In today’s economy, people are cutting back. Couples are going to restaurants less and families are staying close to home for vacations. But St. Joseph, Michigan, Lion Vern Breuker has a not-so-secret method to getting customers to open their wallets. By staying organized, delegating tasks and encouraging participation, the 2009 Arts and Craft Fair generated a profit of nearly $10,000 for the St. Joseph Lions Club. That’s an increase of 30 percent from the previous year. The money played an important role in sprucing up the local beach in May, when Lions repainted pavilions, grills and playgrounds to get the area ready for community use. The club collects an average of $60 from exhibitors for each booth. Lions ask for a $1 donation at the door and they also hold a raffle with donated items, host a bake sale and provide concession stand food throughout the day-long event as other sources of revenue. Organize Breuker, a CPA who has been a Lion since 1981, said the craft show has evolved during the six years the club has coordinated it. The year-round planning for the expo makes the fieldhouse at the local high school the place to shop come the first Saturday in November. “We have a committee and we start about August and meet about once a month until the month before and then we meet more frequently,” Breuker said. “That might involve attending other craft shows, interviewing other crafters. We try to select the best we can.” And with space for 118 arts and craft booths, Breuker said he has to be selective. After the 2009 show, 36 crafters immediately committed to the following year. The key to this retention, Breuker said, is that his club translates the We Serve motto to the expo, making sure Lions are on hand to move exhibitors’ possessions from their car to the booth. They also have an exit survey, asking each booth what they liked about the show and what they would like to do differently next year. “We constantly get comments that it is the most well-organized craft show that they’ve been to, Breuker said. “It’s a meaningful compliment to me and our group.” Delegate Certainly, Breuker couldn’t do it all himself. Breuker has a board of nine people to assist him in the undertaking. “I put someone in charge of concessions and it’s an area I don’t have to worry about for the whole session,” Breuker said. By delegating and assigning tasks such as unloading supplies, setting up the facility and coordinating the raffle, Breuker can make himself available for anything that might come up. Participate The craft show takes three days to set up and coordinate. In 2009, 51 out of 65 Lions assisted in some way. The Lions also accept a helping hand from anyone including the local football team, students that need community service hours or family members who are available. “We call it a mandatory participation but that’s only as good as everyone’s availability,” Breuker said. “We try to get everybody involved.”
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