I Could Really Use Some Advice Here...(Long)

Business By Ladiesofthehouse Updated 29 Oct 2009 , 9:43pm by Ladiesofthehouse

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 10:53pm
post #1 of 16

I have been approved to sell at our holiday Artisan's Market the first weekend in December. It will run from set-up on Friday until the doors close on Sunday and all vendors are required to sign an agreement that they will stay set up and selling until it closes.

This is a very pricey market, with the majority of vendors selling high-priced Alaskan art, custom clothing, fiber arts, carvings, etc. I had to submit pictures and product before the committee decided to O.K. me. I am very pleased to be accepted to sell and I will be the first vendor selling edible items. I actually was able to get a very desirable spot, the first vendor to the right as you enter the venue.

My dilemma: we are expecting a minimum of 1500 visitors to come through over the weekend and the numbers are usually closer to 2000. How in the world do I determine the amount of stuff to make to sell?

My booth is 8 x 12 and I have an 8 foot table plus a friend is loaning me a metal baker's rack that I will display items on. I had a nice vinyl banner made with my name and website on it that I plan on hanging behind me. The venue provides nice table skirts and walls in between if they are needed.

I plan on making a dummy wedding cake for one end of the table and a dummy stacked birthday cake for the other end with order forms, prices, etc on clipboards near them.

I will be displaying several cookie bouquets for different occasions, again with order forms, prices, etc so people can see what they are and how they can be customized for any occasion. I am not planning on selling the display ones unless someone wants to buy them.

I purchased clear Solo cups with lids and plan on making cupcakes to sell inside the cups turned upside down--that way they can see the cupcakes and actually carry them around without making a mess through the rest of the market. This makes it easy for me to transport and stack them too ( I got this idea from here on CC)

I will make cut out cookies and sell plain and decorated ones individually bagged up so they are clean and look nice. Again, I will have forms and prices so people know they can order custom cookies for weddings, birthdays, etc

Another question: since my business is Grandma Tillie's Bakery, do you think I should also sell my breads, regular cakes, cinnamon rolls, etc? I want people to know what I sell since I am a newly opened legal kitchen as of this month, but I only have 8 feet of table space and the baker's rack to display.

I asked a friend today and she said OF COURSE you want to sell cinnamon rolls! She also suggested preparing several regular undecorated cakes (German Chocolate, Coconut, Carrot Cake, etc) to have for sale since they will be priced where everyone can afford them and they cold buy it to take home and have for dessert.

What would YOU buy at a weekend market that you know you were attending because of the high-end arts for sale there? Very few people know of me yet and I'd like to make a fantastic first impression and hopefully gather a ton of orders for the upcoming Christmas season!

Any help or advice would really help me get going with a plan here--I am all on my own with everything and I am feeling a little frantic as November rolls around and I don't have a solid plan in place.

15 replies
-Tubbs Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:06pm
post #2 of 16

Wow, that's a lot of traffic - great exposure for you! Hope you've got lots of business cards ready to give out.

In my (fairly limited) experience, people like to buy something they can eat there and then. Decorated cookies always go really well, especially if on sticks. I also sell out of dipped marshmallows on sticks. I'm sure those cupcakes you're planning will go well, and you may want to make larger boxes, maybe 4 to a box, for those who want to take them home to share with the family...

Regarding whether you should do breads etc. When will you bake? Cause you won't want to be baking rolls on Thursday that won't be sold until Sunday, right? I would stay stick to cookies and stuff that isn't so time sensitive. Also, in my experience, people want the more home-made looking stuff for cheap, but are more prepared to pay proper prices for 'fancier' looking items. Although having said that, if it's more of an artisan type market, people might actually prefer those kinds of rustic items to cutesy cookies - only you can know that from what you've seen before.

By the way, since space may be an issue, I'd say go for one dummy cake only. Great talking point, maybe do multiple techniques on it to get more bang for your buck!

I'm doing a market in November and plan on doing a fab gingerbread house which I will do a draw for. They put their name in a box to win it, and I get a local mailing list of people who like what I do!

AverageMom Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:12pm
post #3 of 16

I agree with Tubbs. People will want to buy things they can eat right away, that won't be too messy. Have photos (can you rig up a slide display behind you?) showing all your best stuff. Have brochures listing prices that people can take away with them. Best of luck!

LetThereBeCake07 Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:14pm
post #4 of 16

you can sell things by the slice. i would be more apt to buy a single cookie, cupcake or slice of cake to eat on the spot, more so than a dozen of something or even 6. I like the idea of being able to buy a piece of this or that...or sever peices of this or that.

