Detailed Description Of Working at Sunset

Introduction to Sunset Celebration

Welcome!!!  Before you start there are some requirements and things you should know:

Sunset Celebration is operated and managed by the Key West Cultural Preservation Society, Inc. (CPS), a not for profit corporation. The CPS operates the daily Sunset Celebration in accordance with our lease of Mallory Square Dock with the City of Key West.

We are at Mallory Square every night from two hours before sunset until two hours after, weather permitting. Each night we have a lottery for performing spaces and for craft spaces to facilitate set up.

Mallory Square Orientation

Your first night selling:

All crafts-persons and food vendors (but not service providers) are required to have a sales tax ID number from the Florida Department of Revenue. These can be acquired for no charge at  it takes about a half hour to fill out the application. You will need your social security number. after you’ve applied you will be given your sales tax number online. Print out that web page and bring it to your first day at Mallory . You should receive the certificate in the mail in 10 days.

Your sales tax ID license must be shown to the Pier Manager on the first night of set up. bring a copy to give the pier manager. Participants must keep tax status up to date. Food participants must also have been given the ok by the PC having shown all necessary licenses to sell food items as required by the State of Florida and the City of Key West.

Your First Night as a Participant:

Come to the pier 5 minutes before lottery time, lottery time is approximately two hours before sunset. but it changes times as the sunset changes time.

Here is a chart for when to be at Mallory, Artists arrival times have an A before them and performers arrival times have a P before them

 Be prepared to show your sales tax number (partners must both be listed on the tax ID form), and appropriate licenses if required, you will be required to sign a release form and pay your nightly setup fee (currently $20.00). You must be there on time to pick your number otherwise you will have to wait until everyone else has picked their space before you will able to choose yours

You must set up within thirty days after having been approved by the PC Committee or else you will be required to re-jury at another PC meeting.

The Pier Manager

The pier manager is hired by the board of CPS. He is the AUTHORITY ON THE PIER. If you have any questions or problems he is the one to talk to. He runs the lottery, resolves disputes, and stops harmful activity; and has the authority to suspend participants for bad behavior. If you have a problem with anyone at the pier please call the pier manager first rather than confront the person yourself. If anyone besides the pier manger gives you instructions you can always check with the pier manager to see if they have any authority to do so.

At lottery time the bell will be rung and everyone gathers to pay their nightly fee and to draw a number. (The number determines the order in which you chose your setup location, more on that later) There are 4 levels of seniority.

  • The participants who have participated for more than 180 days and who have been moved up to Regular or Snowbird in waiting status status draw first. They draw from a can labeled “regulars” and which contains the numbers 05 to 50,

  • The snowbirds (people with between 61 and 150 days) draw from a can with the numbers between 71 to 90.

  • The Newcomers (you) chose from the can holding the numbers 90 to 105

to get your number, get in line, hand the pier manager your fee, and pull a random washer out of the Bucket, ask the pier manager which Bucket to pull from. (We call the washer keys)

Once everyone has drawn numbers, the numbers are called out starting from 05, 04… 01, 0, 1, 2… and going up. When your number is called, step up to the map of Mallory pier and hang your number on the map where you want to set up. After you hang your number you can set up, and begin selling. Ask the pier manager or anyone from the PC committee for help if you are confused.


Set-up spaces are nine feet wide and six feet deep. The front of your display must not extend beyond the “front line” which is different for each section; ask your neighbors what is being used as the front line in your section (or just look down the row). The bricks on the pier can be used as reference points to see how wide your set up space is. The gray rows of bricks in the center of the wide white strips separate the spots. Please leave room around your display for free passage so as not to infringe upon your neighbor’s space. The front three feet of your display (measuring from the front line) can be no higher than four feet and the back three feet can be any height.

Each participant must be on site for the entire time his or her display is set up at the Sunset Celebration. You are entitled to a helper but you must be present to sell. No more than two people can be working at each table and please, no hawking is allowed.

Behavior at the Pier

It is your responsibility to be aware of the rules, regulations, and requirements to set up at the Sunset Celebration.

For a complete list of the rules and guidelines go to Generally if you use common sense and are courteous to others you are OK. A few rules you should keep in mind are: You are required by the official rules to be honest about the products you are selling. An ongoing pattern of abusive, discourteous or drunken behavior is grounds for the revocation of membership and the right to participate in Mallory Square sunset celebration.

