Spring into Success: Hosting Mother's Day Vendor Events at Your Indoor Playground Business for A Revenue Boost

 

One way to get a revenue boost and increase in foot traffic and online awareness for your indoor playground business in the spring time is hosting a Mother’s Day “Sip-and-Shop” event. 

I gave some tips on these vendor events on my YouTube channel a few years back in 2021, but I am going to add some updated suggestions and tips here in this article.

If you prefer to listen, you can get this content on the Profitable Play Podcast episode 278!

First, what IS a “sip-and-shop” event? 

For me, the term “sip and shop” refers to a vendor event where local artisans and makers set up in your indoor playground space and sell their goods to customers you all work together to bring in. 

And that covers the “shop” part. 

The “sip” part can mean whatever you like–but essentially, it’s just a way to draw more people to the event.  For us, if it was a daytime event, we would serve coffee and other cafe drinks free of charge to customers because people LOVE free coffee and it is very inexpensive for us to give away. 

It could also refer to wine, beer, or mimosas, or anything like that. Just be sure you check with your local laws on what you can legally serve if you don’t have a liquor license. For us in NYS, we could apply for a special event license which was around $50 and needed our landlord's signature. 

This would allow us to serve beer and wine during a designated time slot. If you’d rather not bother with a permit because there is a cost and it can take several weeks to get approved, you can also reach out to local wineries or breweries who may be willing to come onsite and offer samples of the drinks they sell. 

You can also allow them to sell flights, glasses, or pints– but remember, the laws are usually MUCH more flexible if you just plan on serving free samples. The crack down tends to come when you or someone else on premises will be CHARGING for the drinks. So, do whatever feels right for you, just keep that all in mind as you’re planning.

And while today we are talking about sip and shop events in the context of Mother’s Day, you can also host sip and shops for other holidays. 

And just know, the success of your first event is critical, because it will tell both shoppers and vendors if the event is worth their time, energy, and money.

So without further adieu, here are my tips for hosting a sip and shop event that is smashingly successful for you, for your vendors, and for your customers. 

 

1) Charge VENDORS, NOT Shoppers.

One of my key recommendations is to make your sip and shop event free for attendees. By eliminating an entry fee, you create a more inviting atmosphere that is likely to attract a larger crowd. Plus, if there’s no cover charge, attendees will be more able and willing to spend money with your vendors, creating a winning situation for all.

Free events also generate positive word-of-mouth promotion, which can significantly boost attendance and overall success.

For your first event, I would recommend charging around $50 per vendor, and accepting around 15 vendors. Once we had a few successful events under our belt, our vendor spots became more coveted and we were able to charge more– but for your first go, I’d recommend charging a low enough fee where vendors can easily make a profit even if the turnout is lower than expected. I

f you haven’t noticed, local small businesses that participate in vendor events are usually very well connected with each other and if word gets out that your event was a huge bust for them- it will be extremely hard for you to host another vendor event that attracts high quality vendors in the future.

So charge around $50 and consider working the first event yourself so you can get the experience and save a bit on staff costs. With 15 vendors, your event will still gross at least $750. 

And if you host your event on a weeknight when you would not normally be open or hosting a party anyway, that’s time that your space would normally be empty, so there are no opportunity cost since you’re not taking away a potential birthday party from your business. I wouldn’t recommend charging any LESS than that though, because remember, YOU have an asset thats extremely valuable to any local maker who doesn't have a storefront. 

You have a physical space AND a customer base. That’s valuable, and you SHOULD charge for that. After all, it requires work and money to pay for your space, turn on the utilities, set up and clean up, market the event, etc. 

But please, don’t double dip and charge both vendors and attendees, it’s just not worth it in my opinion. There are other ways to make extra money at your sip and shop, which we will touch on soon. 

The only way I WOULD charge is if you are allowing kiddos– I might recommend charging for a play pass. We chose not to allow kids just because when we did it was kind of a nightmare with the parents trying to shop and mingle and the kids running crazy– but as always, do what makes sense to you. It took us trying both ways to figure out that OUR customers WANTED a night out with other local parents.

Before we get to ways to boost your events profitability, though, I alluded to the term, “high quality vendors” a moment ago. And that brings me to my next tip.

 

2) Select Vendors People WANT To Shop

I cannot stress enough the importance of carefully selecting HIGH QUALITY vendors for your event. While you should always do what feels right for YOUR business, I personally advise against allowing multi-level marketing (MLM) companies to participate, as their sales tactics may not align with your values and can absolutely deter attendees. 

One of the MAIN questions I got leading up to these events was, “are MLM’s participating”? And if I said yes, that meant an automatic “NO” from many amazing vendors and potential attendees. 

I made the mistake of allowing a mix of MLM and more handmade vendors at my first event, and let me tell you– HUGE mistake. I won’t use this opportunity to get on my soapbox about MLMs– BUT, I will say it took me a LONG time to win back the trust of my customers and other vendors and just take my word for it, it’s not worth it. You can likely find 15 real small businesses to support instead.

And by this I mean handmade items or food items from licensed vendors. And make sure the items are aligned with the holiday your sip and shop is close to. So for a mothers day sip and shop, ask yourself– would this vendor's items work as a mothers day gift?

