Shipshewana On The Road
- Indoor Shows
- Good Attendance Saturdays
- Well Run
Shipshewana On The Road is a series of shows that occur every year during the months of October to April. They are hosted indoors at locations in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
Founded in 1992 by Darrell and Julie Lepper with the idea of providing an extension to their show season after the annual closing of the Shipshewana, Indiana outdoor market which runs from May through October of each year. While the outdoor market has been a favorite stop for families for many years the season is short due to its outdoor nature, long drive for many to visit and limited by the fact it is only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Because these factors many people have never gotten to experience the outdoor market. Seeing an opportunity to expand on Shipshewana namesake they setup shows across Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to bring the vendors closer to the people who were unable to visit the outdoor market. Now being oversaw by their son Greg Fountain Shipshewana On The Road continues to grow each year.
To participate in any of the fairs, festivals and craft shows within Indiana, Ohio or Michigan you will want to obtain your business license and tax ID number. The last thing you want to do is to run afoul of the government.
Indiana makes it real easy with one website to obtain it all. Simply shoot on over to INBIZ and get your licensing, tax registration and if you have employees your withholding certificate all done in one easy website. It is important to note that even if you have a license in Indiana some counties require you to file and obtain permission to conduct business within their borders. An example for this is the Covered Bridge Festival where you need to obtain a TML license from the county to conduct business within their borders.
Ohio tends to be a bit more difficult for those that are registering their business for the first time. The reason for this is that you have to go to 2 separate websites to get the vendor license you need and the business license. However, neither one is really to hard to complete.
Ohio Business Gateway – Obtain a transient vendors license. This will allow you to sell and collect taxes in any county in the State of Ohio. Create a gateway account and follow the instructions.
Ohio Business License – This is where Ohio is a pain and tricky. Sometimes searches for the information you need will seem to lead you no where. Quite frankly it is the most frustrating business license state I have seen yet and it is our home state. The page we have provided in the Ohio Business License link should help you get your license going though as it goes to a page that gives you all the links and information all in one spot.
Michigan is unlike most states when it comes to operating a business there. Not every business needs a license to operate in Michigan. In fact most small business owners only need register their business with the State of Michigan Treasurers Office. To learn more about Michigan just go to Michgan.gov/taxes and follow the directions on the page we have provided.
Shipshewana On The Road currently schedules shows in 15 communities during the months of October to April each year. You can find a full list of their shows on their website along with vendor applications. Shows fill up quickly for most of the locations, but as with all shows there can be openings that come up as vendors cancel.
Are All Show Locations Good?
This is a question most of us ask. Since Shipshewana On The Road is more of a flea market as opposed to a juried craft show the people who come to these shows tend to be looking for bargains. The success of your booth is going to depend on many factors such as product mix, pricing, location of booth, size of booth, booth layout, etc. You can see where I am going with this. The fact is that not all of their events are created equal. We have participated in shows such as Lima, Ohio at the Allen County Fairgrounds that drew a lot of people on the first day, but it seemed the only ones who were really doing well were the food vendors. Ben’s Pretzels based out of Indiana is a great example of this. Everyone loves their product and they do well at each of these shows. On the other hand the show in Birch Run, Michigan at the Expo Center seems to be a good show for most vendors.
A lot of the success of any show is the area that it is held in. Some areas draw more tourism and quite frankly tourism lends to sales. The reason for this is that most people who are on a vacation or weekend jaunt to a place that is a destination tend to want to find things to take home that they cannot find normally. In other areas people are bargain driven and even though they can find the same item they see at the flea market they will still buy because of price. So no not all show locations are created equal.
Is Shipshewana On The Road Worth The Time as a Vendor?
The best way to judge this is to try each of their shows for yourself. As a flea market it is hard to say whether your product will do well. From our experiences with our company Walnut Mill we tend to find flea markets hit or miss for us. We go out and speak to vendors throughout the show and try to get a good idea how the show is performing for them. So for example while Lima, Ohio is a break even show for us we continue to go because we look at it as a marketing opportunity for our online business. We gather emails by asking customers if they would like for us to email them our monthly newsletter and coupons. This helps us to grow our online business which is where we make most of our money, but your business approach may be different.
For many vendors the show is their only source of income. They make or break their business by the sales they generate at a show. To be honest there is no right or wrong answer to the question that is asked. However, judge the show correctly. If you can cover your expenses including product replacement, labor hours, gas, lodging and return a profit that you are happy with then the show is a success.
From our standpoint not all of their shows are worth our time. Some shows are so close to home for us that even if we break even the show is a success from a marketing standpoint. However, if a show such as Lima, Ohio were to be 150 miles from our offices the show would not normally be in our events calendar.
Some of the shows offered by Shipshewana On The Road are not for everyone. The best way to determine the worth to you is to sign up for each show and track your profitability. The shows themselves are well run. Greg and his team are super easy to work with each show. While their goals and ours as vendors are different they do want you to succeed. The problem is that not all of their shows are that great. They judge them to be successful and continue to do them because their gate receipts (yes they charge $4.00 admission) and booth fees are amazing for them. Their goal is to fill all of the booths with vendors no matter the type. This means that you can can be competing against banana box vendors as well as handmade craft vendors. Something we ask ourselves before booking a show is this: Is it a flea market or Juried craft show? Our product being handmade does amazing in craft shows and festivals, but mediocre in flea markets. If it is a flea market we look at the distance, cost of lodging, gas, time and attendance. If it is to far from our offices we normally do not book it unless we have nothing else on our schedule. Even then we weigh the show against other things we can be doing. Sometimes doing a show just to do a show is not worth the effort.
- Shipshewana On The Road
- Indiana Inbiz
- Ohio Business Gateway – Transient Vendor License
- Ohio Business License
- Michigan Business Registration
We would be glad to get your opinion. Rate the overall event and give your review from your point of view as a vendor. Remember the information you provide will help others decide if this event is right for them.
- Indoor Shows
- Good Attendance Saturdays
- Well Run
- Poor Attendance Sundays
- Many Bargain Hunters