First, let me say that I am licensed. I just officially started my business March 1, 2009, so I'm very new to this and trying to spread the word that I'm here!
The neighboring town (we live right on the border) is holding their annual Strawberry Fest in June. As part of that, they have a Business Expo with vendor booths (10'x10') for $50. If it remains the same as last year, if you have a food license, you are allowed to sell food there too. I was thinking of having a booth to sell cupcakes at this year and pass out fliers/business cards.
If they allow this, how would I ever figure out how many cupcakes to have made ahead of time? The town has a population of approx. 30,000 people. I was planning to individually prepackage them, so I could just have a bunch of coolers stocked and grab them out as I need them. This is just a one-day event from 10am - 6pm.
Any thoughts, suggestions, etc. would be GREATLY appreciated!!!
Have you talked to the coordinators for the fair? They should be able to give you an idea of how many people attended last year and that will give you a place to start.
The price is great and for a one-day event, it's a great opportunity for you!
Some marketing things to consider..... Who are you competing with?
What other kinds of foods are going to be there? when I go to festivals, I tend to buy the foods I can't get everyday, like big pretzels, elephant ears, cotton candy, etc. You are competing with festival-foods.
Where will you be located? Main drag that everyone has to walk past and will see you or are they pushing the vendors in the Back-40?
Will there be churches and non-profits having 'bake-sale' tables? If I'm going to buy cupcakes or cookies at a festival, I'm probably going to buy from a non-profit who is trying to raise money for a missionary trip rather than a commercial vendor.
What is your purpose in getting a booth? Is it to sell cupcakes for the day or to get people aware of your business?
After you identify all of this, the most important question is "How do I stand out and get their attention?"
If it was me.......
I'd find out if I could do a drawing for a free 8" cake or something. When they fill out the drawing form, they would need to include an email address ("required") and the form would have a disclaimer of "Yes, I want to receive information on sales and specials". Use this to build your customer database. (Check out "Constant Contact" for easy monthly newsletter type of stuff).
Even tho' you're selling cupcakes, have a wedding cake dummy or two on display. The taller the better. It attracts their eye to your booth and get people talking about "Did you see that big cake over there?"
If the church group's bake-sale cupcakes are going to be there, they will probably be regular mom-cupcakes. Make yours unique and different. Can you do a strawberry theme since it's a strawberry festival? Make people ask, "Wow, where'd you get THAT cupcake?"
Do you know any other food vendors who were in this last year? Anyone who had a baked goods table or booth? how did they do? What kind of quantity did they bring? Obviously you don't need enough to feed the whole town, nor do you need enough to feed all of the festival attendees.
Thanks IndyDebi, those are some great points to consider. I left a message earlier today for the coordinator to give me a call back. Now I'll be armed with questions to ask him when he does call.
I'm open to all ideas and suggestions, so please keep them coming!
I was thinking of just offering 3 different kinds of cupcakes, 2 of my best sellers and the 3rd one a strawberry flavor of some sort.
First of all, Debi gave great advice on everything she said (as usual).
Just wanted to tell you that what you have going on there sounds SO much like our town's apple festival every October. We have about 25,000 people in our county and usually have about 10,000 - 12,000 come through. My DH and I ran a booth last year where I sold cake slices and passed out business cards. We also had several displays and framed pictures. Our space was 12'X8' (I think) and cost $100. It was WELL worth the investment. I have had lots of orders from it. We had a lot of expenses related to it (ingredients, hinged containers, displays, etc.) so we broke even on the day, but I can't tell you how many people have since called and said, "I picked up your card at the apple festival and wanted to order a cake."
We had several whole cakes (iced bundts) and the rest were slices. We probably sold about 350 slices. HTH
If you don't mind me asking, what type of a booth structure did you have? We are thinking of possibly getting a covered tent and just having 3 tables set up in a U shape, but we haven't purchase anything yet. We own several 6' rectangular folding tables, so we'd just have the expense of the tent. We are open to other ideas though.
I <3 you Debi!
Just for other random info, we have a big festival here in April. about 40,000 people come over 2 days. I asked some funnel cake people, and over the 2 days they average about 1,000- 1,500 funnel cakes going out.
Definitely have fliers and business cards. As far as marketing, you can't go wrong. Maybe even price your cupcakes very close to or right above cost as a festival special. You want people to buy them and think they are amazing and call you later, right? That's what I'm gathering... that it's not just about profiting on that one day, it's about getting your name out. Like Debi said, if I was going to buy a cupcake from a church bake sale or commercial place, I would probably go with the church... UNLESS you were offering something fantastic for not too much $$.
You could also have a tray of free samples, like 1/8th of a cupcake and toothpick stuck in it, so even if someone doesn't buy the whole cupcake, they get the taste, pick up a card...
clear boxes : http://www.uline.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?model=S-9729
I personally use these: http://www.uline.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?model=S-9597
I really don't want cupcakes when I go to the fair. I go there for all the greasy gross fattening food.
What about cream cheese brownies with strawberries. Ohh blondie ones with strawberries and cream. I would make some cupcakes, just not a lot. O.k. you know what else I would definitely buy is some cannoli's. I'm just thinking aloud on the cannoli's. I am starving, that's why.
I do think Debi's idea with the wedding cake and 3d kids cake is a really good. MAKE IT BIGGER, BADDER, MAKE IT AWESOME.
