ST. PAUL, Minn. - At the Minnesota State Fair, being a vendor means getting your product in front of hundreds of thousands of potential customers in a single day.
The competition to become a vendor is fierce, and once you're in, the money is good.
In 2016 there were seven vendors who made more than a million dollars during the 12-day state fair, according to fair organizers.
Sweet Martha's took the cake (or cookie) by far, grossing nearly $4 million with the advantage of having three locations at the fair rather than the one location held by each of its competitors in the million dollar club.
2016 Million Dollar Sales Club at MN State Fair
1. Sweet Martha's (West, Carnes & North Locations) - $3,938,509
2. Midwest Dairy (Milk & Dairy Building) - $1,158,500
3. Cheese Curds (Food Building) - $1,118,983
4. Giggle's Campfire Grill - $1,109,776
5. Ball Park - $1,064,794
6. Cafe Caribe - $1,049,743
7. Shanghaied Henri's - $1,006,251
Fair organizers say food and alcohol vendors are typically the highest earning vendors at the MN State Fair. Food vendors are then required to pay the fair 15 percent of their gross revenue, and alcohol vendors are required to pay 18 percent.
Once a vendor is in, they are usually allowed to return each year. In 2017, only five new food vendors were granted permission to set up shop at the fair, despite about 400 food vendor applicants.
“It has to be the right product for the right opening at the right time, and then somebody who has experience in selling that product to a large audience,” said Dennis Larson with the MN State Fair.