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Selling booze at festivals?


Boatswain
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Hi, 

I wanted to see if anyone had any experience or advice for selling booze on a stall at festivals? 

I'm looking to become a vendor and sell mixed drinks - cocktails essentially, but wanted to see if anyone else had ever done similar on here?

Obviously a lot of the events - even Glasto these days - are dominated by only a few big alcohol brands, so is it possible for anyone else to get in? If not, has anyone had any luck on the smaller festival circuits? I'm thinking that's an easier place to start...

Would be interested for some incite and whether other's have had any luck/knowledged around this.

Cheers all

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I'd say that there's an awful lot of red tape to go through in order to sell alcohol at a festival. Then you've got to compete far a stall with those not already in the know ie. who may have a proven track record, already 'know' people who can get them a secure place etc. On top of that you'll possibly need to pay for a pitch in advance, have appropriate transport, insurances, stock, licence, permits (as above). Let's face it, if it were that easy to make the amounts of cash these places can make, then we'd all be doing it. 

The above said, don't let me put you off. Nearly everybody has to start small and then grow, so going to the much smaller festivals, may get you a line in. In addition, it would provide you with experience, what to expect in the future etc.

I couldn't find anything specific, but this might help a little;

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/food-vendor-festivals-fairs-14200.html

You maye also want to go on line and look at some trade organisations, who may have further info.

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Officially it’s as much paperwork to sell for 5 days as a pub has to do for 1 year. 

Unofficially anyone can sell anything if you don’t get caught. 

My mate sells homebrew cider and lager on the path at Glastonbury and tells everyone who asks he’s legit and is basically another serving point from the nearest bar. Clearly he’s not and he can run quite fast. 

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If you are just interested in a bit of pin money then you can take Ian's approach but I wonder whether that's worth it.

If you are interested as a serious business proposition then take it seriously and do it properly - possibly cutting your teeth on some of the smaller festivals.  But again be aware that there are a lot of professionals already out there - both businesses and collectives.

Often larger festivals already have a brewery tie up - for example Wychwood - and quite a few are heavily into real ale - like Green Man, so it's not an easy area to break into.

Edited by grumpyhack
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Its a Temporary Event Notice isn't it? Don't need the Personal licence/ Designated Premises Supervisor bit from the 2003 act? Depends on your hours and whether you sell food but the paperwork really isn't that onerous. Somerset Council will have form on their web site.

Problem would be getting a pitch wouldn't it?

Edited by Ted Dansons Wig
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True, public licensing and DSP etc are done by the festival but each vendor still has to sign up and show that are confirming to the on-site DSP or their representatives.  Plus weights and measures, food hygiene, challenge 21 (or whatever age), book of refusals, training registers, fire safety, electrical sign off, PAT tests, working at heights, gas, noise at work etc etc etc etc and you’re there!!!

Getting a pitch is easy, you pay for it up front.  I can’t quote you figures but from what my food trading and jewellery trading mates have said over the years, it generally takes around 1/2 of the festival to break even and the rest is profit.  However this can be worse (2/3rds or even 3/4) if the weather is against whatever you are selling.  

One mate does pizzas at 5 big UK summer festivals back to back per year and earns what he needs to live through the winter months.

like Grumpyhack says, do it right or not at all. Treat it as a proper business, and expect it to be hard work. 

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5 minutes ago, eFestivals said:

perhaps not so easy, as the bar concessions sell for absolutely bonkers money.

How much? Had always assumed they only came up once in a blue moon.

12 minutes ago, ian the worm said:

True, public licensing and DSP etc are done by the festival but each vendor still has to sign up and show that are confirming to the on-site DSP or their representatives.  Plus weights and measures, food hygiene, challenge 21 (or whatever age), book of refusals, training registers, fire safety, electrical sign off, PAT tests, working at heights, gas, noise at work etc etc etc etc and you’re there!!!

Getting a pitch is easy, you pay for it up front.  I can’t quote you figures but from what my food trading and jewellery trading mates have said over the years, it generally takes around 1/2 of the festival to break even and the rest is profit.  However this can be worse (2/3rds or even 3/4) if the weather is against whatever you are selling.  

One mate does pizzas at 5 big UK summer festivals back to back per year and earns what he needs to live through the winter months.

like Grumpyhack says, do it right or not at all. Treat it as a proper business, and expect it to be hard work. 

