Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts?

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djdawg
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2012/11/08 23:10:16 (permalink)

Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts?

I have the opportunity to sling dogs over several weekends before Xmas and thought I'd throw this out there...I'm sure others have done this and might have some pointers....here's the deal.
 
I'll be meeting with the family this Monday to see the lay of the land but here's what I know at this point.
  • 3rd generation Xmas tree farm in my area...I'm sure my dad and I went there to cut our tree way back when I was in middle school. 
  • Sheltered area for me and my cart and customers....sounds like more than a carport but open ended on a few sides I believe
  • They are not asking for any rent...I offered to give their employees (6 or so) free lunch for allowing me to be there
  • They have never had any vendors there before
  • They average 300-400 people each weekend
  • They will not have any additional food other than cider and donuts in the morning...sounds like they would like me there around 11-4 or so
In addition, they are thinking it might work well to have me there Fri, Sat & Sun starting the Fri after Thanksgiving and going 5 weeks until Sun the 23rd.  I do have a M-F lunch spot downtown that has been ok....nothing rip roaring so sacrificing the Fri might not be too bad of a thing.  However other than the Fri after Thanksgiving when I know many people are off and I do know people get their trees on that day, I'm wondering if working there Fridays after that might not be very profitable?  If folks are heading to a Xmas tree farm on a Fri, I would think it would be after folks get off work...I'm more inclined to just be there Sat and Suns....and I'm also thinking that the last weekend (21-23) might be a waste of time.....anyway, that's all I know at this point.    
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    BpCBlake
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 00:29:43 (permalink)
    sounds good. I know doggers that setup near haunted houses and make some good bucks, why not tree farms and tree lots?
    #2
    chefbuba
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 01:01:11 (permalink)
    300-400 people each weekend..... that's three days, your looking at 10-15 hot dogs a day.......
    #3
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 01:19:02 (permalink)
    Buba....tell  me more.  Why are you thinking this?
    #4
    chefbuba
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 10:49:28 (permalink)
    If the weekend is Fri-Sun, three days right? 300-400, over 3 days right?
    Lets go high with 400, that's an average 130 ppl each day, right?
    How many of them do you figure to buy a hot dog? I would say 10%
    Or am I totally off base here?
    #5
    bartl
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 11:21:24 (permalink)
    When I saw the subject, my first thought was that it is a bad idea to serve dogs at an Xmas tree farm; they'll pee all over the trees!
     
    Bart
    #6
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 11:28:20 (permalink)
    Speaking strictly as a Christmas tree buyer who has spent a lot of Christmases either buying cut trees or cutting trees at tree farms I can't imagine too many peole wanting to spend time eating hotdogs during the process. I can see cider and hot chocolate getting the nod on a cold day, and maybe even donuts. But, in my experience, it's usually just find the right tree; get the right tree. And then get home.
    #7
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 11:42:41 (permalink)
    Wow...ok guys, thanks.  I understood your 10% rule buba (festival percentages usually) I was just thinking that maybe the Xmas tree farm experience might be different....not as many distractions as there are at a festival, etc....I think I should rethink this....
     
    And I was thinking if I was up picking out a tree I would totally buy a hot dog for me and my family....but maybe I'm just weird.  ha ha
     
