I would suggest having at least a couple of "demo" hoops for people to play with... seeing others playing with hoops and talking to them while they do may convince more people to buy one!! :)
Just let them know that the pretty hoops are for sell and are not for use because of that. They should be able to know that you don't want to ruin your product before it's even sold. You on the right track with havign a tester item for them to spin.
I agree. I vend hoops at events also, and I just bring a few beat up hoops for 'play' and for people who just want to try them out. You definitely have the right idea with the tester hoops. When I started vending I made the mistake of letting someone 'borrow' one of my hoops, and had to track it down at the fest I was at. No bueno !
Hmm, considering I'd never buy a hoop that I haven't tried yet perhaps you should just give them a warning before you let them use it? Something along the lines of- "These hoops are for sale, so if you break it you buy it."
I understand that you'll have a "tester" hoop, but I would still feel apprehensive about not using the hoop that I am buying. Something might be different from one to the other and I would want to know about it before I paid for it.
You'd be surprised, but there is definitely a difference between a taped and an untaped hoop. Depending on the tape it adds weight, and the grip is of course different- so to reiterate myself from earlier: I would never buy a hoop that I couldn't use first.
Of course in the end, it's up to you- but I feel as though you may loose potential customers with such a strict way of going about it. Most tapes are fairly resilient and would stand up to a few drops before really getting messed up, and besides that, it's not like the hoop is completely worthless should that happen. Not only could you probably still sell it for the same price, but a few dollars off here and there really wouldn't cause you to lose money.
As for the stealing thing, yea it happens. But that's a risk that you take bringing stuff like that to an event. I mean, unless you have a possie of people with you, someone could just come up, snatch the hoops out of your hands, and run... it wouldn't really be that difficult. That being said, I do definitely recommend having at least two friends with you- they could keep an eye on those testing out the hoops to ensure the safety of your product.