Fair point - me being naive as usual. Lot of the alcohol selling stuff I'm familiar with - but never thought of the temporary pitch hoops you'd have to jump through.

We bought our house off a guy who runs crepe selling stands at outdoor events. He earns a mint - just never gets time to spend it as he has to work 24/7 to keep the business going.

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16 minutes ago, Ted Dansons Wig said:

How much? Had always assumed they only came up once in a blue moon.

I've no idea on exact prices, and anyway it'll vary depending on the size of the festival.

But think tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands.

Think of how much festival beer is - there's at least £1 a pint extra on top of the normal - and that there's (say) ten thousand people there and each person will buy around ten drinks over the weekend, and you can see how it could easily be £100,000.

Ultimately, the price that's charged is related to the profit the festival thinks the bar concession will make.

Edited by eFestivals
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6 minutes ago, eFestivals said:

I've no idea on exact prices, and anyway it'll vary depending on the size of the festival.

But think tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands.

Think of how much festival beer is - there's at least £1 a pint extra on top of the normal - and that there's (say) ten thousand people there and each person will buy around ten drinks over the weekend, and you can see how it could easily be £100,000.

Ultimately, the price that's charged is related to the profit the festival thinks the bar concession will make.

That reminds me of the time Reading tried to offer people a free drink and burger with every tix as the sales were low and the vendor gave Melvin a huge backlash.

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51 minutes ago, eFestivals said:

I've no idea on exact prices, and anyway it'll vary depending on the size of the festival.

But think tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands.

Think of how much festival beer is - there's at least £1 a pint extra on top of the normal - and that there's (say) ten thousand people there and each person will buy around ten drinks over the weekend, and you can see how it could easily be £100,000.

Ultimately, the price that's charged is related to the profit the festival thinks the bar concession will make.

Ouch

 

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 5:11 PM, Ted Dansons Wig said:

How much? Had always assumed they only came up once in a blue moon.

Fair point - me being naive as usual. Lot of the alcohol selling stuff I'm familiar with - but never thought of the temporary pitch hoops you'd have to jump through.

We bought our house off a guy who runs crepe selling stands at outdoor events. He earns a mint - just never gets time to spend it as he has to work 24/7 to keep the business going.

I worked with a bloke who ran enormous rigs at places like Glastonbury, The Highland Games etc. He was, according to the tax man, earning £16K at our place. The reality was that he had a massive pad out in the country, a fleet of cars, including the proverbial Roller, etc etc and was a cash very rich person. He would never sat boo to a goose in the job he did for me. No way did he want to rock the waves. I was the only person, to my knowledge, that he told about this. Nobody else knew about his wealth, but I'd been there and seen his house, his cars etc. Why? Because he flogged me his very first (very small) rig, that had been stored in one of his garages for years. And did I make a success of it like he did? Did I bollocks! I'm far far too stupidly inclined to achieve something like that!

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  • 5 years later...

Has anyone who is responding actually run a bar at a festival because it seems like a lot of scare mongering. Yes you can do it. No it doesn't haven't to be expensive. Yes you need a personal license, unless you're working for a company whose staff has their own personal license at which point you can put their license down for yourself, but as you will need more than one person running the bar with you, the person on the license would be best to be with you. No you don't need a massive setup but it depends on the event plan and flow of customers as to where you want to be placed. Yes more prestigious vendors (or the event's vendors that they own) always take pride of place for the most amount of profit. Yes there is money to be made as an independent. The best thing you can do is go to the event you want to sell at and speak with vendors to find out what they paid in many different locations. Ask them what their take has been at the end of the day to help you gauge if their area's position is worth it. Everyone is normally really friendly. Just be really casual and very kind and happy and they'll chat with you. They'll also be busy trying to get customers when they don't have them and serving customers when they do, so do not be a breath of bad air. Take 1 minute of their time, and buy a drink from them to say thank you. Do not try to approach the organizers at these events. They have way too much to do. Best to go on their website, find contact details and wait for them to get back to you. If it's during their events, you'll be aiming for next year, unless they have multiple events and an exhibitor application page that you can send an enquiry through. Getting a personal license is not as easy as it seems solely because the test is so convoluted. They write questions in a way that does not make any sense. There are people you can pay to help you acquire a license who have partnerships with educational services and know how  the council works. It's a good idea to find and use one if you don't want to waste money failing and having to redo it. Lastly, there's obviously the set up - what are you serving out of, how does that impact where you can be on-site, how does that impact how much stock you can bring for each day? Your van (rented or owned) will hold all of your stock, but you cannot bring it back on-site during the event for restock, so whatever event you are doing, ensure you bare the storage capacity of your pop-up/marquee/vendor vehicle/etc in mind and the plot size you are given. Logistically there is a lot of work. Once you've set up once however, it is a Rinse and Repeat type business, so definitely easier as you go on. You can make drinks simple and ensure you don't need electricity or gas, or you can be more advanced and have these things, however, you will require the appropriate safety certificates. Best not to sell open food with booze. That adds a whole level of unnecessary hassle and changes they checks and hygiene issues you need to cope with. Keep it simple.

