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Dante
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NYC / Los Angeles
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Hey .. Its my first post!

I do ALOT of balloon work. After my usual weekend gigs, I bring my balloon rig out to the downtown area (near movie theatres, Starbucks, etc.) of a nice neighborhood and work on my skills. When choosing locations, pick an area you are looking to book gigs in. This effectively allows you to target a market.

I consider busking paid practice. Its also a great place to try out new material.

The balloons I do tend to be more detailed. As a result they do take a little more time than your typical 1 balloon poodle. However, Its not uncommon for me to get a $20 tip for a sculpture.

I love busking. I hate charging for the balloons. I'm sure I make more by leaving the price up to the buyer. In addition, large families or lower income families still get to participate.
Wow ... I was about to start ranting about the deeper philosophical ramifications of busking in society ... but perhaps that's for anew thread?

In any case, I book a lot of jobs this way. I hand out a lot of cards, make new contacts, and keep fresh on my designs. I NEVER pay to work. Most areas I've been in allow performers to be just about anywhere public providing they do not charge for the balloons, cause a problem, or interfere with anything. Of course, CHECK YOUR LOCAL LAWS!!!

Best of luck!!!

Dante
JoeJoe
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Dante, welcome to the Café! It's good to have you here. Smile

Very impressive balloon work at your site ... can I ask how long you spend making someone a balloon? I try to keep it to under 2 minutes, and even then I can easily get a longer line than I desire. If there is no line, I offer to show them a magic trick to hold them as long as possible in an effort to keep a line going. If they get in line, they almost always tip - if I have to call them over, they are more likely to not tip.

I agree ... you defidently make more leaving the price up to the buyer - I don't like touching the money at all, just telling them to drop it in the bucket. I get a lot of fives for my one balloon poodles (although I find poodles have too many small twists, so I discourage them). Sure some people don't tip, but the ones that overtip more than make up for it. Plus, the more balloons out there there the greater the demand - if I make less per balloon, I make up for it in volume.

I try not to notice them reaching for money, and after they put the rest of their money away and before it's dropped in the bucket ... bring my attention to them and say ... "now you didn't have to do that, I said they were free". This gets startled looks from the ones that feel I'm just trying to hustle them, and lightens them up. It also triggers embarasment on the ones that drop a dime or quarter in the bucket - lol.

When I'm doing balloons, I really don't mind giving them away but I've noticed I spend more time on the ones that don't tip then the ones that do, the ones that don't tip are the families of six and they always request the ones that take the longest that arn't on my list. I try to acomadate them but it's frustrating ... especially when there is another kid in line holding a dollar.

I get a lot of requests for bookings also, but most of them tend to be kids parties which I don't like doing. I'm contracted 7 days a week already so I myself don't get to accept many of these bookings. But yes, it would be a great way to drum up extra work.

Another question, do you blow them up by mouth? Or use a pump? My blood pressure jumps 10 points by mouth, but the hand pump slows me down.

JoeJoe
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Paddy
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Milford OH
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Quote:
...Another question, do you blow them up by mouth? Or use a pump? My blood pressure jumps 10 points by mouth, but the hand pump slows me down.
JoeJoe


JoeJoe, I do a lot of balloons also, (I buy about 60 to 70 bags a month) I also do not mouth inflate. About 4 years ago I bought a "Big Foot" pump from Masters Entertainment. It is light weight, I carry it with me all over restaurants and busking at festivals, it will fill a 260 with one stroke. It is also indestrucable. They are made in Dayton OH and have a fantastic warranty. Call Them at 937-294-6952
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ed rhodes
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We have a flea market here in Providence (actually, we have three or four, but I only go to the nearby one). There was a clown outside with a compressor, making and selling multi-balloon animals. (I used to know his name... escapes me now.)

Also, they had a "block party" to kick off last week's WaterFire. Bruce Kavler (who's a big muck-a-muck in the RI magic scene) was doing multi-animals balloons and giving them away. Knowing Bruce is certainly not a fool, I have to assume the block party people were paying him a nice chunk of change for being there.

