Focus on simplicity for everything including concession stand. Consumers slow down when presented with many choices. Variation might be the spice of life, but it can also create a difficult concession stand. Focus on one or two meals of meals, no more than five drinks, one or two healthy products and three to five snack items.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. Many times people don’t know what they want until you show them” – Steve Jobs Business Week May 12, 1998
Now I would not want to work for Steve Jobs or even spend time with him, but he moved a lot of product. So I figure why make life complicated? Don’t spend your time making hot dogs, pizza, sloppy joes, going tacos, stuffed baked potatoes and gyros just to get some of them left over. It’s too complicated.
Beverages – This is used for the most profitable area. Back in the days of fountain soda as the cup cost more than the liquid inside it. Many colleges no longer have soda fountains, and few youth programs have access to them. Today it is more common for people to donate cases of soda, water or sports drink and resell the individual containers for $ 1 to $ 2. I see events marking water and sodas for $ 1 and sports drinks at $ 1.50. Great, now you need to make changes and handle quarters on half of your transactions. Do this and make your like easier. The water is the healthiest item, and if they want to pay extra for sugar water, let them. If donated items, the margin is the same at $ 1 for all items.
Water $ 1
Soda $ 1
Sports drink $ 1 or $ 2, not $ 1.25, $ 1.50 or $ 1.75.
Coffee $ 1
Meal – If someone is hungry and trapped, which means they can’t drive home or for a restaurant, you can sell them pita bread and hot sauce for $ 2 and they’ll be happy. Their goal is to fight, watch wrestling or coach wrestling. If they were here for food, they would be somewhere else. Pick one or two items and lean against one.
Sloppy Joe $ 2 or $ 3 – Standard Price.
Pizza $ 2 – take and bake will have a higher margin than delivery
Pizza can be easy.
Hot dog $ 2 – Various meat tubes floating in green water are proof that onlookers want to eat something.
Ham and cheese on a bowl $ 1 or $ 2 – This was a staple when I was a kid. They popped it in a microwave for ten seconds and I got a delicious treat. I recommend saving labor and using bigger bun to charge $ 2.
Bowl of chili $ 2 or $ 3 – Cheap, simple and not ordinary.
Loaded Baked Potato $ 2 or $ 3 – Cheap, Simple and Unusual. I saw a lot of left overs about this. It takes 3 hours to bake 70 potatoes, so you can’t be in a hurry.
Walking taco $ 2 or $ 3 – Cheap, but a little more complicated at the assembly site
Healthy snack – This is an area where I would do something more complicated. Why, because these are kids, and nutrition is closely tied to wrestling at all levels, especially youth wrestling. I think every youth tournament should offer a healthy opportunity. This is not to say you should offer a salad bar, a yogurt and a fruit option. Choose one or two of the points below.
Grapes Zipper Bag $ 1 – Buy in bulk from grocery or stock like Costco or Sams, wash and bag the day before.
Grapes are a healthy snack for a wrestling tournament.
Individual bags of baby carrots $ 1 – Packed. You rely on Mom to help get these purchased, they don’t go fast. Take a bottle of ranch dressing with spice cups to help get these sold.
Bananas $ 1 – Self-wrapped, healthy and without work. What more can you ask for.
Apples $ 1 – Wash them and put a sign that says so.
Oranges $ 1 – I’m having trouble buying oranges for home. It looks like a crap shoot to get the sweet juicy or the dry yucky ones. Also, shouting an orange with a hand that just struggled can still be yuckiery.
Just Plain Snacks – Chips, cookies, candy bars, hot liquid cheese, gummy stuff, donuts, licorice, or so you call it. Unless you also get people to donate these items, these are your lowest-margin items. Don’t give them too much time. Get a chocolate item, a sugar item and a bag of chips. If someone dies for a Snickers and all you have is an almond Hershey bar, do you think he goes away without spending money? No, he gets a bowl of chili with a soda and thinks he’s healthy not to buy the Hershey bar. You get $ 1 ahead of Chili versus Snickers line. Choose three to five of these items. Remember to keep it simple.
Chocolate-based Candy Bar $ 1 – Staple snack food.
Sugar Candy $ 1 – Skittles, Starburst, Smarties …
Cookie $ 1 – This is a snack, don’t get oatmeal raisin unless you want a lot of oatmeal raisin cookies in your house.
Donut $ 1 – It’s usually morning so these can sell well. They look like work to me and picking up the day is complicated.
Chips $ 1 – Go simple, just chips. I often buy nachos with the hot liquid cheese, but I know it is bad for me. From the sales side, it looks like hassle.
Have a box ready for the day. Remember everything you include, which is not an even dollar amount, slows down the process, forcing people to do mental math and increasing the chance of you running out of nickel. Also, think about the cleanup process in the gym when considering pop corn.