How to Start a Concession Stand in Pennsylvania

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Concession stands sell treats at ballgames, carnivals, fairs and parks. Starting a concession stand of your own might seem like a fun and profitable business venture--you get to sell things like hot dogs, funnel cakes and beer to people who are out having a good time, all while being your own boss. If you want to operate your concession stand in Pennsylvania, however, you will need to ensure that you are obeying all local laws and ordinances while you run your business.

Write up a business plan for your concession stand, and decide what type of stand you want to operate. You can run a stand that sells several types of pre-packaged foods like chips and soda, or you can operate one in which you cook your own food like hot dogs or funnel cakes. This decision will affect what type of equipment you need. You need to decide whether you want to sell alcohol--if so, you'll need a special license. You also must decide where you want to run your stand. If you choose some special event, you'll only be able to make money when an event is going on.

Find a place to operate your concession stand. You cannot just buy equipment and set it up wherever you like. If you want to operate a concession stand at a sporting event or fair, you will need to arrange for a permit to do so with the people responsible for operating the event. Contact the manager of the location you plan to run your business in and explain that you are a vendor. You will probably need to pay a fee to operate your stand at a fair or flea market, and you may find that you aren't allowed to operate a private stand at most local stadiums. If you want to operate a food truck like the ones that sell cheesesteaks and sausages on the street, you'll need to buy a permit from the city or town in which you want to sell.

Buy your concession stand and all of the equipment you need. You can save money by buying a used concession stand, or you can buy an entirely new outfit from a food vendor manufacturer. These companies specialize in producing all the equipment you'll need to operate your stand, from frames to grills to condiment dispensers. You can also buy a franchise from a national food stand chain. If you go this route, you'll get all of your equipment from the chain, but you'll need to sign an agreement to follow the company's rules and turn over a share of your revenue.

Apply for a business license, seller's permit and DBA (doing business as) from your local county clerk. You can apply for all of these documents at once; you'll need to fill out forms with your information and pay fees. These documents will allow you to register your business name, open business banking accounts, buy supplies at wholesale prices and hire employees.

Obtain federal and state taxpayer identification numbers from the federal and Pennsylvania Internal Revenue Services. Both of these numbers can be obtained in one day. You'll need to fill out online applications and pay fees for both of these numbers. You need them to open bank accounts and hire employees.

Register your concession stand with the state Department of Agriculture. You may be visited by a health inspector, so make sure you are in compliance with Pennsylvania's Health Codes.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Hannigan began writing freelance articles in 2005. Her work can be found in "Orientations" magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Delaware.

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