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Tips for a Profitable Kiosk Business This Holiday Season

Setting Up a Temporary Holiday Kiosk for Your Food Business

The holidays are the perfect time to showcase your food business and get the word out about your products. One way to do this is to set up a temporary kiosk in a secondary location.

If you’re just getting started and thinking about a kiosk or cart as your primary location, first consult these resources on starting a concession business and also selling food online if you plan to do so.

Where to Set Up a Holiday Food Kiosk

The location of your temporary holiday space will depend on the size of your operation, your equipment and electrical needs, weather, foot traffic, proximity to your home or permanent storefront, and plenty of other factors. As you do your research, think about locations such as these:

- Malls. In a mall, your kiosk will be exposed to high numbers of people who are primed for holiday shopping. You’ll have to compete with others who are hawking their wares, but with your delicious food products and some tasteful packaging and gift basket displays, you’ll be able to attract some interested customers.

- Airports. Getting set up in airports can be tough and is not always profitable, but when it works out, the venture can be very rewarding. Even if not in terms of revenue, you get exposure to a wide variety of people who otherwise may never have heard of your business.

- Craft fairs. Antique malls and craft fairs cater to a specific type of shopper, and during the holiday season, they can be a great place to make gift sales and offer snacks to collectors, bargain hunters, and dealers.

- Outdoor markets and festivals. Christmas markets, although German in origin, are popular throughout the United States as well. From the east coast to the west and everywhere in between, you can usually find a market or festival looking for vendors during the holiday season.

- Strip mall or other retail parking lots. Many property managers are willing to rent out space in their parking lots if you just ask. A trailer or cart serving warm drinks and sweet treats will invite customers on their way to and from stores on a cold day.

Planning for Your Temporary Holiday Location

As you scout out possible places to expand your business this holiday season, you’ll need to think about your goals, expenses, and the needs you’ll have at the second location. Ask yourself these questions while you weigh your options:

- Is your ultimate goal to have a profitable kiosk business or to gain exposure for your brand? If it’s profits, do lots of research on how much you can expect to sell versus the costs of running a second location. If it’s exposure, airports can be a great option, but be prepared to absorb a potential loss if sales don’t perform.

- Will you need additional equipment and supplies at the secondary location, or can you use it solely as a retail display station for sales? The need for extra machines and prep space will significantly impact your costs, so think carefully about this – for at least your first year, can you get by with just transporting pre-made foods to your kiosk for display and sale?

- Will rental fees be offset by your anticipated sales? There’s always a chance that sales won’t go as planned, but be as realistic and prepared as possible. Notice who tends to frequent the mall or other locations. If mall traffic during the week is primarily seniors or moms with kids who are window shopping, will it be worth it to have products and staff at that spot all week, or will weekends be sufficient to make sales and still pay rent?

- Who will staff your kiosk? With a secondary location, you can’t be everywhere at once. Will you hire additional staff? Make sure you choose people you can trust. Additionally, be aware that not every candidate will be interested, willing, or able to work at your kiosk. Especially at airports, transportation, inconvenience, and security can all be obstacles to employment.

- What additional costs will you incur? In a mall, you might rent not only your floor space but also your kiosk or cart from the property manager. For other locations, you’ll generally need to purchase your own cart or concession trailer. This can range from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on your needs.* There will also need to be signage, merchandise displays, and a cash register or tablet equipped with a credit card reader.

If you can comfortably and confidently answer these questions, you might just be ready to take the plunge and open your holiday kiosk! For inspiration and ideas on what you might sell at your temporary location this holiday season, visit Gold Medal’s recipes.