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Posted by Juliet Green on 7th Jul 2021

Should you rent a cotton candy machine at your carnival?

Should You Rent a Cotton Candy Machine For Your Carnival?

Renting a professional cotton candy machine for your carnival may seem like one of the best money makers, but the truth is that it usually is not. While renting a professional machine is a fantastic idea for some carnivals, we strongly recommend that others DON’T rent a cotton candy machine.

Here's the calculations for deciding if you should rent a cotton candy machine at your school or fundraising carnival. 

Most Importantly, Do The Math First:

To determine if renting a cotton candy machine will be profitable for your carnival or event, consider the bottom line. 

Let's take a look at what happened to a carnival planner (let's call her Sarah) when she budgeted for a cotton candy machine at a small carnival.

Sarah's total budget is $250 and her expected profit is $500. She knows that a professional cotton candy machine can cost $500 or more to purchase, or $150-$200 to rent, so she rents a machine for $150 that day. She still needs to purchase the ingredients, clean-up supplies, and food safety supplies (such as gloves and hair nets). She also barely gets enough volunteers to keep the machine running for the duration of the carnival. She expects 50-100 guests at her carnival event.

She knows that the cost of each serving will be $0.50, and the most she expected to sell is 100. However, Sarah forgot to determine whether this cotton candy venture would be profitable before she started. Fifty cents times 100 is fifty dollars. Add this $50 to the cost of the rental, $150, to get $200. Sarah's cotton candy venture costs her two-hundred dollars for the day!

Sarah is lucky, but only because she breaks even. Her carnival sold 100 cotton candies at $2.00 a piece. The $200 made from the cotton candy sales exactly covered the cost of the machine and materials. Never mind profiting: this is a lot of work from administrators, parents, and volunteers simply to break even!

Make sure to carefully consider your carnival budget before renting a cotton candy machine!

A Perfect Example of What NOT To Do:

Sarah failed to make a profit with her cotton candy idea. With some more planning, Sarah could have done better. The huge take-away is to do the math to determine if it's possible to make a profit. Learn from Sarah's mistakes by carefully planning out the finances of having a cotton candy machine BEFORE renting or buying one!

Use the formula described above (and shown in the image) to calculate your possible profits or losses from a professional cotton candy machine. Figure out your breakeven point. Will you likely sell more? Will you sell enough to make a substantial profit, a profit worth the hassle and work?

When Is a Cotton Candy Machine Right for Your Event?

A cotton candy machine rental may be a great idea if you have a very large event, like an annual carnival or festival. (We consider a large event to have 600 or more guests.) With an annual event, you can save the extra cotton candy supplies (aside from the food ingredients!) for next year.

Colorful cotton candy sits in bags, waiting to be sold during a carnival event.

If your event is a medium or small-sized event, consider not having a cotton candy machine. Instead, you can purchase bags of cotton candy and hang to display - they look great! Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking even or worse, losing money! Don't worry, there are many alternatives to a cotton candy machine. Instead, you can purchase bags of cotton candy and hang to display - they look great! (See our image above!)

Also, check out our free booth and game ideas for more ideas here!

Carnival Savers infographic: Should I have or rent a cotton candy machine at my carnival?

 

 In Conclusion...

Check out this simple flowchart to determine if a cotton candy machine is right for your event. Thanks for visiting the Carnival Savers blog!