Outside Lands 2023 Debrief

*OSL=Outside Lands.

**NOTE: all numbers are based on POS transactions only and exclude venmo and cash sales. POS transactions were 93.61% of OSL sales.

About Vending Outside Lands:

Cost: $3,000

What you get: a covered 8x8 booth space, a box in a shipping container that is locked every night, 3 working passes to the festival daily, and free parking for the weekend. There was no electricity or outlets but we did get access to wifi.

Location: San Francisco, CA. Tent is located on the polo fields between the main stage and the rest of the festival grounds.

Outside Lands brings in 40,000-60,000 people daily, with the full weekend seeing about 220,000 people total. Some attendees come all three days, while some only come one or two days, meaning you can get a fresh batch of customers each day. 

As I noted last year, booth location makes a huge difference. I emailed the person in charge before we got our booth assignments basically begging for a booth on the outside edge. I linked my blog post on it too so they could see how much I cared about this specifically. I NEVER thought it would work -- honestly I was a little drunk on a sunday afternoon when I sent the email thinking "why the hell not". BUT IT WORKED! I got the location I wanted and when I thanked the person in charge, they said "I saw your email and thought 'she did math, she deserves it'". So this is our lesson to be *extra* even if you feel cringe about it because it just may work out for you! Yay!

There were half as many vendors this year as in years past. I definitely think this contributed to the increased sales we saw. We were also located directly next to the OSL merch tent which was ALWAYS busy. Unsure if this was a plus or a minus for us? It may have had an impact on clothing sales.

All highlighted numbers are ones that I increased from last year. More on the impact of that later on.

The proportion of revenue generated by each category was very similar to last year, despite making $10k more this year.

Stickers continue to be my highest grossing category, which is crazy since it is the lowest price point item (but that is likely also why it’s a best seller)

The only category that saw a decrease in sales was croc charms. The only thing I can think to attribute that to is that I had fewer options and we saw way fewer children this year. The colors of my booth attract a lot of little eyes and croc charms are usually what they can convince their parents to buy for them, but we just didn’t see that many kids this year.

Hair claws really carried the increase we saw in the "hats and hair" category. I had 2 more hat designs and 5 or 6 more hair claw choices than last year. I unfortunately did sell out of the very small stock I had of the hot dog hair claw almost immediately. The same was true for my “overwhelmed” baseball hat, so I do think that had an impact on the hats category. I had the Faire summer market a few weeks before OSL and did not think to reserve stock for OSL/ordering more to prep for both events. Taking note for next year.

I sold fewer pieces of clothing than in '22 but I made way more money. Last year, I sold a TON of clearance shirts at $20 which was just way too low. I had fewer shirt options this year, and more sweatshirt options (higher price point item). I did expect sweatshirts to do better, but I was out of stock of some sizes and we were located right next to the OSL merch tent, either of which may have contributed to this.

I had 7 more necklace designs this year than last year. The "feral" pearl necklace carried, with 22 units sold, followed by 17 "unhinged" necklaces. All others sold less than 10 units.

Fancy lighters carried the category this year. I had very few of my best selling lighter designs in stock and they sold out by the second day, leaving people with only 2 design options on the regular lighters. This definitely impacted revenue potential. The fancy lighters sold out early on day 3, despite increasing the price by $15. Next year I will make even MORE in preparation, as they always seem to be a massive hit.

I’m not sure if it’s because of how different the display structures are or what, but a lot of people did not understand that both sides of the booth were mine. People on the sticker wall side didn’t know where to check out, and people on the table side were entirely unaware that there was more around the corner. This is an issue I occasionally run into at shows, but it was definitely exacerbated by…intoxicants. I had people bringing up vintage clothes from neighboring booths asking if they should pay with me - at my bright pink booth with its own clothing rack. The most distinct thing I tend to forget about music festivals is that you need to spoon feed the customers more than even at a regular craft show. Make signs explaining as much as you can. Label prices as clearly as possible (they will still ask). Honestly I should have literally had a huge sign that said “more around the corner” and “check out here”.

There were no brand signs or dividers between booths this year - something I’m convinced had an impact (or at least I want the organizers to think had an impact because I absolutely hate when they skimp and don’t give us backdrops to work off of).

I chose to have my booth facing outwards instead of towards the aisle of the marketplace. I wanted to be able to draw people in as they were walking by the tent as this was a highly trafficked area, but there is a chance that this led to increased confusion on where to check out/where my booth started and ended. 

On the third day of the festival, another vendor let us know that they had seen people shopping my sticker wall and then just walking away without paying. I get asked a lot about how I deal with theft and I never noticed it to be an issue in the same way that it was this year. Music festivals are NOT the place to trust in humanity because people are inebriated, confused, running to their friends, etc. There’s just so much increasing the risk factors. Last year I was able to see people overtop of my pegboard sticker wall, so having eyes on them had to help. Stickers of course are the least expensive item they could have been stealing, but it is a punch to the gut to know that it was happening. I was SO close to having a panic attack and mentally beating myself up over it, but I read my little affirmations and was able to power forward. Once we split up the pegboards and put my chair in between to check people out, we were golden. I just wish we had done it sooner of course. And even with theft, stickers were STILL the best selling category, so this just means that we will hit a new record next year when we prevent theft from the start.