I would have lots of business card and stuff too. maybe you could run a special that if they book an order at the venue that they would get a discount ot a free___, bring your calender and appointment book! i would also have them sign a guest book or do the drawing thing so you can get thier names and addresses.

cownsj Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:23pm
post #5 of 16

I'm thinking you need to have enough help to not only help sell, but to allow you to talk to prospective future customers about all your goodies. Having that opportunity to talk makes more of a personal contact with people that they will remember you better when it comes time to order a cake, etc., in the future.

MJoycake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:25pm
post #6 of 16

you can create more space on your table too depending on how you display things....you can get acrylic stands that are tall enough that you could put cupcakes under and on top of it, doubling that space. My family did pottery shows for many years, and we used apple crates (great to carry your wares in with and can be used for displaying as well) - apple crates may not be accessible where you are, but the idea of making more out of your table space is what i'm getting at.

Also, you may want to make up a shutterfly book (www.shutterfly.com) of some of the examples of cakes....like the poster above said - I'd do only one dummy cake, then you can have this book for people to flip through - again, it can be displayed open on a cookbook stand, or something of the like, so it's not taking much room on the table, but is there for people to look at and gives another piece of "height" on the table....you want to create a tiered display, so it's not all table height - you'll catch more people's attention.

Congrats on what is probably the best spot in the show! 1st booth on the right is very desirable - I wish you the best of luck!
(I'd be one of the people who'd be inclined to buy cinnamon rolls - esp if you brought them fresh on Friday to sell to people as their Saturday breakfast...maybe not bring those on the other two days)

Marci Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:46pm
post #7 of 16

If you have a cupcake stand or tiered cake stand, you may want to set it up so you can stack stuff on it to sell. The more grab and go (and eat while walking around) the better. I completely second the idea of having other people working the booth with you so you can meet and greet people without having to watch for sales. You may want to add bars like brownies and lemon bars and things like that. In the southern USA, that stuff flies out the racks - no idea about Alaska though.

On a side note, you may want to bake a bunch of stuff and freeze it in case you sell out on friday or saturday, then you can bring that stuff out for sunday.

newmansmom2004 Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:50pm
post #8 of 16

First of all CONGRATULATIONS!!! What an opportunity to kick off your business.

I just came from a market similar to what you're describing this past weekend and as far as food items, I like to purchase things that I can take home and enjoy so I'm the person that buys a box of toffee rather than one piece, or I'll buy a loaf of yummy pumpkin bread rather than a piece to eat directly.

I think I'd have both individual items and whole items (loaves of bread, whole cakes, etc.) available then inventory what sold the first day and go from there. If you sell more individually wrapped cookies, then break up a couple cookie bouquets and wrap up the individual cookies. If you're selling slices of cake but not whole cakes, cut up those whole cakes for day two but be sure to tell people they can order whole cakes if they want one. And have samples!!!

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 12:41am
post #9 of 16

See? This is why I love CC! You guys are just brilliant and have already thought of things I didn't.

I have recruited my 2 daughters (12 and 1icon_cool.gif to help me sell since they are both very people friendly and good with money. I am going to ask my pastor's wife too since she is kind of a people magnet. I am good at baking and decorating is something I love to do, but the people end of the business is really a stretch for me. I am so glad I can ask other people to make up for my inadequacies in that area!

If I did end up making whole cakes and cutting them up to sell individual slices, how would I sell them? I want my presentation to be very professional. I ordered a case of take out boxes that fold on the top, but they are paper and you can't see through them. Do you think that would be O.K.?

Thank you so much everybody--any more ideas, PLEASE keep them coming. I don't feel so panicked!

newmansmom2004 Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 1:43am
post #10 of 16

I think that would be fine to use the boxes you have. I'd cut the slices to order then the people will see what's going into the box. Just have signs out saying Whole Cake....$x.xx / By the slice.....$x.xx. Or something like that so people know you'll cut a cake if they want a slice - especially if the whole cakes aren't going as well.

jillmakescakes Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 1:52am
post #11 of 16

are you allowed to ask for additional tables to set up your booth a little differently?

Also, definitely maximize space by using different heights and stands to go vertical.

If your main goal is selling, consider less dummies, more photos (digital photo frames!)

When selling, will you only accept cash, or will you have a wireless credit card reader? You may sell some of your higher priced items, such as full size cakes, if you have multiple ways for people to pay. With this being a higher priced event, chances are people aren't carrying lots of cash.

Lastly, don't forget about the other vendors. Give them as many free samples as possible. You may even consider a sampler platter for each booth. This way they can try a little of everything and tell their clients to be sure to visit you on their way out, if they haven't already.

