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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Alaska Sucks. Don't come up here. (Not a ploy) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jay Jennings
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I have a zibit that I've shown a few times, but the opportunities here in Alaska are few and far between. No flea markets, for example. Well, there is an "all-year indoor" one in Anchorage, but the price they want for a booth is hideous. And it's more like a thrift store than a flea market with significant traffic.

In Anchorage in the summer there's a downtown market every weekend but it's $100 a day for a spot and I did try it once and broke even -- if I don't count my gas there and back, food, time, etc. Yeah.

Houston Founders' Day Festival - one day, a few thousand people, $25 for a spot. Made a couple hundred.

Tried the Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River. Booth space cost $365 for a 3-day weekend, profit of about $700 even after gas, food, etc. Worth doing -- but it's only once a year.

Decided to go "whole hog" and pay $1200 for a booth at the 10-day state fair -- I knew it would be worthwhile, but I can't get in there. Why? Because Golden Wheel Amusements is the only carnival in the state and they hold the fair hostage. They only allow the fair to let in 3 other exhibits of my type (things they think might be competition for the rides) and there's a waiting list twelve miles long for those spots. You think the pony rides are ever going to give up the spot they have? Don't think so. Plus, the fair gets 30% of the take for those exhibits and at $1 a pop they don't think I'd be worth it to bump someone else.

So those of you who don't live up here, give thanks for that. Enjoy what you have down there -- because you can't get it up here.

Just needed to whine a little bit...

Jay

PS - I know, the answer is to MOVE! But right now I have two parents here who are this -><- close to kicking the bucket and a teenage kid here in a hospital for medium-long term, to moving is not really an option. Not yet, anyway.
Steve_Mollett
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I can appreciate your situation.
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ringmaster
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Keep the Zibot in the bookcase and your easy-up behind the couch.
Anything they make is 100% gravy.
Don't sell 'um, you'll feel as bad as I do.
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
Jay Jennings
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No, selling it is the last thing on my mind. I'm trying to brainstorm some different options -- I know Doug (and others) has shown it from the trunk of a car, and I did something similar one day at a "spontaneous corner garage sale" just to see what would happen (picture attached).

I'd like to take my current vehicle (Buick Rendezvous - don't ever buy one (different story)) and come up with something that allows me to flip up the back hatch, swing out the signs, and be set up in about 30 seconds. That way I'd be ready to do "guerrilla zibiting" whenever I come across an opportunity.

I want to use it -- just can't do the "regular" way because of where I live, so I need to come up with some different ideas.

Jay

Click here to view attached image.
abigkahuna/1
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Hmmmm, Interesting about Alaska... Have you thought of a coin op mini museum?

see: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......forum=23
Jim Hand
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We used to hit 3 or 4 convience stores and small shopping center parking lots a week with a small "kiddie circus". Unit consisted of a single pony ride, truck mounted show, duck pond game, and snake photos. When we had electric we also had cotton candy and moon walk.....Never got rich but it fed a family of six... As far as a circus or carnival goes , it wasn't much but the basic concept was if someone stopped , don't let them spend a buck and leave, get as much as you can fron them...if they did everything ...they could spend $10. per person,sometimes even more, as the duck pond was a build-up.
We NEVER got a permit or booked in advance...we just showed up and found a spot...sometimes we had to pay 10 or 20 bucks for rent but most times the store owners were happy to have the activity...it stopped more people for their store. The one thing we learned was to STAY OUT of incorporated towns and cities...as long as we stayed out in the county areas we were fine.
Jay Jennings
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Cool stories/info, Jim, thanks!

>> The one thing we learned was to STAY OUT of incorporated towns and cities...as long as we stayed out in the county areas we were fine.

Another drawback of Alaska - the distances between unincorporated areas that even have a store are astronomical. But you've definitely given me some food for thought and maybe there's some way I can tweak that for use up here.

Jay

PS - While "astronomical" might be hyperbole, if you've driven Alaska you understand.
Jay Jennings
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Abigkahuna1, I thought of that last summer right after showing the zibit. Pulled up in front of the post office and spied a newspaper vending machine and thought, "Would be cool to have something like that where they put in their money and open the lid to see a zibit. Hmmm..."

But after thinking that, I never went any further. I did just read that thread and went searching for coin mechanisms -- I may have to look into that further.

Right now my zibit is in a box in a (heated) storage unit. When I'm not actively using it if it lived in a box with a coin thing -- in a place with foot traffic -- it could make a few bucks passively while I wait for the next opportunity to show it for real. Not sure if that's a good idea or not, but it is an idea. Smile

Jay
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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I love the sound of that "Kiddie Circus", Jim. Now that's an independent enterprise!
David Pitts
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So is the Zibit in the Van, Jay, I like it.
David Pitts
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Jim Hand
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Thanks David...The main point I was trying to make was you should try to have more than one way for the customer to spend money. .. Even wal-Mart would go broke if they only let you spend $1. at a time.

I love the Zibit in the van...GREAT concept...but ,of course, I would like a bit flashier signs.
Doug Higley
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My first grindshows were in Alaska. Alaska is drinking and breeding...I don't live there anymore as I do niether.

