Festival Shops – Dream-Life, total freedom or just hard work?

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It’s the dream of a free self-determined life full of creativity, that inspires some people to open a festival stall. But how does reality look like? Shop owners speak about their ups and downs.

It’s 10 am. The sun is already burning on the roof of the van behind the food stall after just a few hours of sleep. A careful look outside: It’s still not happening much on the festival grounds, But the first or last people are already or still dancing to relaxed morning sounds on the dance floor. Showers? To far. Long queues. Or non-existent. A canister of clear water behind the van will do. Because the food has to get prepared soon. At 11 o’clock the first people will ask for food. Hopefully. Every festival is different.

Creating own psychedelic art

Zoë and Stefan from the Netherlands have already opened their shop InnerMind. They are selling selfmade UV Blacklight Reactive polymer clay (Fimo) art and jewellery such as Mushroom pendants, bracelets, dread beads as well as clothes. Zoë tells, why she has started the business in 2003: „I always loved festivals and I didn’t enjoy working in an office environment, where I didn’t get nothing out of it except money to pay my bills.“ Working among people, that enjoy life, to create, to sell her own art and make people happy with that was, what she expected and got from the shop life. Since 2012, Zoë can make a living out of her shop.

But the festival life is more than to see happy people, sun shining, listening to, enjoy vibes and getting connected. „Risks are that your product will not sell, because it is not in demand or there is an overkill of shops. Also, you have no control over weather conditions, the amount of people that will actually be there at the festival.“ Their worst experience: „Driving seven hours and setting up the whole shop, that takes almost a whole day. Then a big storm destroyed part of the stand. And when the festival finally should take place, we heard that it was cancelled so we could pack everything up and go home again.“

Festival Shop impression
Festival Shop impression by allnighters.net

Exciting encounters close to the music

Dominik and Janina from Germany have been taking part with her vegan and vegetarian Indian food stall Shiva Garden in almost 30 festivals since 2016. „We wanted to change our life and to start something completely new, live freedom instead of daily job routine and connect that with our love to Goa“, Dominik says. „We had moments of absolute joy, when we got the first positive feedback about our food.“ So it almost didn’t matter anymore, that they miscalculated their first groceries and lived for weeks between chickpeas and rice sacks. In the summer, they are often on the road for weeks and experience exciting encounters close to the music.

They say about the difficult parts of the business: „It’s hard work to build up the shop – in the heat of the sun, in heavy rain or strong wind. And when you arrive at a festival realizing immediately, that there are too many shops against all promises, it’s hard to stay positive.“ Their worst experience: In heavy rain, they got stuck on a muddy festival ground, worried not to get in time to the following event. Financially, it is sometimes a life with compromises for them. But what they don’t want to miss: The moments of joy, the feeling of togetherness, excitement, freedom and new friends from all over the world.

Living wild and free

„Having fun in a team, with colleagues and customers, compliments from customers, the feeling of being wild and free and helping each other“, Nadia points out the best moments of the shop life. Since 2005, Nadia and Burkhard from Germany have been selling falafel on festivals. Their shop name: Torfnarren. The reasons for their start: Taking challenges independently within a team, working hard for a few days and having leisure time afterwards, not hanging around in an office from 9 to 5. And being within the own scene. „I don’t want to change anything and see most of my romantic visions to have come true“, Nadia says.
Having a second source of income helps them not to feel threatened in their existence, if a festival doesn’t work well. „But this autumn, my second source of income crashed. And because the last summer was a whole catastrophe, it’s now getting extremely difficult“, Nadia says. Her worst festival experiences: „One organizer forgot, that he had booked us. Vandalism at night. Once, I forgot to soak the chickpeas in water.“ Other problems can be: A high number of stalls, bad hygienic conditions, dubious or confused organizers. „They should realize, that the shop owners are no sharks getting rich with their work. Shops are the face of each festival. And if we all create it together and understand ourselves as little interlocking parts of the whole, everything will work better and with love.“

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