Here’s a list of ways you can keep your money and personal items secure at a convention or large craft show. The guide is divided into two sections: “Options For Storing Your Money” and “Other Ways to Keep Your Money Safe”.
Thanks to all the artists and exhibitors who shared their stories and provided their input so we could create this document.
Section 1: Options for Storing Your Money
We recommend that you avoid using a cash box, but if you have to use one:
- Secure it to your booth with zip ties, a bungee cord, rope, or a chain.
- Keep it closed when you aren’t using it.
- Lock it if it won’t be in plain site for a moment.
- Set up your booth so that your cash box won’t be in plain sight.
Fanny packs are a good way to keep money on your person at all times. If you use one:
- Secure it to your jean belt loop or another comfortable item of clothing with zip ties.
- Don’t leave the money pouch open as it can spill on the floor or be easy to grab. Keep the zipper closed.
- Don’t take off your fanny pack or leave it on your table even during tear down.
Money aprons are a favourite among many exhibitors. Major benefits of a money apron are that 1) the apron is tied around your waist so it’s much harder to remove, and 2) some come with zippers.
Combination lock box
Many exhibitors use combination lock boxes the same way they’d used a cash box. It can be used on top of a table or underneath (as a “safe” for money drops).
Note that, even though a combination is hard to crack, a thief could still steal the box and smash it open later.
Please refer to our “cash box” section above for advice on how to best use this option.
A cross-body purse is a purse that you wear across your body, such that it sits one shoulder but the straps go across your torso/chest.
If you go with this approach, remember to keep the zipper closed so the money doesn’t fall out or is easily accessible.
Pencil case or other discreet container
Some exhibitors prefer to store their money inside an item that won’t be easily recognizable. If you go this route, make sure it’s attached to something hard to grab and don’t leave it in plain sight.
Section 2: Other Ways to Keep Your Money Safe
Make yourself undesirable to steal from
Thieves look for easy targets. The more you can do to make stealing your money harder, the less likely you’ll be targeted.
Having a plan is key
- When planning your booth set-up, consider where the blind spots are.
- Walk around the front of your booth and see how easily someone could pocket your stock, phone, etc.
- Block the front and sides of your booth with bins, or grid cages, or tape cardboard to the outside of the table. Thieves DO grab money from under tables sometimes. Make it impossible for them to get anything under your table.
- Invite a friend or family member to help you at the booth so you aren’t alone.
- Make sure anyone working your booth is well trained on your safety protocols.
- Never leave your booth unattended, even if it means paying someone to watch it while you’re on break.
- Purchase binder clips that you can use to hold bills together. This makes it harder for them to fall out loose. You can also attach the end of the binder clip to your pocket or whatever container you’re using to store your money in.
- Do money drops as often as possible throughout an event. This could be inside your own booth (e.g. an unsuspecting box – but make sure no one sees you do it).
- Find out where your closest bank (including ones with drive-through ATMs) is to the facility (or your lodging) before the event.
- Deposit your earnings in the bank at the end of each day.
- Bring only your float, and not your earnings, with you at the beginning of each day.
Talk to other exhibitors and artists
- Ask advice from other artists and exhibitors on tips they’ve used to keep their money and personal items safe.
- Get to know your booth neighbours at events.
Keep a watchful eye
- Stay vigilant.
- Sometimes keeping an extra eye open can make a world of difference.
- If someone at your booth looks suspicious, engage them in a friendly conversation. For example, “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?”
- If you can spare an extra eye, keep an eye out on your neighbours’ booths.
Your safety comes first
- If you feel unsafe at any time, remember that YOU are more important than your money or stock.
- Don’t risk harm even if it means catching the thief.
Remember that thieves go after more than money
- Keep all valuables like laptops, tablets, cell phones, and purses out of reach of patrons.
- Tablets and mobile phones can easily be kept in one of the pouches on a money belt.