Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
March 1, 2011

Question: I have been asked to be a vendor at an offsite event. There will not be a phone line available to plug in a credit card machine. Is there an easy way for me to accept credit cards and print customer receipts?

Answer: Your best bet is to call your merchant processor and see what they offer. If they are not able to provide a solution, check with your cell phone carrier. If you have a smart phone and a Paypal account and the location has a wireless internet connection, you can accept Paypal (and, therefore, credit cards) and email a receipt to the customer. Mobile receipt printers work well with smart phones, but some are proprietary, so it’s best to confer with your provider to be sure the device you purchase is compatible.

Apple’s latest mobile operating system update introduces a much-demanded feature: wireless printing. Unfortunately, it will only officially print from printers labeled “AirPrint-compatible,” which you probably don’t own. However, if you want to print from just about any printer, there are software modification apps for that.

Also, Hewlett-Packard has just announced a new feature for its all-in-one printers that allows users to print documents from any device with internet access. This will allow users to print from iPhones, iPads, Androids, and Blackberrys wirelessly, even if the phone does not come with support for a printer.

Technological advances happen so quickly that by the time this column is published, many affordable ways to accomplish what you want to do may be available!

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to