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Blow Out & Big Expenses in Douglas, Wyoming

The Gillette show worked out for us. We didn’t get rich but we barely exceeded our minimum average daily sales AND we had full RV hookups for $30 for the whole week! The drive to Douglas was pretty uneventful with the majority of the trip on an interstate (for the first time this trip).

I ordered enough material for the Wyoming State Fair and the Utah State Fair in Gillette to have them shipped here in Douglas. Estimating your materials is tough when you’ve never been to a show before. I ordered 14 bags of donut mix, chocolate, bags, and fryer cleaner that totaled over $1,000. That should carry us through both shows and have a few bags left over. I had to order more cups, lids, and straws as well. We started using a 50% recycled cup from Eco Products. I use the 16oz and the 24oz cup and they have a lid that fits both making stocking a little easier. The products are expensive but the silver lining is that the shipping is free for the volume I order. After it’s all said and done, the Eco cups are about the same as buying cups in Sam’s Club. Those cost another $450.

When we arrived in Douglas we found out that they basically canceled our spot on the midway. When I called and discussed participating in the Fair, we faxed an application and gave them a credit card for the application fee (bogus charge) and (I thought) for the booth fee of $650, camping fee of $160, and electric fee of $40- making this the most expensive show of the summer. I thought I was pretty clear when I explained that we hit the road for the season end of May and wouldn’t be able to receive mail after that date. I’ve even received emails and phone calls from them for our insurance certificate. Grrrrr…..

I don’t know if they had a cancellation or they were holding a spot for us but they had one spot open in the middle of their midway and we took it.

You might think, State Fair, pretty big deal. Not in Wyoming. The state fair here is smaller than the show we attended in Casper and marginally larger than the fair in Powell. They claim an attendance of 45,000 while Powell claims and attendance of 35,000. Casper claimed an attendance of 150,000 by comparison and we paid $400 for the whole 9 days. Powell cost $200 plus $150 for camping for 5 days. That makes the State Fair about 200% more expensive than any other show we’ve attended for the attendance.

Here’s the rub. We travel all this way, we have to pay in advance, and when we finally get here- they have 3 mini donut vendors including us. Who thought this was a good idea. The gal in charge of food concessions said they did not offer exclusivity, which is a sorry excuse for not putting in the effort to make sure you have a well rounded vendor selection.

It also shows the fair is more interested in selling real estate to ‘who ever’ is willing to pay than to provide a well rounded show with a variety of attractions for their attendees.

I’m fairly disgusted and have to work hard at holding my tongue (a long term problem). We’re here now, we have nothing else scheduled and there’s fat chance on finding a better show at such a late date. We might as well bight the bullet so I forked over some cold hard cash to pay for the spot because they mailed the contract 6 weeks after we contacted them and we were already on the road and never received it.

The fair surprisingly let us drop our trailer in the campground for free because they want $25 a day extra for us to stay before the show opens, $20 for an additional parking pass, $100 for an onsite vehicle pass, and $10 for stupid looks (I made the last one up). But, in essence, it sure feels like they nickle and dime you to death.

We pressed onto Casper and I picked up a new heat lamp for $150, some more sugar, groceries, the best box wine we can afford, and a 12 pack of Miller Lite (tastes great, less filling). We spent two nights in the Walmart parking lot and I watched THREE Redbox DVD’s (this is my mini vacation from selling mini-donuts).

While in Casper I ordered a replacement GPS at a great price of $600 (a combo marine/road/XM radio/XM weather GPS versus a road GPS for $200). We’ve got some driving to do and since we are spending the next 11 days in Douglas we decided to have it shipped there.

Today we started back to Douglas and 11 miles from the exit one of the rear tires blew out.

Normally the manufacturer doesn’t want some ignorant motorhome operator to change the tire and chance crushing themselves under a thirty four foot long brick of fiberglass, wood, steel, and various appliances. They don’t even include a jack or lug nut wrench with the motorhome. I had to hunt down one big enough in Salt Lake City in June as a precaution before we hit the wild open plains of Wyoming where there is lot’s of nothing with nothing in between. Glad I did.

When a tire goes out on the dual axle- it always seems to be the inside tire. I don’t know why. That means you have to change TWO tires.

I had to pull out the 6 ton jack, and the lug nut wrench amidst a compartment full of spare parts, compressor, a 100′ hose, extra oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and bits and pieces saved for that once in a lifetime occasion which never seems to come around.