    One additional thought I had was when I originally spoke with the husband he's the one that gave me the 300-400 a weekend figure...I'm wondering if he is talking about trees sold and not people.  If that's trees sold per weekend that number (of actual people) could easily be doubled if not tripled since most of the time there is at least a couple that is tree shopping if not whole families with kids, etc...does that change anyones mind if we're talking more like 600 - 800 actual people?
    post edited by djdawg - 2012/11/09 11:56:11
    #8
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/09 12:32:38 (permalink)
    Personal I think it would take a few years to build this location.
    If I didn't know you were there I would already have fed the kids, lets go get a tree. If I knew you were there I would make a trip of it. What could be better on a cool snowy day than picking out and cutting a tree with the kids then Hot Dogs. The kids would have a blast.
    #9
    Foodbme
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 02:07:21 (permalink)
    I worked with my F-I-L for several years at his Christmas Tree Farm.
    I'd think you'd do pretty well.
    You will have a high % of kids there with their parents. 
    Just have plenty of Ketchup since there will be lots of kids who want ketchup on their hot dogs.
    Kids will pester their parents to buy them a hot dog.
    Have chips and candy bars too!
    post edited by Foodbme - 2012/11/10 02:12:09
    #10
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 11:18:17 (permalink)
    After thinking a bit, if there were two tree farms everything being equal just one with dogs, hot chocolate and what ever I would automatically pick the one with dogs. Other things would be picnic area, hay ride, make an afternoon out of it. If it just said cut your own tree it doesn't excite me near as much.  I always wonder how many people shop at a certain store because there's a cart out front. I guess the only way to find out is to go out. Make sure the tree farm advertises for you.
    #11
    Foodbme
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 13:10:30 (permalink)
    DJ
    Be sure to ask them if they have a web site and  are advertising otherwise. If so, will they put you on it?
    If they have a site, please post it here so we can see it too.
     Agree with Ice Cream Man - the more activities/sttractions the bigger the opportunities with a bigger crowd
    #12
    BpCBlake
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 14:16:54 (permalink)
    and hot chocolate with crushed peppermint too.
    I seen the mix on sale at walmart.
    KETCHUP? yak.
     
    #13
    jcheese
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 16:18:56 (permalink)
    A couple of thoughts......
    If they know there will be Hot Dogs, they may come with an empty stomach.
    I've done a lot of "Last Minute" gigs where they didn't know beforehand I'd be there. They already ate.
    Maybe work a deal where if you buy a tree you get a free Hot Dog. Of course, the tree seller pays for this.
    Does he have much competition? It could swing folks his way.
    #14
    RJT
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 17:26:54 (permalink)
     
    If he is not charging you anything and you are not jeopardizing losing another location or gig to work there, then just try it a few weekends and then you will know. Then you can tell us, so we will all know..... 
    #15
    YOAman
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 22:09:20 (permalink)
    You may do ok, but i would not hold my breath for big bucks just yet, here is why. I just got through with a haunted house gig over the last month. It is one of the biggest haunted houses in the whole state. Brings over 400 people a day. I was the only vendor and leading up to opening day I already had my vacation to hawaii planned,lol. I thought I was going to RAKE it in. however, I did not make more then $60 a day on any given day. Why you ask? because this haunted house has been going on for a long long time, everyone has been here before and they have never had food. Everyday I hear people say " wow, they have food this year If i had known that I would not have eaten first".....and thats the kicker. Tree farms like that keep people coming back year after year, if they have never had a vendor before, people are going to eat before they come. You may do ok but it may take a few years ( like Ice Cream Man said) to build it, also Advertise like crazy!!!!
    #16
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 23:30:54 (permalink)
    Thanks everyone....I'm going to meet with them on Monday to scope things out...I did call them yesterday to go over a few things and let them know my concerns...they are very understanding and they do not want me to waste  my time or lose money.  I told them my conditions and they were ok with them....
     
    Instead of starting the Fri after Thanksgiving my first Sat and Sun will be two weeks following...Dec 8th and 9th.  If my sales aren't decent enough they are ok with me bowing out and I'll be done.  If it's profitable enough, I will come back the next weekend.  I guess those two weekends are the best of the season....I think it's something I need to try out just to see...it looks like they have a pretty active facebook page so I'll certainly be asking them to promote me.  I'll also push it on my page and maybe if some people are planning on getting a tree anyway they might go up on my weekends...I'll keep you posted....
    #17
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 23:39:03 (permalink)
    This is always one of the ideas that are bounced around and never seem to have follow-up reports about the nifty results. Like the big Black Friday ideas.

    Maybe because most of the time it's a vision of all future happy families having fun family time and are overjoyed about the idea of having the hot dogs and the hot chocolate...like they are all ready to sing Christmas carols.

    Maybe city life is different but most of us think..

    Jesus...how long before the tree falls off the roof before I get it home?

    Now I have to remember to water the tree (and not get sticky)

    How long before one of the kids knock it over...because they don't think it's straight?

    How many needles will I have to vacuum and for how long?

