The Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association typically made most of its money from milkshake sales at the annual Farm Show. But with the pandemic forcing the 2021 event to go virtual, the group is taking the show on the road with pop-up milkshake stands around the state.
For the past few years, the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association was concerned about having all its revenue eggs in one basket: the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. It was during this January event that the association made most of its money through milkshake sales. In 2019, for example, the organization racked up $400,000 in revenue selling the frosty treats.
However, concern turned into reality when the pandemic hit after last year’s show, and the 2021 event was converted to virtual. So, the association has turned to a novel solution to recoup some of that lost revenue: pop-up milkshake stands.
“We are taking our milkshakes to where our consumers are,” said Dave Smith, executive director of the PA Dairymen’s Association.
And people are letting the association know where they are. Publicity surrounding the virtual show let the public know they could request the pop-up stand. “People are really hungry for these,” Smith said. “I am kind of shocked at how many people have been calling us [to request a pop-up location].”
While the association is pleased with the response from the public, it knows that the pop-up stands won’t make up for all the revenue lost from the Farm Show.
“We have a lot of ground to make up, so we’re going to be pretty aggressive to secure events,” Smith said. “But I only expect we can make up about 25 percent of what the Farm Show would have done. We just can’t go somewhere with the same volume of people.”
The good news is the organization was able to get its equipment together during 2020, converting traditional in-place equipment to mobile and hiring fabricators to build professional carts and stands. The association will even be introducing a food truck. “That will give us additional exposure and advertising and allow us to do even more,” Smith said.
In addition to the pop-up stand, the organization partnered with a small grocery store chain to sell a milkshake-flavored ice cream in its stores. That agreement emerged during the pandemic, as another alternative way to bring in revenue with the loss of in-person events.
“That was just an extension of what we’re doing,” Smith said. “There are some good things coming from this past year.”