The Fair would be the ONE thing to do...Fur Rendevoux was always a good one as well as the native population came in to town in force and had a ball in the minus 10 degrees. I worked a snake show there and the snakes froze to death so we re-positioned them and showed anyway. ;-)
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
Jamie D. Grant
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I used my Zibit at our actual garage sale and made an extra $100! (Not in Alaska, though).
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StrangeAnimus
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Hi Jay,
I moved to the states year and a half back after being a lifelong Alaskan. The place IS a sideshow of its own... I used to shoot apples off my neighbor's head with my recurve bow as a kid and got to go whale hunting with my denaina family. Amazing feats of strength? Try pulling cars out of the snow filled ditches in negative 15, right? I was GM for the International Gallery (nonprofit) there for some time. It's a decidedly-not high brow group (though you'll find a high meandering of the wine sipping Alaska fake-hippy yuppy crowd, you know how it is). You might talk to them. Michelle I think still coordinates things there as Julie stepped back to run stuff at the museum. While fairs are the traditional way to go, Alaska is sort of a wildcard, and, lets face it, most the fairs in ak are just corporate tourism dressed up like down home, so unless you're selling tshirts and hematite bracelets, you're going to get your wallet picked before you even set up shop.

Try talking to the folks at the international gallery. we did a ton of crazy stuff when I was there, from sinking caddilacs in a man-made lake on the park strip and freezing it with lights on in January, to simple, quiet performance art type pieces like one girl, who had done a lot of circus with a family from the valley, every morning and evening for two weeks she put on stilts and this huge, grey pinstripe business suit and briefcase and walked her 9ft high "commute" through downtown. They did a lot of pop up stuff as well that you could get in on. I don't know if Jason is still around, but if so, Michelle may be able to put you in touch; he did a lot of stuff out and about that might help with some good ideas for where to set up and when. They used to rent uhals and do "pop up galleries" that would lend well to you target crowd. The IGCA loves stuff like that. First Fridays are a good time to set up downtown. Try just talking to them and there's a cool alley near the gallery that you could pop into on first Fridays and you've already got yourself a crowd that way as they are the primo stop for the art walks- you'll sell big to that crowd as they're local more than tourists; unless your setup has a "Alaskan" theme it will be hard to sell to the summer crowd (you so know what I mean). Also try big events like the roller derby (ok, that's big for anchorage). Again, monthly events that draw a specific crowd there. The REI Dansko Subaru crowd may not be it, but high traffic shots like bears tooth would be good too. All assuming you want to do a set up from your car, quick in and out.

Fur rendezvous as mentioned above is a good one, but you may freeze... The big thing is probably going to end up tailoring your zibit a bit to the crowd you're getting. Again a good time to know the IGCA or meet some businesses in that area that would let you set up on their sidewalk (theyll cover you with their sidewalk encroachment fee coverage per the city). Try groups like octopus ink and side street espresso or the Gstreet area. They do a few street fairs and are along the main pull where the iditarod sets up and fur rondy and such, so you make contact with them and you can pull right in during those events. there's locals and tourists, so it ain't hard to figure out how to target when you're there. First Fridays would be a good scene and it's monthly. I think the mt view trailer arts thing died, but Bruce farnsworth is probably still around and he's a strange sort that may have some good ideas too for where to set up and events. It's hard to find non-tourist stuff. Personally, I think alaskans- especially your 20/30-somethings and the arts crowd up there- are always dying for stuff like this, anything that isn't Alaska tourism crap. One of my friends there did a flea circus even, which was a lark. He sold it very smartly (phD in art history, he'd tell you it's all s**t). Try getting the attention of The Press (AKs version of the Seattle Stranger). There's ways to work it in AK, just has to be a different approach than you might have had in the lower 48. Fairs may have worked in Nebraska, but you're talking about competing with the huge moose wandering through the same parking lot... People in AK have a lot of attention-getters to contend with.

Feel free to PM me if you want some contact info or anything for local spots. We don't really have the same random setup options like they do in the states, so I know how rough it can be! It's a good place though, AK, just feels like the whole social atmosphere there is "underground."
StrangeAnimus
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If you want to do coin operated, try craigslist for old vending pieces. We did a bit of that for a while- a lot of the sell with this sort of thing I think actually lies in the sentimentality of it, simplistic and the child-like excitement that comes from the past of penny arcades and vending machines with stickers and toys or even peep shows. There was an art group, in I think norway, that used to sell "spy accessories" in vending machines. Like one package would have a rock in it. Which is a ridiculous, annoying ploy that most people would say but why?! Idea was you'd put the rock in your shoe and then it would give you an awkward gait as part of your "disguise." sure you could get a rock anywhere, but THIS was an official spy kit! Novelty is a funny concept. Dr Shotgun, though I think the artist who "birthed" him has since killed him off, used to do vending stuff of small peep show boxes (with pictures of exgirlfriends that was both lurid and funny). I think setting up in newspaper vending boxes with your setups inside, done next to a real newspaper vending boxes, would be great... Big appeal to sentimental ideas like the vending would do well in AK where people really want something different and at the same time something that is sort of an Americana throw-back as they don't have that history and culture there.
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