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Credit Cards?
Does anyone use one of those credit card reading apps at the merch table?

In the past I have decided that the inclusion of credit cards felt out of place within a donation-based model. But, as time goes on, I try to reconsider these things.
And, I'm releasing a new CD this coming year, and am planning on having some additional merch to sell. I don't want to lose out on additional sales because folks are out of cash. But, I also don't want to introduce an off-putting consumerist element into my connective and emotional evenings.

So, what do y'all currently do? Cash only? Checks? Credit cards?

Thanks for any advice or stories.
We use the Square app at the merch table. We've seen an incredible increase in merch sales since we started using it -- like, perhaps merch sales increased something like 4 times. And our merch sales make up just a bit less than half of our income each night. So, it's a super important part of making this model work from a financial perspective.

I don't think it interferes at all with the connectivity or emotional vibe of the house concert. Very rarely do people actually make donations with credit cards, although every once in a while someone will ask us to tack on an extra amount to their merch purchase as a donation. I think people understand that buying CDs and other merch is something that requires a financial transaction, and we've found that it hasn't interrupted the good-feeling-ness of the event at all.

In fact, we had one host describe this to his guests in a really awesome way one time (I wish I had recorded it!). He said something like, "This here (holding the donation vessel) is our participation in helping this kind of experience happen for other people. It's like us paying it forward to make it possible for Shannon to keep doing this and bringing this experience to others. This is 'community.' That over there (pointing to the merch table) is 'commerce.' That's where Shannon has CDs and merchandise, and if you enjoy and value what she does and want to take a piece of this home with you tonight, that's where you do that. It's important that you do both, but realize that they are separate activities -- one is to pay it forward to keep this kind of thing going, one is to recognize the value of and purchase the art that Shannon has created." (He said it much better than that, but hopefully you get the drift.)

I would absolutely encourage you to have the ability to take credit cards. How you present it to your people will make all the difference in terms of how it's received by them. Many people will be grateful that the opportunity is there for them to use their cards since a lot of people don't carry much cash these days. 
Thanks Shannon. Your post has really helped me.
The "community here" and "commerce there" idea is extremely clarifying!
Fantastic info again.I ordered my PayPal machine yesterday :-) Thanks Shannon xx
Just to pile on to what Shannon said above, I can't tell you how many times I've experienced the following at the merch table (which is my station after the show):

"Oh wow you take credit cards! Oh that's so great!" [person proceeds to buy $50 worth of stuff]

Being caught up in the moment + a couple glasses of wine + deferred financial responsibility can really really REALLY help your merch sales.
jamie hill
shannon's husband & partner in crime
co-inventor of the house concert model & co-author of the book
which is why i reply so often on here
i produce, mix, & master records
you can hear my work at
Tacoma, WA, USA

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