Imagine a life on the road, traveling to a different music festival each week to sell clothing or delicious food to genuinely happy attendees. For some, this sounds like a dream job. Working in an environment where people express themselves and enjoy art while connecting deeply with complete strangers is pretty rare in the “real world”.
To learn more about the inner workings of festival vending, I interviewed a two year vending veteran: Devon Sedrick. He’s a Boise native who has traveled to different music festivals across the United States selling clothes and food with his best friend Taylor. He began his vending career in 2014 after meeting his boss and booth owner, Molly, at Paradiso. They became close friends, so Molly offered Devon and Taylor the opportunity to vend her booth at Sasquatch. After that, they were on the road for 20 weeks working different festivals together.
DS: All kinds of music festivals! Electronic, country, blues, jam band festivals, and specific artist shows like The Grateful Dead, Fish, and Dave Mathews.
BA: Do you typically sell clothing or food? Which one do you like more, and why?
DS: I’ve done both, but I sell clothes more often than food. I really enjoy clothing because it’s more relaxed and I get to connect and have meaningful conversations with my customers. Food also has its perks though because it’s super high energy and I get to dance and play the whole time!
BA: You went to twenty-six festivals last summer! Which were your top 3 and why?
DS: There wasn’t a festival that I really fell in love with last year, but if I had to pick three of my favorites I’d choose:
- Electric Forest because the overall production is huge, the venue is beautiful, and it was a high-selling festival for us, which is always nice. Our vendor neighbors were awesome and we made some great friends!
- Euphoria Music Festival is my second favorite because the attendees were nice and all the vendors were fantastic!
- Mountain Jam Music Festival was also great because of the location. It was in the mountains of upstate New York, which was very green and lush. I got to meet a lot of the artists and musicians that played there and one of them bought us a sweet hotel room for a night!
DS: Lack of sleep because we work at least 16 hours a day. Weather conditions can also be pretty crazy; wind storms have blown our entire booth away and rain storms can flood the booth and ruin merch. The EZ Up is our only form of shelter and we have to be on our toes to keep it staked down!
BA: What do you enjoy most about vending?
DS: I love how open people are at festivals, and I get to have deep conversations with other vendors and patrons. It’s a really good space for people to talk about their lives and things that they’re going through. I enjoy listening and offering helpful advice.
BA: What’s the craziest thing that you’ve experienced while vending?
DS: One of our vendor neighbors had $17,000 stolen, which was pretty stressful to deal with. I’ve also seen people do some crazy stuff and hurt themselves from partying too hard.
DS: We (Taylor and I) usually take turns seeing the acts that we want to. If it’s an artist that we both want to see, we’ll just close the booth and go for it! I can’t see every act that sparks my interest, but it’s usually pretty easy to have other vendors watch the booth if necessary.
BA: How do you prepare for festival season during the off-months?
DS: We design some clothing ourselves, and it’s made in San Francisco. We also work with patternmakers and sewers for different items. I also go to Thailand and Central America to buy clothes from artisans, and that merch is brought back and sold at festivals.
BA: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring festival vendor, what would it be?
DS: Go for it! You can definitely do it, but take time to take care of yourself. Sleep, feed, and nurse yourself properly.
BA: What’s the most important lesson that music festival vending has taught you?
DS: It’s taught me that any kind of career or job that you want, you can have. It’s all possible. If you want to do it, you can do it. Even if you think it’s impossible, just put forth some effort and things will fall into place.