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I'm More of a Circle- but I like Square

April 14, 2011

So, when I first started out (Nov. 2009) in the craft fair world I was a scared hopeless little girl (with a baby no less) who didn’t know what the hell she was doing and didn’t know who to ask either. I just did it. I jumped right in, and never looked back. And boy, am I glad I did! Since then, I’ve learned a lot of things (and I keep learning) and one of those is this: ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS!

My first few shows I took cash only. I would take a check if I ‘knew’ you in the least, but I didn’t take credit. I had no idea the option was out there. I was a little business. Hell, I was just ME. How could ME take a credit card? The thought scared the poop right outta me. But then, I started asking around. I perused the Etsy forums (vast and scary) and found that most people then were using ProPay. So, I followed suit.

I signed up for a $35/yr ProPay account (discounted Etsy rate) and bought a knuckle-buster from somewhere I don’t even remember at this point (it’s not important- believe me, this option I’m about to give you is SO much better!). A few weeks later my tiny knuckle buster arrived in the mail with a personalized plate with my name on it and everything! It took me quite a few tries to get the sliding back and forth carbon copy thing right, but finally, I sort of did. Honestly, it never copied everything from the card so I ended up making sheets of paper where my customer/I could write the card #, their name, zip (zip code was UBER necessary or the card wouldn’t go through) and any other pertinent information. Anyway- that’s what I did all last year. And boy, did I make credit card sales! Well worth it! Oh, maybe I should say HOW I did it?

So, basically, when a customer wanted to pay with credit card I would take their cc, run it in the KB (knuckle buster) and copy down all their information. They would sign the large receipt and go about their business. At the end of the night when I was all packed up and home, I would enter each cc transaction into the computer via ProPay. ProPay would take a percentage (3.35%-3/5% depending on your account) from each transaction as well as a flat fee ($0.35) for each as well. (Very similar to Etsy fees, so I didn’t think a thing about it.) It worked well. I never had one cc declined. *knock on wood*

But, it was a cumbersome process. Writing down all of that information at least twice, making the customer wait while I tried to get the KB carbon to actually work. Half the time I couldn’t get the receipt to fit through the KB and all the while my table is filling up with customers who have questions and I’m sweating and having a nervous breakdown b/c I can’t get this ancient form of technology to work!

_____________________________________________________

So, when this craft fair season started to roll around, I wanted to check out my options. I knew their had to be something better out there on the market with all these new smart phones and tablets making their way into our greedy little hands (ok, my greedy little hands!). So, I asked around and found that Square was the way to go. At least for now.

Square offers:

  • Free app for iPhone, iPad & Android.
  • Get paid. with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover
  • Daily deposit to your bank account.
  • Simple pricing: 2.75% per swipe.
  • No commitments. Free shipping.
  • Sounds too easy doesn’t it? I thought so too, but I figured, why not try it out? It’s free after all, and no money up front. So, I did. I ordered my Square card reader and then actually set out to buy a new phone. See, I hadn’t bought a new cell phone in about 6 years, so it was anything but smart;) So, headed over to Best Buy and ended up buying the LG Vortex from Verizon and then, about a week later I got my Square Reader in the mail. This is the only gripe I’ve heard about Square from anyone is that it took forever to get the reader in the mail. This wasn’t true for me in the least.

    So, I got my reader (you’ll get used to my long-windedness eventually, or I’ll shut up eventually) and went on my merry way. All I had to do was go online and link my Square account to my bank account (that took longer than getting the reader actually) and download the free application to my phone and then swipe the card.

    My first craft show was the first weekend in April and I (rather bravely) only took my phone and my Square reader that day. My first sale of the day was a cc and I let my customer know this was my first cc using this new technology and then opened the app, typed in the $ amount, and swiped the card (the card reader plugs into the headphone jack on your phone). It took a couple of times but it’s very intuitive and lets you know when it hasn’t read the card (so you’re not charging your customer over and over and over again). Once the card has been swiped and read it asks your customer for their signature. My customers were so surprised and impressed that they signed my smart phone with their finger! Some of them couldn’t do it, I’ll admit. I believe smart phone technology, at least on my phone, requires a warm finger to make it move and not just a stylus (or I would have purchased one as I kind of HATE touch screens) which had just a few people saddened, but they got it done. Once signed it will ask if you want your receipt emailed or sent via text to your phone and you can fill that information out for your customer or choose to not get a receipt. Then you’re done!

    In a day or so Square will automatically deposit your money into your linked bank account. This is also different from ProPay (ProPay will charge you for withdrawing money ($0.35) from your ProPay account each time you do so and will only allow up to $1,000 unless you purchase a higher plan, OR you can get a free ProPay credit card that has your money on it and spend that instead of withdrawing the money- so, just an extra step). But that’s that with Square. That’s all you have to deal with. No paper. No receipts. No typing it in after the fact. Quick and super easy and you look really cool when you use it. You kinda look like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t.

    So- in the end, I definitely recommend using Square. I’ve only used it at one fair this year, but it will get its use for sure this summer!

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    5 Comments leave one →
    1. April 14, 2011 9:09 pm

      Awesome! Just the write up I was looking for. 😀

    2. April 15, 2011 12:53 am

      Thanks for the write-up! I guess our ipod was messed up at the Bloomington show… I got a smart phone last week which was a big upgrade for me too, & am going to use it this weekend with Square at our first outdoor show! It sounds so much easier than propay.

      • admin permalink*
        April 15, 2011 8:49 pm

        Yea, I know, I felt awful for you guys, but I’d asked around and no one else was having any trouble. Hopefully this weekend it will prove fruitful for you!! 😉

    3. April 16, 2011 4:54 am

      It is a great pleasure to tell you that I love your work. You are into a wonderful work. Keep the spirit high.And yes i have bookmarked your site conduit-press.com .

    4. April 16, 2011 1:31 pm

      Great post Talia!! It’s great to be learning all these things now from people who have been through it. I will have to keep this in mind for when I’m ready for it. Since I’m still knew to the craft show circle I’m still need to figure out how many craft shows I will be doing and if my product sells well at them. Then I can start thinking about using something like this. But I totally think it’s awesome!

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