People Watching: Vendors

As I have said in previous posts, one of the things I enjoy doing at the stadium is people watching. I’ve already shared my thoughts on watching first pitch participants each game and thinking about what they must be feeling or how nerve-wracking it can be to stand in front of a crowd and throwing a ball. It is time to discuss the next group that is good for people watching: food and beverage vendors.

In my opinion, the vendors have one of the more difficult jobs in the stadium, aside from the guys playing on the field. They spend all night walking up and down the steps of the stadium carrying cases of beer, water, soda, pretzels, and candy. Vendors are almost like the mailmen of the stadium. It can be 98° and sunny or pouring rain and they are still out walking through the stands selling food and drinks.

You can typically judge the type of crowd at the game by noticing which vendors are more popular. It is a no brainer that on education days and camp day, the cotton candy vendor is going to be popular followed closely by the vendors with popcorn and candy. On Harley Night, the vendors distributing beer can typically depend on having a decent night.

Even though the majority of evenings throughout the season are decent for the vendors, there are days when I feel bad for them and would not switch places with them for any amount of money.

I always feel bad when we might be having a slow sales night because of weather or a small crowd. We stand there and whine about going home and then I look out the window at the vendors; the people who depend on the crowd for profit even more than we do. I always feel bad for the vendors during a slow game. It’s not a secret that the vendors receive tips and sometimes the tips may equal another half of a paycheck. Unfortunately, you can only get tips if you sell your products and on a slow night, this can prove to be a difficult task.

One thing I enjoy about watching the vendors is watching how each one goes about selling their products; each vendor has his own approach. There’s the pretzel vendor who holds a pretzel high in the air as he walks around . The one snowcone vendor wears a baseball hat with a fake snowcone attached to the top of it. One of my favorite vendors I’ve seen was a beer vendor at Citizens Bank Park. He sold Stella Artois and his delivery was perfect. As he moved through the stands, he would call out “ice” “cold” and then shout “STELLA!”, clearly paying homage to the famous scene from “A Streetcar Named Desire.” It was very entertaining and immediately grabbed attention; which is important when you are moving through a large crowd trying to sell merchandise.

Confessional: If you were a vendor at a sporting event, what would you sell? How would you make yourself stand out?

While each vendor has his or her own style for vending, they all have the same goal in mind: sell as much product as you can no matter what the size of the crowd is or what the weather is. The next time you’re at a sporting event, look around and see which vendors catch your eye and which one you think has the best practice for selling his or  her products.

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