PS- congrats on being legal and on the great opportunity!!!!

awestervelt Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 2:17am
post #12 of 16

Just a thought but what about making a dummy cake that had a " split personality", one side be wedding cake and the other side be a party cake. This would save room but would probably be a pain in the butt to actually do. Good luck.

bfranzen Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:58pm
post #13 of 16

Congratulations on your upcoming event! I will be doing a similar event that same weekend. I did a fair like this in September and sold cookies, cinnamon rolls, kolaches (a fruit pastry), coffee cakes, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and scotcheroos. I baked 775 cookies and froze them early in the week, made 30 coffee cakes, 20 quick breads and 25 scotcheroos on Thursday and yeast items (approx 5 doz of each) on Friday. We sold out of everything on Saturday except for 10 doz cookies. I went home Saturday night and baked until early in the morning on Sunday to have more to take on Sunday and came home with less than a bread tote full of stuff.

It was a great weekend but I was exhausted for a week! Things that I did that helped/things I learned along the way:

1. Definitely plan on help--my husband and I both were crazy busy the entire time. He helped sell, but often replenished things and kept things neat, went to get quarters when we ran out, etc.

2. Bring gloves for handling items people buy to eat there (I had covered trays from Sam's club to hold my cookies, then I kept replenishing them from containers under the table) I had napkins for those who wanted to take a cookie and eat it and small baggies and large containers for take home. I had cinnamon rolls packaged to take along, not to eat there.

3. Depending on how you are pricing items, make sure to have lots of change/quarters available.

4. Make sure everything is clearly marked with prices so you are not constantly telling people your prices. I had cute little signs printed up on my printer with names and prices.

5. LOTS of business cards/brochures of items and prices.

6. I think a drawing is a great idea and I'm going to consider that for my upcoming booth as well.

Good luck!

Suzycakes Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 7:46pm
post #14 of 16

I have attended many craft shows and I run a craft show here in the spring - I don't sell my cakes or cookies - but have always helped friends with their wares - so from my experience here are my suggestions:

1. You can definitely keep more items stored under your table in bakery boxes or totes. You can also have more items stored in your vehicle or pull behind trailer in the parking lot to help with restocking. Arrive early each day to get a close parking spot.

2. What kind of backdrop to your booth will you have? You don't want your potential clients seeing the backside of your neighbors booth - so plan on putting up some type of a backdrop and decorate it - not a lot - but something to catch their attention. You can use pvc pipe and pvc elbows to make a 'rack' to hang a full size sheet over. Then you can hang a pretty wreath and or your company banner in front of this.

3. A give-away - is always a good idea! But be sure to put the sign up box and papers somewhere it won't be in the way of other customers getting to your table to buy what you are selling and to be able to talk to you. If you don't have room - then don't do one.

4. Then to help you carry all of your items in from your vehicle and back out - invest in a flat wagon with big wheels that will go through mud and/or snow easily. You can stack lots of boxes and containers on these - tie them down with bungee cords and take off! Saves lots of steps and time.

5. Another idea - if you have electricity available - bring a tart burner and burn a cinnamon or sugar cookie tart that will tickle their sense of smell and lead them right to you!

6. I definitely second the idea of stacking items on shelves of modules for added space - but anything you can get above the level of the booths next to you to catch customers eyes is a good thing.

7. If you can have more than 1 table - I would suggest having 3 - 8' tables - make an 'H" out of them - that way the clients can step off the aisle to 'come into your store' and shop without getting bumped by passerbys. Plus this gives you about 8' more of table space in front to display your items - but also keeps them close enough that noone will walk off with anything. This might be the best place to put the cake dummies and/or the giveaway box signups. Then you have 8' more table space on each side of you in back to hold more items that they can see and that much more space under the tables for extra food items. The only drawback to this set-up - is being able to get in and out of your booth - but if you end up with the perfect neighbor booth - you may be able to feed them cookies in exchange for using their booth as your personal pass-through.

8. Wear clothing that matches the season and having all helpers dressed accordingly is always noticed! Do your hair, makeup, etc - it's tough - especially by Sunday - but they won't buy if you don't look presentable!

9. Talk, talk, talk - A simple 'Hi - how are you?' can turn into a lot of $$$!

Good luck and have fun!


KHalstead Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:03pm
post #15 of 16

Just a thought, if you've got some plug ins maybe you should bring some of your cinnamon rolls (unbaked) and bake them up in a toaster oven! The smell will draw them in as soon as they walk in!

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 9:43pm
post #16 of 16

Thank you so much everybody for your fantastic ideas! You have no idea how much it helps to talk things through like this with like-minded people.

I have a sewing friend making matching aprons with my bakery name on them that everybody will be wearing and I have ordered a lot of business cards. Wow color brochures are expensive! I made them myself on the computer but having them printed in full color--ouch. That is one of the reasons I am having my webmaster finish my website. I can send them to that for free and they can browse to their heart's content.

Again, thank you for all of your help. I am actually looking forward to November now! icon_lol.gif

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