluemont.  only once.

"putting you down does not raise me up."

#3 GEP


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Posted 19 August 2013 - 09:52 AM

I always assumed the food vendors made more money than the artists, because there were so few of them in comparison to the artist booths. Once I was in a 3 day show that had rained steadily for the first 2 days. Sales were slow but I had made it into the profit zone. And so had all of my artist friends, including one who was doing the show for the first time. On the morning of day 3, which promised to be sunny, I stopped at a food booth for a snack. The food vendor saw my exhibitor badge and said "fingers crossed that we're all going to break even today!" I was surprised. I wonder if the food vendors booths are more expensive, or if their food costs are much higher than the cost to produce art. Anyhow, I'm sticking to pottery too!
Mea Rhee
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#4 Chris Campbell

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 10:23 AM

I'm betting the Baloon Man thought it would be a great gig until about hour three.
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#5 ayjay


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Posted 19 August 2013 - 01:12 PM

 I wonder if the food vendors booths are more expensive, or if their food costs are much higher than the cost to produce art. Anyhow, I'm sticking to pottery too!

I have a friend who used to be a vehicle mechanic, in middle age he got out of that and went into the mobile catering trade - he makes a good living out of it, more than he ever did as a part time mechanic but the costs for a pitch at some of the major events (in the UK) can be in excess of £1000 per day (he gives those a miss).

#6 Mark C.

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 07:14 PM

I personally do not want to be a clown even for 100K

I am a potter

I and am not a fan of mohawks-

I like making and selling pots and the money is not why I got into this long ago-its not whay I'm still into it-I like working with clay and ballons where never what I wanted to play with.

If its easy big money one is after then by all means do not choose clay. Its heavy and dusty and will work you over time.

I will give you all a tip on easy money

Pick a large show in a large city thats HOT in summer and sell cold lemonade-have several booths-I know folks doing a few hundred K at this if its only money one is after. By the way if its a rainy cool weekend at show you will need a few mondo refrigeraors to store a few hundred gallons of juice. And it will go bad so you will have to think it thru-its easier than dealing with pesky kids all day and ballons from china busting.

On a side note I once knew a great ballon sales man who for many years published our at that time only guide to shows written by us artists-His name is Lee and his publication was called the crafts fair guide and was a west coast deal. He sold ballons at shows and gather our sales info and sold subscriptions at show as well.This started in the 70's and 80's-he sold it in the 90's.

I ran into him at a show a few years ago -he is flying a small plane around for fun-small world .


Mark Cortright

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