Authorities at the Pier

Sunset Celebration is operated and managed by the Key West Cultural Preservation Society, Inc. (CPS), a not for profit corporation. The CPS operates the daily Sunset Celebration in accordance with our lease of Mallory Square Dock with the City of Key West.


We urge you to take the extra step and become a member of CPS. There are many advantages, such as, you will also be able to use our Credit Card facility for your sales as well as be listed on the Sunset Celebration website. Membership also means being involved in the running of the organization through your votes as well as being able to sit on a committee or run for office.


Riding a bike to work and maybe towing a cart is a very good option, another option. Is to Drive in and unload your products in the parking lot, we currently have free parking passes but we only have 8, people who want parking passes tell the pier manager and there is a random drawing for one of the parking passes after lottery has ended. the parking lot is expensive ($4.00 per hour). Many people park on city streets and walk or bike back to work. This takes some skill to find a parking space but after a while people get a system for it.

Standard Display

To give you a starting point, I will tell you that many people have some variation of the following display, feel free to change and modify it to suit your personal needs.

Rules to know: You are allowed an 9’ by 6’ space which must include space to allow you to walk to the front of your display when necessary.

The front three feet of your display must be below 4 feet tall. This keeps you from blocking your neighbors visibility. The rule typically doesn’t apply to umbrellas.

The standard display is made of the following elements (most of which can be found at Home Depot.) 6 foot table, a table cloth (Ben Franklin craft store or Ross), folding chair, lights (with some way to attach them) and a 25 foot extension chord. You should be able to buy everything new for between $100 and $200. If you want more details, keep reading.

if your product is water proof, make your display water proof, so rain will be less threatening. Either that, or spend the next couple of years worrying about rain. also, bring a plastic sheet in rainy season.

1) 6 foot folding table: Available from Home Depot, white plastic. $60

2) Cloth to be used as a table cloth, try to sewing shop in town or use a sheet (a good cloth creates a good clean professional appearance and is definitely worth the money) ($5 – $90) the cloth can be clamped to the legs of the table. Spring clamps are available at any hardware store $4 each.

3) two or four 8 foot poles wooden ones cost $2/ea or PVC pipes. These give you a place to clamp your lights. Cut them down to 6 feet and attach them to your table with bungies. They go from the feet of the table in the back along the back of the table and up into the air. The 4 bungies you tend to use to do this are used in following way: wrap two around the feet of the table and the pole and wrap two around the pole and the upper table legs. Duct tape works too and is cheaper in the beginning to use. Some people use cross poles on the upright poles in order to give themselves vertical display surfaces. It is a good idea to use horizontal space if you can. The horizontal poles can be attached to the vertical poles by bungies, duct tape clamps or whatever. Bungies cost $3 to $5 the expensive ones last longer.

4) Clamp lights are available from ace hardware ( I don’t know about home depot), the workmen’s type made from aluminum don’t look good and tend to break in about a month or two. The more attractive type designed to clip on to your headboard or bed side table cost less, look better and last longer. (They also protect you bulbs better) $7 each (buy two) these lights generally have plastic inserts to keep the light from spreading off to the side they give off more light if you pull those out. having a bare bulb that shines into peoples eyes will hurt your sales.

5) Light bulbs: Use Led’s they don’t break,  The light given off by the various bulbs is very different, consider if you want cold warm or nuetral white light. I recommend buying spotlights since they only direct light in a useful direction. Two bulbs (and maybe a spare) cost $5 to $20 total. If you like gadgets Smart bulbs are an option, you can adjust the white color until it’s perfect. We have wifi at malory so you can use smart bulbs.

6) We ask that you use a 3 prong extension chord. I suggest you get one that is 25 feet long also if you have multiple light to plug into the chord, make sure you have a way to do that (for example a power strip). home depot has extension chords that have 4 sockets and that retract into the housing when you turn the handle I think they cost $15 . You may want to buy a power strip because if there are three people using two sockets and no one has a power strip it becomes difficult. ($7)

folding chair: ?

table $60

cloth $20

spring clamps $16

poles $4

bungies $20

lights $14

bulbs $20

chair $30

extension chord $15


total $189

Cart: In the beginning you can park and haul your stuff over to Mallory but eventually you may want to cat a cart which can be towed behind your bike or scooter. Talk to people to get a good idea what you might want to build, some people buy the carts designed to haul children, other people need to build something bigger. I’ve wondered if the wheelbarrows at the hardware store might make a good cart.

there is a picture of the standard display and another suggestion for 2D artists display here.