He did recognizable cartoon characters as well as the "bird on a ring," "monkey in a tree" sort of thing. He also had a compressor strapped to his side.
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
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Dante
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Hey JoeJoe,

I do inflate by mouth. I do so for a number of reasons:
1. Speed
2. Performance Value
3. Soft Warm Air
4. Precision & Control of Air Volume

Its not for everyone, but I swear by it. I usually will go through a few hundred balloons in a day. The only time I don't inflate by mouth is when I am feeling ill.

In regards to time. I try not to do anything basic. Even my swords are fancier than most. However, speed is always a factor. When the line is short, I go detail crazy. When the line grows ... I tend to scale back on the extras. The actual construction is part of the entertainment. I interact with the "client" as I go. Their input affects the finished sculpture.

~~Dante~~

Thanks for the welcome! Smile

~~Dante~~
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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There was a time that I used to make a lot of balloons as well. I went ahead and bought a small air compressor. We always had electricity where we set up, so I just plugged it in and used one of those small hand held guns to blow the balloons up. It worked like a charm, cut down on time and busted pumps. I'm too old to be standing around all day busting my cheeks and stomach muscles.
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
Paddy
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This is an old topic that I am kicking up to the front. Recently bought a book/DVD called "Balloons for Cash." He suggests having a list of 12 one balloon items with "Choose a Balloon" across the top in HUGE print and right under that (same size type) "$$$Please Tip $$$" Works, tips have increased and the requests for time consuming sculptures stopped.
Smile
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I reject your reality & substitute my own

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gman
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Lancaster, pa
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Quote:
On May 31, 2005, Kozmo wrote:
We are currently working on a project about busking with balloons ...should be a very good project..will psot here when its done..

koz


Hey Koz, guess you never made finished the project.
MagiCol
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Dargaville, New Zealand
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Paddy in his last post wrote: "He suggests having a list of 12 one balloon items." Wow, what a lot of choices for the buyer to sort through.
I do just 3 choices of a 1 260 balloon sold at $NZ3, an ordinary round one on stick for $2 [ for people who don't want to spend much, or whose kid just wants to hold a balloon], a heart flower tnat girls love [260 with sepals and one end and a 6" heart tied into the top] for $4, and a foil balloon of a NZ rugby shirt sells for $4 [I can afford to sell cheap because I got them free].
On my foldable menu board I have a photo of the model, the price, and the name of it, to make buyer's choice easier. And at the top I have "Pick A Balloon Shape."
Those who are going to make a Balloon Menu [like the cover of a book in shape so it is self-supporting on the ground], I'd say to start by making sure the Menu fits in your suit-case or on your trolley.
The presentation makes the magic.
gman
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I ordered the book and dvd that Paddy recommended. For now my balloon experience is only do you want a mutant dog, a sword or a loki hat?
Mario Morris
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Mario Morris
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Hi George, It was great to see Lady Vee teaching on balloon busking at the magic and mystery school, Las Vegas.
She is with out doubt the most experianced international ballon buskers I know.
Its the way she works her audience, with story telling, never in a rush making each person feel like a star is what Lady Vee does best.
I cant beleave I taught her the basics. Lady Vee will have pepole watch some times for hours and often they don't even want a ballon for their tips
tom hughes
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I have a system when I busk balloons that has worked very well for me for the last few years.

It comes down to a few simple rules;

1) ALWAYS twist with the parent present (they carry wallets, kids don't)
2) Always use a pump and a number machine ( no one gets bad tempered waiting in line, you know exactly who is next and you can close the line with a little forward planning... this is the best idea I ever stole from Mark Byrne)
3) have a menu... with "suggested tip" written on it; I divide mine into three for $3, $4 and $5 balloons
4) don't have a picture menu... kids can't often read and you WANT the parent to read the menu so they can also read the "suggested tip"
5) NO TIPS JAR.. you hand the kid the balloon and the parent your business card... they then hand you money, usually folded.
6) keep talking and entertaining... crack lots of jokes.
7) make a BIG fuss about big tippers and ALWAYS say thank you for even the smallest tip.
8) fix pops for free.