Some of our most popular booths for mothers day were crochet items, cups and pottery, locally made soaps and candles, local food items like cookies, spices, and honey- things like that.

To sum this one up- by curating a list of high-quality vendors, you ensure a positive shopping experience for your guests and maintain the integrity of your event. 

And just make sure you are clear about whether MLMS will be allowed in your event description, to save yourself a lot of time and energy responding to the 100 messages you’ll get asking. If you are like me and choose not to allow them, you may get some complaints- but trust me, it will only be from people who sell MLM products. So, there’s that. Moving on.

 

3) Partner With Other Local Businesses

To increase excitement and participation, as I mentioned in the beginning, I suggest offering free coffee or drinks to attendees. This small gesture goes a long way in creating a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere. Additionally, by partnering with local businesses (for whom a normal vendor spot would not make sense) to provide snacks or alcohol can enhance the overall experience for your guests. 

A great thing about working with larger local businesses like breweries or wineries or coffee shops if you don’t have a cafe yourself is that they generally have a large social following. So if you ask your vendors and partners to share information about your event, it creates a win-win situation for all involved. Vendors get more traffic which means more sales, and you get more attendees which means bigger value for vendors at subsequent events.

If there is a business who you’d like to partner with because you cater to similar audiences but it doesn’t make sense for them to do a booth – like for example a family estate planner or a car dealership or a real estate agent or company- consider asking them to be the presenting event sponsor. 

You can charge them a few hundred dollars and use that money to purchase drinks, refreshment, advertising spots for the event, gift bags for purchasers, things like that. In exchange, you could put their name on all the event materials, make print stickers to put on the bags, and allow them to put out or hand out brochures or other information to attendees. Many of these businesses have budgets for partnering with and sponsoring local events, so don’t sleep on this opportunity.

 

4) Create A Giveaway

Since you know I can’t go one single episode without mentioning building one of the most VALUABLE assets in your business- your email list- here’s a simple tip for both adding to your email list AND incentivizing attendance. 

Encourage attendees to sign up in advance and enter a raffle, with the condition that they must have checked in at some time at the event to be eligible to win. This strategy ensures that those who sign up actually attend, increasing the chances of a successful event and allowing you to grow your email list for future marketing efforts.

For your raffle, I definitely recommend contributing some items of your own such as merch, coffee, gift cards, or retail items- but also consider requiring that vendors contribute as well. If you charge $50 per table or booth, that’s still well below average compared to many other vendor events I’ve participated in. 

Put in your contract that, in addition to the fee, they need to contribute something worth about x amount to the raffle. Let’s say $10-25. I have had vendors try to get away with contributing coupons or like $5 gift cards- but no. That’s not going to create an incentive. Make sure you are specific about it being a physical item and what the approximate worth should be.

 

5) Have a Vendor Contract

Anytime you partner with another small business, have a simple contract. A lot of people think, well why? A small local artisan isn’t going to sue me. Well first, never say never, but a contract can also be a great way to just establish expectations for BOTH parties. 

Things you should include in a contract include what YOU are promising as a physical space including table size and any decor like table coverings, how much time they have before and after the event for set up and tear down, how they will be able to take payments, if you are going to be charging a % of sales– all that good stuff.

It’s also good to include what vendors can expect from you regarding marketing the event, and what they can do as vendors to share the event with their audiences. So you may want to consider sharing some graphics or copy/paste swipe copy with them to make it as easy as possible for them to share the information wherever they can. Sometimes it’s little things like that, that really make events stand out from a vendors perspective because it shows that you care about them, and aren’t just doing it to collect their $50 and do the bare minimum. 

You should also include what they can and can’t bring in terms of decor, and you can copy from your party contract if it’s easier.

I also have a vendor contract I provide to all Play Cafe Academy and Playmaker Society members so if you are in one of my programs, feel free to grab that done-for-you, lawyer-created template as well. Because of course there are other clauses you need to include like a cancelation policy, and extreme event or weather policy, etc.

 

6) Set Up Your Own Booth

If you still want to boost the profit from your sip and shop consider setting up your own booth. We liked to put together made-for-you, gifting-ready mini gift baskets with a branded mug, a bag of coffee, and a gift card or month of membership voucher. People loved buying these for the moms in their lives.

 

7) Make Your Event FUN

To make your sip and shop event stand out, try to incorporate fun and unique elements. Consider hiring a live musician to play throughout the event to create a lively atmosphere. Or host an adult coloring station or permanent jewelry station or partner with other businesses to offer additional activities that complement the shopping experience. If you’re feeling edgy you can also have vendors that offer botox, piercings, or tattoos. By creating a fun and memorable experience for attendees, you enhance their overall satisfaction and increase the likelihood of repeat attendance.

 

To wrap this one up, posting a successful sip and shop event requires careful planning and attention to detail. By implementing the tips and recommendations I have shared, you can avoid common pitfalls and create an event that attracts a large audience, generates positive feedback, and ultimately leads to increased sales for your vendors.

 

Remember to prioritize the selection of high-quality vendors, offer incentives for attendance, and make the event enjoyable and unique. With these strategies in place, you can confidently host a sip and shop event that will be remembered and cherished by attendees.


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