I used the levelling jacks (intermittent but it worked today) to take most of the load off the axle and I was able to use the 6 ton bottle jack to get the tires off the ground.

About that time a Wyoming State trooper stopped with flashing lights and everything. It was a welcome appearance. They really don’t have much of a shoulder on the roads around here and I needed to pull out the spare on the traffic side. The officer was helpful and put out little cones and kept me from getting squished like a bug from the flow of tractor trailers coming down the road.

The spare was old and cracked. With no other option I put it on the outside with the better tire on the inside. I got everything back together and we started off for the last 11 miles toward Douglas at 50 miles per hour.

Emma James slept the whole time. She never woke once.

I found a tire store in Douglas (one of two) and the mechanic took a look at the other dual tire and said I should replace the inner tire on the other side while I was at it and he had to order the tires to be installed Friday. Surprisingly the prices are on par with what we paid in Tucson at $150’ish per tire for a total of $450.

I’m not in the best mood, with 3 mini donut vendors chances are good we’re not going to make our money on the donuts. We’re working on highlighting the frozen drinks to try and offset the loss from the competition. The good news, it’s been REAL hot during the day and we are the only frozen drink vendor (so they said).

So far we’ve invested about $3,500 in supplies, fees, and repairs to get to this show and we were hoping to gross $4,000 in sales for the total 8 days and that was before we found out there is two other donut vendors. I thought about skimping on the full RV hookups but it’s been awfully hot during the day and our one full day in Casper without AC we basically tried to stay as motionless as possible while sweating rivers inside the motorhome. It would be a hard 8 days on Hil and the girls without the RV hookups. The show runs from 10am to 10pm everyday and will likely run later with the carnival running until midnight. That means 8 days of 14 plus hour days for me. What’s $160 more bucks?

So despite the grey cloud over my brain, we’re trying to be optimistic about the next 10 days. We don’t have anything else scheduled until the Utah State Fair and I might be able to find a fill in event somewhere along the way. The last one day event we found in Lander, we grossed over $1,000 in a day. A few of those would offset the unexpected expenses we been saddled with here in Douglas.

One bit of good news, The food vendor manager from the Utah State Fair is letting us serve frozen lemonades. They wouldn’t let us serve the Brain Freeze drinks (they actually restrict duplicate vendors in their State Fair) but lemonades are pretty common among food vendors. The good news is that we can still use the majority of flavors and market flavored lemonades including Strawberry, Rasberry, Cherry, Mango, Peach, and Lime. This should help boost the sales during the hottest part of the day when the donut sales are slack.

Well… thank goodness for box wine and cold Miller Lite (tastes great, less filling).

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

3 comments to Blow Out & Big Expenses in Douglas, Wyoming

  • Sorry to hear about your troubles JC. Just keep the big picture in mine and remember that you have six months on the Sea of Cortez coming up!

    I was glad to read you are using 50% recycled cups for your frozen drinks now. Good on ya! I am in Vermont for a few days for work and they have a lot of “plastic” cups that are made from vegetable products and will therefore bio-degrade, hope more places start to come around to this. Way too much plastic waste in the Ocean.

  • joey presnell

    JC,

    It sounds like you are having as much as fun as I am and good luck- at least you have your health and your boat is in a prime location. I wish mine was there but I’m not able to sail my boat with the shape my back is in.

    I want to leave Gtown, SC so bad. Even if I had a job, my back wouldn’t let me work and it is HOT here. I’m ready for a change. I have filed for disability, which you know how that goes. But we’ll make it. I sure don’t want to move to my sisters farm up state. I want to stay on the boat. Just like your tires on the motorhome, I had my 2 hp four stroke nissan dinghy engine stolen a month ago so now I’m rowing to the dock and back. It is tough and I take medicine for the pain. I try to just take it easy now but I don’t let it bring me down.

    Y’all be careful and good luck,

    Joey S/V JENNY LYNN

  • Hi! I stumbled upon your very interesting blog today. Not sure if you’re busy on September 11 – just wanted to drop a note about our Festival. I have NO snack vendors! BBQ, Mexican, Filipino, Hot Dog and the Fire Dept fundraiser lunch…. but I’ve had a tough time finding Kettle Korn, funnel cakes, donuts, cotton candy, etc. Check out the website, and email/call if you’re interested: http://www.deaverfestival.com Otherwise, I’ll keep checking in on your blog. Safe travels! Rose