I had a LOT more sticker designs this year which absolutely impacted sales. Having the initial wall setup also made restocking tricky. The sticker wall was pretty much always crowded so there were definitely times where several designs were out of stock for a good chunk of time. 

One thing I may implement in the future is having a little sign somewhere or even behind each product that says “please let us know if you took the last one so we can restock”. Why not have the customer help you out here.

DO: take a photo of your display before the day starts to easily identify what needs to be restocked. Do not try to do it from memory.

FORGOT: display each pin at the top on a board for improved visibility and so people can ask about specific pins if we hadn't restocked while busy.

I had 6 more enamel pins this year, but I also sold out of some designs.

I thought I was sold out of the "please be nice to me" pin so I left it empty for a good chunk of the time. This was my top selling pin, with 27 units being sold. We would have sold even more had they been in stock the entire time. I had a handful of nurses say they were buying it to put on their work lanyard. 

The next highest selling pin was the hot doggy dog one, with 20 units sold. 

While there is always room for improvement, behind the booth was very nicely organized this time thanks to these buildable wire shelves I had. I am planning on getting more so that I can have all of the inventory organized this way.

The free sticker/business card combo continues to be a hit. I ordered these from stickerapp and they cost me just shy of 11 cents a piece. We went through about 1,500 of them. 

Previously, offering a “free gift” for following me on instagram gets me a ton of new followers. We realllyyyy pushed them this time as I thought I may be able to reach 100k followers by the end of the weekend. Unfortunately we only gained about 300, but considering the freebie stickers were also free to me (refunded after printing issues) that’s not a bad trade, and that’s twice as many as we gained last year. A lot of people who came up to the booth were already following me from one of the many other events I have done in the city – which is still a really cool feeling!

Things that surprised me:

  • I was really surprised that the smell-proof stash bags did so poorly (only 2 sold). San Francisco is a very weed-friendly place and there is even a “Grasslands” area at OSL. I thought this would be the audience for it. I did have someone from a cannabis company come over because they heard that I sold these and their company was looking to get into selling them/collabing with me on one (although I haven't heard from them...YET) I AGAIN did not make it out to Grasslands this year but I didn’t even think about the traffic that they could have been sending my way. Next year they will be my first stop and I will give all of the workers free stickers to put on whatever is visible in exchange for telling everyone where they got it.
  • Sunglasses chains sold out! I was worried that people wouldn't understand what they were, but they totally sold themselves!
  • TIPS!!! TURN ON YOUR TIPS!!! I don’t care if it makes you uncomfy, just do it. We made an extra $500 from tips (in the last day and a half) and the worst thing that happened was just having to repeat yourself to the customer because they weren’t paying attention. I set the options to 10%, 15% and 20% as most of the transactions were small ($10 sticker bundle). Not sure what to say? Try:
    • “Tips are super appreciated if you wanna tip! And then you can tap or insert your card” and be sweet & smile (shoutout to @the_urban_kawaii for the script)
  • I took a LOT less pictures this year. I don't exactly know what this means? Luckily I assigned one of my workers the task of content demon. They filmed people browsing the booth, me ringing them up, people wearing my products, etc. At the end of the weekend I made a shared album for everyone (even people from other booths) to dump their photos into. This is also helpful for when you forget to take videos of generic festival content or aren't able to make it to some shows.

Accurate assumptions I made:

  • While socks do not move that much on my website, I knew that there would be girlies who thought a music festival would be the best place to break in their new shoes who would be desperate for thick cushy socks. This was correct. The very first item we sold was a pair of socks to someone who had made the mistake of wearing canvas shoes in the rain. I’m pretty sure I was the only one selling socks. Nailed it.
  • Sticker bundles were, as always, a hit -- next year I will be adding enamel pin and necklace bundles!
  • Having hats in two spots worked great! I had some on the table, and then some hanging from the pole next to my booth for added visibility. For my new vertical hat display, check this video.
  • SF-themed products are a must! My “Gay Area” sticker was a best seller. The booth next to us (Indigo Vintage) was selling things that said “SF is for lovers” and they sold sooooo much. We aren’t allowed to sell things that say Outside Lands, but this is a good alternative that still provides the ~souvenir~ feeling for the customer. 
  • Any time there was a cash sale, I rung it up in my POS and just took a screenshot of the items. It's annoying to check out with cash on the Shopify POS because it wants you to collect tax and who tf carries exact change? It's just annoying. BUT I still want to collect the data for obvious reasons, and this is the least annoying way I've found to do it. I then go through later and record what items sold.
    • UPDATE! Someone messaged me that they create a customer named "Cash" in shopify and set them as tax-free and processes cash sales this way -- GENIUS

New Additions I Loved:

  • Folding Director's Chair - please! for the love of god! sit down! Plus this one has side tables that make for a great checkout station. Maybe try to find one that doesn't have weird cup holders though?
  • Clamp Lights - these were plenty bright, come in a 2 pack, and can be adjusted a good bit. 
  • Liquid IV - literal life saver.

For more on my go-to craft show displays, check out my Craft Show How To blog.

If any of this has been helpful to you, please consider leaving me a tip so that I can continue to provide these resources FOR FREE and never gatekeep!

Back to blog

Leave a comment