Works for me.

tom
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MagiCol
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Tom wrote "8) fix pops for free."
I've heard of a system where the broken balloon must be used as the ticket to get a replacement. Otherwise kids may turn up claiming to replace their balloon when they never paid for one.
The presentation makes the magic.
Mario Morris
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Quote:
On Nov 27, 2014, MagiCol wrote:
Tom wrote "8) fix pops for free."
I've heard of a system where the broken balloon must be used as the ticket to get a replacement. Otherwise kids may turn up claiming to replace their balloon when they never paid for one.


In the UK I called that balloon MOT. MOT is safety checks that car's must go through to be road worthy, yes you do need a balloon to go through our MOT repair. This also makes the adults smile, laugh while reassuring them.

Each different country we have gone to around the globe, their are tricks and way's that we have learnt that make sense for the environment your in. For example balloon busking in the UK a bit different to Germany. On the other hand balloon busking in Europe is totally different South East Asia and so on.

I first tried my hand at Balloon Busking over fifteen years ago for two seasons, but I soon went back to my day job of street magic. Now and then I become Veronica's assistant, she really has taken it to a whole different level of mastery. As well as my self Jeff McBride sore her mastery and their for asked her to share her craft in Las Vegas.
tom hughes
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Hmmm... although most kids will bring a popped balloon back I'd never insist that they HAVE to have the popped balloon in order to get a replacement. If a kid tells me that their balloon popped then that's good enough for me (although I do put most non wearables on balloon sticks). Why? Because my job, when balloon busking... is to look like a nice guy and refusing to replace a balloon, even if I feel I might be being ripped off (this has genuinely never happened) doesn't make me look like a nice guy. It makes me look bad. In fact... if a kid walks past me with a dishevelled looking balloon I'll stop them and either repair it or replace it; nothing is worse for business than a broken balloon and an unhappy looking kid.
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Mario Morris
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Glad to hear that, take pride in your work.
NYCTwister
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Quote:
On Nov 27, 2014, MagiCol wrote:
Tom wrote "8) fix pops for free."
I've heard of a system where the broken balloon must be used as the ticket to get a replacement. Otherwise kids may turn up claiming to replace their balloon when they never paid for one.


I don't make one balloon sculptures so the kid usually brings me the half mutilated carcass of whatever the poor thing was.

This is one of those situations where one or two kids might take advantage, but good will is more important than the cost of a few balloons.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
Mario Morris
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Mario Morris
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The bottom line hear is your reassuring parents, if the balloon pops you got it covered.
Lady Vee (Veronica) has got a very interesting way of dealing with lone kids or punks, if you meet her ask her.
MagiCol
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Mario writes: "The bottom line hear is your reassuring parents, if the balloon pops you got it covered."
Sometimes I talk to a kid about their balloon popping. "If your balloon breaks, first have a big, big cry. Then come back to me and I will replace it free." The crying comment usually brings a smile of "I wouldn't cry!' attitude.
And sometimes I will tell the parent, "If it breaks come back if you're handy, and if I'm still here I'll replace it free."

In practical terms, its a waste of words because very few people come back. Firstly, the Qualatex 260's are durable. And this can be helped by not having the balloon blown up too tight.
Probably, if the balloon breaks, the adult figures the kid got some fun out of it anyway.

While I'm talking balloons, I recently realized that it pays to have a back-up supplier in case your major one fails short-term or long-term. My usual supplier has quit, temporarily, and I found a back-up who will become my main supplier until my usual one is back on board.
It pays to have a reasonable stock-pile at your home in case there is a supply delay or a sudden rush need.
The presentation makes the magic.
Mario Morris
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Their is two sides to this the one is yes your correct but the other side, the disguiesd sales pitch ie reassuring.
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