    I don't know if you can do it...but the one thing that mingles with the crisp cold and draws...pretzels on a charcoal grill. Or chestnuts.
    #18
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/10 23:45:38 (permalink)
    Like an Allstate commercial waiting to happen.
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    BpCBlake
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/11 01:09:18 (permalink)
    yeah and if someone backs into your cart they can get toasted buns.
     
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    RJT
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/11/11 12:07:22 (permalink)
    I agree with YOAman, if you have outlets to advertise it like websites, Twitter,Facebook, etc then do it. Let them advertise it and you if possible would probably help alot.
    #21
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/08 23:26:50 (permalink)
    Thought I would give an update on my first day at the tree farm.

    Things went well! Better than expected I would say....interested to hear everyone's thoughts.

    I was set up with food ready to sell by 11am. At 4pm I had sold 44 dogs. I simplified my menu a bit, offering my old fashion wieners, Polish sausage, and smoked bratwurst. I made $178 in gross cash sales, and $24 in tips, and $5 in charges for a total of $207.

    In addition, I fed about 9 people... the owners and staff for free... That part kind of sucked, but they weren't charging me anything to be there.

    My location was decent, but I might be able to set up even closer to the action tomorrow depending on the weather. I heard the staff push me hard... they mentioned me as people arrived and as they were cashing out so that was very much appreciated.

    The weather was chilly but nice, partly cloudy but no rain.

    We'll see how tomorrow goes!


    #22
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/08 23:42:28 (permalink)
    For a first day I'd say that was good.
    People need to know they can make a whole outing of it and that takes time. so unless you can make more money somewhere else I'd keep at it.
    You sold 44 how many people were there?
    Sunday is family day with the kids I think tomorrow could even be better.
    #23
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/10 13:27:18 (permalink)
    Well it's Monday.
    #24
    Tristan225
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/10 23:01:43 (permalink)
    I've been at a tree farm the last couple weekends. It's been pretty good and I would recommend it to anyone considering it for next year. Its only for a few weekends in December and business decreases every weekend as more people already have their trees. The shooters come out black Friday weekend buying the $160.00 14 foot trees and their pudgy little offspring want a dog and a hot chocolate. I had many $20+ sales feeding the whole group. Last weekend sales were about 2/3's the previous weekend. The people that buy big trees buy earlier so they can enjoy them in their house earlier. The weather SUCKED. Sat. was grey and chilly but Sunday it rained most of the day and was 33 degrees, with wind. Those crazy f-ers were still going out to hunt down the perfect tree. Problem was when they got back they wanted to pay for the tree and get IN THE WARM CAR. Next weekend I figure to be about 80 dogs total and the weekend before Christmas I probably won't bother with.
      There's been a lot of over thinking this whole thing in this thread- it's an impulse buy like it is so many other times.
    #25
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/11 20:40:39 (permalink)
    So to follow up for last Sunday...it basically sucked.  Sold 22 dogs and fed 9 people on top of that : (  The weather was colder and it was raining...I was set up closer to the action but the owner said he was only seeing about 30% of the people that he had the day before.  We all thought that we'd see a bunch of after church crowd around 1 pm, but it didn't really happen.  Also the Seahawks were having a huge day reeling off 58 pts against Arizona so perhaps that played roll.  At any rate, I'll be there one more time - this coming Sat - and that's it.  I'm bowing out of the Sunday...I'll make a note for next year that I'll give everyone a discount but not a whole free lunch...I'll give a report after next Sat...
    #26
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/12 16:56:03 (permalink)
    I wouldn't give up yet, sometimes we have to invest in our businesses. Next Sunday the sun might shine and you might miss the golden goose. I would leave Sundays decision until I knew what the weather was going to be. 9 free dogs, so you invested 20 dollars into your business, do you really want to piss them off for 20 dollars.
    You are trying to build a location, give it a chance. JMHO.
    #27
    djdawg
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    Re:Serving dogs at Xmas tree farm...thoughts? 2012/12/16 17:24:47 (permalink)
    Yesterday was my last day at the Xmas tree farm and it was slower than last Sunday....which was slow.  ugh.  13.  The weather seems to play a factor...when it's miserable out and raining I'm finding that people might still come out and get the tree but they are more likely to get it and leave.  Not sure if I'll do it again next year but we'll see......
     
    Your mileage may vary.....
    #28
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