Monday, May 12, 2014


So, this is something new I guess.  The expos we typically go to in Darien, St. Charles, and Oak Lawn have now said that for us to get sponsored (so we can go for free), we need to present at each show, make a donation basket for each show, and find at least one vendor to attend.  Now, presenting is fine, the donation basket is fine (we typically make one anyway, requirement or not), but the vendor may be a problem.

Last year, the person I talk with regarding these expos suggested I find myself a sponsor. So, I went to local pet related businesses, and even some that aren't, and asked for either them to sponsor the booth or to give some money towards the booth fee.  Not a single place would give me even a freakin dollar towards the booth fee, much less sponsor the booth. 

One place told me that they had to buy mulch (yeah, because you know, mulch is so expensive), and the others pretty much echoed a similar sentiment:  with the closest show being 45+ minutes away, they didn't think anyone from the shows would come out this way to come to the businesses.  Which does make sense, as there's pet hospitals and specialty pet stores out in the Chicagoland area as well.  No reason for the average person to drive an hour just to go to one little shop.  And I spent a LOT of time talking to businesses, to get nowhere. 

The email that said these things came from someone different than the person I usually talk to, so I emailed the person I know, asking about this.  I told her how I spent a lot of time this past year trying to get sponsored for the expos myself (and she should remember that), but I had no luck whatsoever.  And I told her, if I have to spend weeks upon weeks to find a vendor, it's just not worth it.  At the expos, we typically get about $50-100 worth of sales (over two days), $15-30 in donations, and if we're lucky, an adoption (most times, no adoption... but it does get the word out). 

Now, lets assume that we have an awesome expo.  We make $100 in sales, $30 in donation, and get a $100 chin adoption.  Yay, right?  That's $230 made in 2 days for the rescue.  Yay, right?  Not quite.  Hotel for two days typically runs about $150.  All of a sudden we're down to $80.  Gas isn't free.  Let's take St. Charles because that's typically a good expo.  That's about 60 miles way.  So, 120 miles there and back.  I get roughly 15 miles to the gallon, so 8 gallons to get there and back.  Let's say 10 gallons total, because we have to eat while we're there and we gotta drive to where we're eating.  So, 10 gallons at $3.50/gallon is $35.  Down to $44.  If we eat fast food all weekend and can restrict ourselves to $7 per person per meal (not including breakfast, which is free at the hotel), we have 4 meals (dinner Friday, lunch and dinner Saturday, and lunch Sunday).  4 Meals x $14 (two people) = $56.  Wait.... now we're at negative $12.  And that's an AWESOME expo (for comparison, our last expo got $37.55 in donations, $50ish in sales, and a $13 rat adoption... but we still had hotel, food, gas, and other fees).  Not to mention, the time spent packing at home and unpacking/setting up at the expo.  And packing again at the end and unpacking at home.  And getting ready ahead of time, because I have to make the toys, package the herbs, etc etc.   Plus the fact that we're there (two people) for two and a half days.

Anyway, my point is, it's fine if we barely break even (or not) if we get the word out and don't spend a ton of other time (outside the expo weekend) on the expo.  But if I also have to spend weeks of time trying to get a vendor to attend.... it's not worth the time.  The rescue already loses money on the average expo, without losing a ton of time as well.  And to be perfectly honest, if we're gonna spend weeks trying to get a vendor, for the purpose of going to an expo to get exposure.... I could just as easily spend that time working on marketing and promotion and accomplish the same thing without ever having to leave the house, pay for hotel, pay for gas, etc.  And let's not forget the difficulty I have with getting people to go with me....    

...and really, I'm not even sure, if I did spend weeks and weeks trying to get a vendor, if I'd even get one!  We're too far out from the expos for most local places to care, and again, time is worth something.  If I spend weeks and get no one, and consequently, don't go to the expo, that's a lot of time wasted, for absolutely nothing. 

So, I emailed asking about this and letting her know about all of this.

But here's what kills me.  And I know that the person I deal with isn't part of ownership of the company or anything, so it's not her that's money hungry, but here's the thing.  It costs like $800 for every vendor who wants a booth.  Pet hospitals and smaller pet businesses and the like are $600, pet rescues are $300 for a booth.  Let's just say, conservatively, there's 10 vendors per show.  Let's say there's 10 pet hospitals.  Let's say there's 20 rescues.  Admission is $7 or $6 with a coupon.  They often say at least 10,000 people attend, so let's go with that.  Let's just, for shits and giggles, say they all have a coupon and get in for $6.  All of that equals out to $77,000.  Now, granted, they have to pay for the location for two days, so even if that's $20,000, they're making $57,000 in profit.  IN ONE WEEKEND.  I get companies that want to make a profit, heck, I want the rescue to pay for itself, so it doesn't have to come out of my pocket  (other than my time).  So I get it.  But you'd think with $57,000 in profit they could waive a $300 rescue booth fee.  I mean, let's think about this.  To get a free booth, I have to get a vendor to agree to pay $800ish to have a booth there.  Versus paying $300 for a rescue booth.  Hmmmmmm.  Plus presenting, donation basket, etc etc.  Seems that's a lot of work for a $300 booth -- not even HALF of what it costs for that vendor.

Little peeved today if you can't tell.

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