Burning Man operates as a gift economy. There’s no bartering, there’s no trading. You give, you get, you gift. Simple.
But Burning Man is not free. In fact, it’s damn expensive which makes complete sense. The money it costs to put the infrastructure in place would blow your mind—the fees to the Bureau of Land Management, porta-potties, the ticketing vendor… Check out the financial chart for 2010 here.
Like any vacation, you’re missing out on a salary, paying for transportation, buying your ticket. Even the low income ticket for the Burn is $160. Add on your tent, sleeping bag, or your share of an air-conditioned several-thousand-dollar RV. Tack on your granola bars, 2 Buck Chuck, sunscreen. It adds up. The planning and preparation is brutal. No matter how many years you’ve been doing this.
Which brings me to the ingenuity around profiting on Burning Man. I’m a capitalist so I like, I like. If people can come up with a need that others are willing to pay for, then the better for all parties involved.
Looks like a couple former chefs at Google started up their own catering company called Gastronaut. For Burning Man, they’ve got your meals covered. Some kind of freeze-dried concept where you put the package in a pot of boiling water and voila. Sustenance! Personally, I’d rather cook up my own Top Ramen for a couple cents, but hey, I know a lot of people who are buying from Gastronaut.
One of the camps (or several camps, I’m not sure) are bringing the French Quarter to Black Rock City. They are selling a 2nd floor luxury suite with a balcony for two people. The apartment comes with some pretty bad ass amenities like the newspaper brought to your door every morning, fresh-baked goods, breakfast cocktails, evening gumbo, wine, access to hot showers, and much more. Wowsers! I want to do this one year!! By the way, it looks like it’s still available. Jump on this, people!