General Salesmanship Tips

When People begin to sell their crafts at Mallory they often have a lot to learn about how to be successful at our market. The Mallory Tip sheet in an attempt to get you off to a GOOD START and save you a lot of trial and error. Everyone is different so some of these ideas won’t work for you. There is no sure fire way to be successful, so experiment a lot. Listen to your customers, find out WHY THEY BUY so you can anticipate their needs and be a better salesperson. A good sales person knows how their product helps people. Keep track of WHAT THEY BUY so that you can better refine your inventory. Focus on what sells and get rid of the rest. Keep trying new things.

A lot of people give Mallory a half hearted try, find that they don’t make much money, and then give up. If you really want to test Mallory you need to have a full test, with a full sized display which is neat, professionally arranged and well stocked. If you skimp on any of these things you need to lower your expectations for what you will earn. If you sell some things with only a small table, a few products a a threadbare cloth, you have potential.

Also don’t spend $500 building a cart and display before you have found out if your product can sell here. Start with a neat professional display, learn a lot, THEN spend the big bucks on the killer cart and display.

Persistence pays off at Mallory. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make much money on your first night. Some people believe that this happens because it takes people a few night of seeing something before they decide to buy. Other people theorize that it takes time for a person to learn how best to market themselves to the Mallory crowd. One thing is sure, Selling at Mallory is something that you learn and you get better at it over time.

Work to develop a genuine interest in your customers. Make eye contact, smile, say something friendly to break the silence and show that you like them, From there you will develop your own style of interaction. Some people maintain conversation constantly and give a spiel. Others let the customer have their space until they once again choose to engage in conversation. If you engage your customers and make them feel good you will double your sales.

You should always have several varieties of your product because some will sell better than others. Keep a written record of what sells best and next time you make inventory make more of that item and display it on your table more prominently. Customizing on site also makes customers feel special.

Give your display height differences. If everything is on the same level the items you sell may seem uninteresting and hard to see, people see things on flat tables constantly it’s not special. Arrange your products on risers or use both table (horizontal) and wall (vertical) display space,

If you want to bring your product closer to your customers, and don’t mind excluding children from seeing your table top, raise your table. it looks more professional.

Make sure you have a variety of prices. Cheap items sell fast and may be your bread and butter but you need to have high-end items too. Having a high end product that sells consistently can make your business. I would say that most sales will be between $10 and $25.

People tend to buy things at Mallory as souvenirs. Tropically themed items sell well because it reminds people of Key West. They love it if the item says Key West (obviously). If their friend sees a souvenir in their house that says Key West on it, a whole story unfolds in only two words.

“The Setting makes the stone.” Presentation can make a big difference. Make your display show off the best aspects of your product. When you first start at Mallory that means keep your display neat and tidy, and use a quality tablecloth. Once you have gotten a bit more experience, it can mean creating a theme for your table. Choose one that works for you, maybe velvet cloth and oak risers will make your product look expensive, or maybe bright tropical colors and patterns will make your product look fun. Make sure all the materials that the customer sees are quality, both display elements and product. Professional looking display shelves/ back drops/ tablecloths etc… can make a big difference. If you treat your products with respect the customers will perceive them as valuable. If you treat them badly the customers will perceive them as trashy.

Have a lot of inventory. People need Time to get used to the idea of buying something. If you have only a few items they will see the whole table on one glance and keep moving. If you have a lot of product they will take time to browse. The longer they stay the more the chance they will buy something. This, for example, is why painters have racks of prints that the customer can flip through.

Keep in mind that winter is windy and summer is rainy. Watch the weather and the radar. Have a tarp to throw over your stuff if a rain cloud comes out of nowhere. Use weights to tie down your table when it’s windy.

Consider starting off with a 6 foot table. A small table seems convenient at first but you are cheating yourself of really experiencing Mallory. People hesitate to approach small tables. They make you look unimportant, and small tables often contain less inventory, which means less sales.

You will need lights. Half or more of your sales will happen after sunset.

This Tip sheet is a work in progress. It grows from your ideas. As a newcomer you have the best perspective on how we might improve it. If you can think of new ideas or questions, or if you feel we should remove or modify some of the ideas given PLEASE send us an e-mail at We hope you will stay, participate, and prosper. The day you move from newcomer status, to snowbird status, might I suggest that you think about the things you have learned and send us an e-mail so that we can include those ideas in this sheet.

Good Luck, Participate, Enjoy!!!