I have been observing a very puzzling trend and wanted to know if customers in other cities are doing likewise.
Mom and I rent tables at church flea markets to sell baking. Mom is the cookie expert and is particular that all baking is wrapped. She puts together tins of cookies (sometimes assorted, sometimes all one flavor) for a price. She will put 12-18 average-sized drop cookies on a [clean, never seen meat or fish] meat tray with a price of say $4. Larger shaped cookies get saran wrapped in a packet of 6 for $2. Prices and flavors are indicated on the package with stickers.
We have been doing this for a few years. For the past couple of months, potential customers are balking at the prices. They are under the impression the price is PER COOKIE. We have to explain over and over that the price is for the ENTIRE PACKAGE and there are x number of cookies in the package. "Oh no that's too many" and they walk away. This is a recurring problem with customers of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, but especially noticeable from children. One grandmother-granddaughter pair last year were convinced that a curly-looking dollar sign was an 8, and wondered why a package of cookies was priced at $83.00.
At our most common sale, we have become the only table exclusively devoted to food. Another lady, who had a bake table but seems to have given it up, sold all her cookies loose (large, bad tasting Subway-style cookies) for 75c each. We prefer not to do that and do NOT allow customers to break up existing packages.
while I'm sure we would all like to sell cookies for $4 EACH (and no I have not done so!) has anyone else had this problem, and how do you handle it?! I can't believe people can be this dumb!
It sounds like your labeling is confusing. Why not go to a standard sticker you can put on the package and if they don't understand your handwriting, there are computer programs. Or just use a larger price sticker.
No, people aren't confused. It has to be your label. When I go to our farmers markets, I see a package cookies covered in cellophane with a single tag reading $3.95, I get it. So does everyone else.
It sounds like the feedback from your customer base is pretty clear...reduce your package sizes and clarify your labels. A few "price lists" displayed in your booth would help, especially if they are typed up.
I'm confused as to why you don't want to sell them individually, you should be able to increase your profits by giving the individual cookie a higher price point, one cookie is a more justifiable impulse buy than a dozen.
Are you and your mother just doing this for fun? If not you may want to seriously evaluate your costs, once you take into account your labor (including baking and manning the booth) and overhead I would be surprised if you were making more than a couple dollars an hour.
Here's an example of our labelling. This was from a sale last year. We don't find it confusing at all. If anyone thinks the prices shown are per cookie, please pipe up!
(if this image link isn't working go to my gallery and look at the bake table photo)
Depending on the location, some places we do English-only labels and some have bilingual labels. We have not changed our labelling/packaging style, but tins have been downsized because anything over $5 is deemed too expensive by most of our customers. And if the stickers were any larger, they would obscure the food.
There was a period when we offered a baggie of two cookies for 50 cents. What we found was people would hum and haw over the choices, buy one baggie -- and nothing else. Whereas if the cheapest item you can buy is $1.50 or $2.00, the minimum sale suddenly goes up. And it makes our take much healthier.
Mom does not want to sell individually, partly for hygienic reasons and because the average cookie would be 25 cents. She wants to sell whole tins of cookies and bring in several dollars at once. And bring less food home!
As for "just for fun", well I do work full time (in I.T.) and mom is retired. Two sales per month, accessible by public transit (we don't drive) is about all we can manage. Our tables are 6 or 9 linear feet, so every square inch counts. I'm the salesgirl and the layout designer, I get paid in broken cookies.
some of those cookie arrangements have a lot of cookies. I wouldn't really want to buy that many of any cookie-especially if I was going to have to carry it around. You might try bagging the cookies in groups of 4-6 cookies (possibly in clear bags that could carry easily) and upping the price to $2 or $3 for 4 cookies and $3 or $4 for 6 cookies. Frankly, at something like a flea market, I'd much rather buy a small amount to munch on then a whole bunch. (I get not wanting to sell just one for $.25 though).
I'd also reconsider some of your packaging. those meat trays would be a pain to carry around while I was shopping for everything-You'd have to carry it flat. I think cellophane bag or a little box of some sort would be easier to handle and more attractive.
I agree with blueskies - - you're packaging too many cookies for what is a customarily impulse buy. I get that you want to do fewer and larger sales, but you also have to consider your target market. A grandmother/grandaughter duo would be more likely to buy a couple of cookies they can eat right now, than a half-dozen they would have to carry around with them. And you'll also have those who don't want to take any evidence home.
I agree with blueskies.
I also think people are attracted to things that look uniform and professional. Please take this in the spirit of helpfulness. I think you need a "look" for your table.
The cheapest way is to use a window bakery bag. (about .24 a piece) They are adorable and you should print up a sticker label with your logo, that's the same on each one.
Bakery boxes are more $, bigger and not easy to carry around when you are at a flea market.
Plain white bags with your logo stuck on would also work, and would allow for a variable number of cookies to be sold in each transaction. You could structure your pricing to incentivize larger purchases, e.g. $0.75 each, 3 for $2, 6 for $3, etc. or buy 2 get 1 free.
I agree, with what was said in Blueskies post.
I know that If I was a customer walking around in a flea market looking for some baked goods I wouldn't want to buy a large quantity of it. Where I live I can make large gourmet cookies and that would sell 1.50- 2.25 easy.
If your grandmother doesn't wanna make 0.25 per cookie. Go bigger like the large gourmet cookies found in bakeries and charge alot more