If Mom left her purse home or Dad forgot to check his list before loading the kids into the car, your day at the State Fair doesn’t have to be ruined. You can find sunscreen, diapers, ponchos, Pepto-Bismol and all of the indispensable items you may need to avoid disaster and keep the fun flowing by stopping at Fair Essentials, a fledgling business managed by two Baldwinsville men.
Casey Stock and Derek LaFave are going into their second year as the vendors most likely to save the day. Their original wooden shack displayed a large sign last year to introduce their clever concept. “Everything convenient, Everything essential: Fair Essentials,” the poster boasted.
They drew a steady stream of customers in their initial season, accomplishing their goal to make a splash and establish themselves. “It’s going pretty well, I think for the first time,” Stock said at the 2011 Fair. “They’re starting to learn about us and now word’s getting out that we’re here, people are starting to look for us.”
Stock and LaFave wisely posted a complete list of items and prices, allowing notoriously cautious fairgoers to feel comfortable choosing what they needed. Hand sanitizer, for instance, sold for a buck and razors for $2, while Tide-To-Go was $4 and bug spray was $5. Their top-priced item was an umbrella for $10. With lighters, batteries, hair brushes and sippy cups in stock, customers could simply grab what they needed right there on the grounds to make their day at the Fair longer and more comfortable.
The 2011 stand, hand-built and hauled to the fairgrounds on LaFave’s flat-bed truck, was inconspicuous among its neon-adorned neighbors. But its location, near the games of chance at the entrance to the Strates midway, was fortuitous in being just inside a gate to the infield. Customers came from all directions, with sideshow staffers and campers joining average Fair families as customers.
The pair’s best seller? “Lately it’s been energy drinks really: Red Bull and Monster Drinks,” Stock revealed. “We banked on water being the biggest one, but energy drinks are keeping pretty close with it. We have better prices, too. We tried to have reasonable prices.”
This year the boys are adding a second location, near Gate 3, and stocking several new items requested by customers, including low-carb energy drinks and Dramamine. “We had a decent first year,” Stock said recently “We did OK, even though nobody knew about us.”With their second fair ready to open, these ingenious entrepreneurs, flush with the success of their first commercial venture, are hoping that they’ll start to see repeat customers who find Fair Essentials the best corner store on the lot.