 

Good luck!

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On 5/6/2024 at 8:08 AM, Sa Ne said:

Has anyone who is responding actually run a bar at a festival because it seems like a lot of scare mongering. Yes you can do it. No it doesn't haven't to be expensive. Yes you need a personal license, unless you're working for a company whose staff has their own personal license at which point you can put their license down for yourself, but as you will need more than one person running the bar with you, the person on the license would be best to be with you. No you don't need a massive setup but it depends on the event plan and flow of customers as to where you want to be placed. Yes more prestigious vendors (or the event's vendors that they own) always take pride of place for the most amount of profit. Yes there is money to be made as an independent. The best thing you can do is go to the event you want to sell at and speak with vendors to find out what they paid in many different locations. Ask them what their take has been at the end of the day to help you gauge if their area's position is worth it. Everyone is normally really friendly. Just be really casual and very kind and happy and they'll chat with you. They'll also be busy trying to get customers when they don't have them and serving customers when they do, so do not be a breath of bad air. Take 1 minute of their time, and buy a drink from them to say thank you. Do not try to approach the organizers at these events. They have way too much to do. Best to go on their website, find contact details and wait for them to get back to you. If it's during their events, you'll be aiming for next year, unless they have multiple events and an exhibitor application page that you can send an enquiry through. Getting a personal license is not as easy as it seems solely because the test is so convoluted. They write questions in a way that does not make any sense. There are people you can pay to help you acquire a license who have partnerships with educational services and know how  the council works. It's a good idea to find and use one if you don't want to waste money failing and having to redo it. Lastly, there's obviously the set up - what are you serving out of, how does that impact where you can be on-site, how does that impact how much stock you can bring for each day? Your van (rented or owned) will hold all of your stock, but you cannot bring it back on-site during the event for restock, so whatever event you are doing, ensure you bare the storage capacity of your pop-up/marquee/vendor vehicle/etc in mind and the plot size you are given. Logistically there is a lot of work. Once you've set up once however, it is a Rinse and Repeat type business, so definitely easier as you go on. You can make drinks simple and ensure you don't need electricity or gas, or you can be more advanced and have these things, however, you will require the appropriate safety certificates. Best not to sell open food with booze. That adds a whole level of unnecessary hassle and changes they checks and hygiene issues you need to cope with. Keep it simple.

 

Good luck!

 

Responding to someone who hasn't been on this site for nearly 6 years!?

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5 hours ago, Yoghurt on a Stick said:

 

Responding to someone who hasn't been on this site for nearly 6 years!?

It’ll likely be a bot … was keeping my eye on it for spammy links . If you spot any like this in future just hit the report button . Please avoid quoting them . Cheers yog . 

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5 hours ago, Crazyfool01 said:

It’ll likely be a bot … was keeping my eye on it for spammy links . If you spot any like this in future just hit the report button . Please avoid quoting them . Cheers yog . 

 

Hello Crazy,

 

I had no idea about the likelihood of it being a bot. Do bots have harmful 'things' within them? It did appear quite detailed and on subject. I guess that's AI. As you are most likely aware, IT is not exactly my strong point.

 

While I'm on I'll take the opportunity to wish you a very happy Glastonbury. 

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1 minute ago, Yoghurt on a Stick said:

 

Hello Crazy,

 

I had no idea about the likelihood of it being a bot. Do bots have harmful 'things' within them? It did appear quite detailed and on subject. I guess that's AI. As you are most likely aware, IT is not exactly my strong point.

 

While I'm on I'll take the opportunity to wish you a very happy Glastonbury. 

yeah Ai also , just post things with spammy links which arent always great  and to try and improve search engine optimisation so they get listed higher in searches . Nor my specialist subject but we try and keep it as human as possible here 🙂 

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