I've thought about packaging and haven't come up with a good solution yet. The boxes would definitely be easier to stack in coolers, etc. However, my husband doesn't like those because he thinks it's too hard to get the cupcake out of something like that without getting frosting all over your hand.
Plastic Container City had some nice one-pieced hinged plastic single cupcake containers, which were quite a bit more, but he really liked those. However, I just looked yesterday and they are discontinued due to some manufacturer's defect.
I had three rectangular tables. The one across the front was 8', one on the left side was 6' and one across the back was 6'.
On the front table, the order from left to right: framed pic of a cake, baby shower display, 8 slices of cake, wedding cake display, 8 slices of cake, groom's cake display, 8 slices of cake, birthday cake display, framed picture. Business cards were placed in front of each display.
On the side table I had the large sunflower wedding cake display (also in my photos) and my whole cakes with a sticker label indicating the flavor.
On the back table, I had the next set of slices ready to be put on the front table. I had a tablecloth on each table, but the wind required me to pin clothespins to the bottom to hold them in place.
Behind the back table, I rented drape dividers. I used shower curtain rings to hold a 6'X3' banner in place. We brought a canopy, but didn't use it because it blocked people from seeing the banner. We couldn't put the banner on the front of the canopy or it would've hidden the displays. I got my banner from our local print shop for $30.
Oh yeah, the three flavors I offered were chocolate pound with chocolate icing, lemon pound with buttercream, and WASC with buttercream. No fillings. I cut them smaller than a standard serving size would be and sold them for $1 per slice. Seems cheap, but it made more money than handing out free samples. My goal was to break even, then I could feel like I had a day of free advertising. Goal met. YAY!
I will definately be doing it again this year!
If you don't offer cannolis and designer brownies all the time... don't bring them to the festival with you to sell. Why on earth would you bring product that isn't the focus of your business? That's is just not a good plan. Then you will have people calling you looking for those amazing cannolis they had at the festival and you won't want to offer them. It defeats the purpose completely no?
I wasn't saying bring cannoli's. I was hungry and just talking about them, cause I was hungry.
Cupcakes are really "IN" right now. Label them "Gourmet" & people will buy! Just make some really jazzy, knock-out looking cupcakes & with a couple of standard flavors & a couple of "gourmet" flavors & you'll get noticed
Okay, I just talked to the organizer of the event and here's updated information. Last year, they had around 10,000 people attend this event. There are 35-40 different business vendors, however most if not all are informational booths only. I would be allowed to sell cupcakes and sodas, water, etc. That's not a problem. There are other food vendors, but not in the same vacinity. They are over more by the carnival ride area. There aren't any church/fundraiser booths in the area selling cakes, cupcakes etc. I'd be the only food vendor in my area.
With that new information, what would you guys suggest as far as number of cupcakes that I should bring to sell? I'm completely clueless! I don't want to make a huge amount and hardly sell any, but at the same time, if they do sell good, I'd hate to run out.
Does your health department require that you invidually package them? If not, may I suggest doing mini cupcakes. You could get several of those glass cake stands to put them in for display. Restock as needed. This will save you money on packaging, and it will allow you to make many more cupcakes at half the price. Little samples and inexpensive to attract more buyers.
Best of luck. I'm curious to know how well you do. I am thinking of trying our local farmers market to sell my gourmet cupcakes and want to know if there is a market out there.
First of all - $50 for an event that draws 10,000? Wow, what a great price!
Do you know any other vendors that have had booths previous years so you can get an idea on volume? If not, you really will be taking a shot in the dark. Get as much info as possible about the crowd volume through where your display is. I don't think it's to your benefit, however, to be the only food vendor in your area. When you head somewhere to eat, you head somewhere to eat and you look for the largest volume of food vendors. If you can get over with the others, I would.
If it were me, I'd probably start small my first year, and maybe estimate coming prepared with a cupcake for every 5 attendees. You just need to be prepared for either 1) running out or 2) absorbing costs/reducing profits if you don't sell.
Consider it a baseline year, with the primary goal of getting your name out there. Then, next year, based on your voume this year, you can adjust accordingly.
Couple of thoughts:
1. Cake balls with some of your different specialities may be another option. They're bite-sized and unique. Like IndyDebi said, we, too, wouldn't think of buying a cupcake when out with that kind of food. We tend to look for unique, different stuff than we can get anyplace.
2. If you do do the cupcakes, there's a strawberry chocolate mold. Perhaps a painted chocolate strawberry on top of the cupcake.
We are so jealous of you. Hope you make a killing.
Paul & Peter
I agree with msbutter, mini cupcakes are a great way to go. It's basically just like having samples but with no mess of cutting and serving the individual samples.
If I'm going to a fair type event I too will normally go for the food I can't get every where else....I'm usually so stuffed that there's no way I could eat a whole cupcake (or want to pay $2 for one). Also, if I'm in the market for a cake (or cupcakes) from your bakery I may want to try several flavors, that is much easier (and cheaper) to do with mini cupcakes.
Another positive thing about mini cupcakes is that they bake so much faster you can get a lot more done in the same amount of time.
How much would you sell the mini cupcakes for then? Just curious
I've been following this thread for a few days now and I think this might be a great opportunity for you! Good luck and let us know next month how it went for you.
You could also have a cake raffle and then you could develope your mailing list that way and get the word out at the same time .
Any updates to this event?