Fair Food, Food Carts, and the Food Concession Business

 The Author - Barb Fitzgerald

Starting in 1984, Barb Fitzgerald turned her lifelong desire to be self-employed into a career in the food concession business. Nearly three decades later, using techniques outlined in her books and seminar, she continues to sell food at hundreds of the best attended events and venues in the Northwest. In 1994 Barb was honored to become involved in the administrative and regulatory process by co-chairing a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board as representative for the food concession industry. It was that experience that inspired her to found Northwest Vendor’s Network Association. Her dedicated entrepreneurship, accumulated experience in concession development, management and marketing, and her passion for the concession business qualifies her as a concession operations authority.

OK, that’s the official bio. Now here’s the rest of the story....

I fell into concessions after spending many years kicking around and experimenting with nearly any idea that might finally provide me the freedom of self-employment. At the time I was a young, single parent with a minimum wage job. In the evening I baked bread to sell to local restaurants. This small venture brought me to the idea of selling my bread at the local county fair. Though the fair venture was financially unsuccessful it was a turning point in my life. After spending five days at the fair watching the food booths there make more money than I could imagine, I knew that selling food from a food booth was finally the opportunity I had been looking for.

One month later I bought my first food booth. One year later I quit my job. Though it took a short handful of years for my food booth to produce an income that would adequately support my small family, those years were not wasted. I was learning the ropes, had established myself with a seasonal line-up of good events, and most importantly, I came to understand what made the difference between vendors who make money and vendors who don't. Although I had quickly acquired the critical "marketing on the midway mind-set", there were three things holding me back. I was under capitalized, had inadequate help, and, as a single parent, had responsibilities that placed limitations on my venture. Over time my concession found a healthy balance between operating within my limitations and producing a healthy income.

I spend the winter months on my 7 acre historic farmstead where I enjoy gardening and hanging out with my dog, Kenzie. I also spend the winter developing my publishing company, Carnival Press, which I hope someday will support me in my old age..

Your Truly in 1984, proud of her first food booth



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