How Do You Sell Your Products Without A Store Front?

Business By sweetmo Updated 30 Oct 2015 , 3:30am by rowingmom

sweetmo Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 2:43pm
post #1 of 13

Excuse my "new-ness" to this forum. Perhaps this topic has been discussed; if so, I need assistance in finding it? When I enter the topic in the search box I just end up getting a bunch of gallery images. I digress...

THE CONUNDRUM:

I'll be renting commercial kitchen space starting next month (waaaahooo!). My situation is that it is without a store front. 

How can I get my product out in the marketplace so people can taste it, aside from random craft and fair shows? 

I will have a website and I am thinking about offering sample packages of cupcakes and cookies that people can purchase and have shipped to their homes.

Other than that, where would a good place be to meet potential clients for a tasting?

I plan on having my own store front within 3 years. I am lucky to have found the commercial kitchen that I did because real estate is at a premium where I live. 

Rather than wait for the very perfect scenario, I'm going to start my dream of having my own custom cake and cookie business now. I just need to figure out logistics of where to meet with clients. It's not the most professional situation, but I want to handle it as professionally as I can.

Any suggestions are GREATLY appreciated. Bake on!

12 replies
-K8memphis Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 3:48pm
post #2 of 13

for how to search -- after you get all the gallery photos -- click on "forum" and after clicking around a bit you might get a list -- i found this one that may have some good stuff in it --

http://www.cakecentral.com/newsearch?search=marketing&type=forum

as far as shipping -- you need to research that -- it is quite involved in the rules & regulations and shipping is quite expensive  -- most cookies/cupcakes have a minimal shelf life -- maybe not the best recipe --

what about a farmer's market stand to get the ball rolling? i'd give samples to restaurants and caterers too -- if you're going to do weddings give samples/business cards to venues and florists/photographers/coordinators/djs/etc. too

best to you

ps. you can do consults at coffee shops but only deliver samples to be eaten later

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 13 Oct 2015 , 3:50pm
sweetmo Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 4:20pm
post #3 of 13

Thanks K8memphis! Originally I was going to be selling at our year-round farmer's market and then the manager stopped returning my phone calls. I all but stalked him trying to pin down a time to set up, but he just stopped returning my calls even after he told me on 3 different occasions he had a booth available. Uggghhh... some kind of bad management there. 

Unfortunately all of the other farmer's markets in my county are closing for the season. I was told I could be put on a waiting list for next year but probably wouldn't be accepted since they already have people selling baked goods. Eegads. It's fall, I thought these markets would be open this time a year? I'll need to expand my search to neighboring counties.

It's been a 4 month journey of trying to pin down a place to sell, which is why I decided to just skip the cottage food law stuff and spend the money to work out of a commercial kitchen.

Long story longer, I'll keep searching for craft shows and other markets. Great idea to pass on samples to restaurants and caterers. I figured shipping samples will be convoluted and pricey, but was all I could come up with so far.

Thanks for the tips on the search too :)

-K8memphis Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 4:25pm
post #4 of 13

best to you with lots of sweet success 

MEGroverIII Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 4:33pm
post #5 of 13

I agree - giving samples to the usual wedding vendors is a great idea.  I would consider, too, dropping off business cards at local wedding dress boutiques and tuxedo shops (probably wouldn't hurt to bring them samples as well so they can speak to your abilities from first hand experience).  Perhaps not the big national stores, I imagine they would be opposed to such things.

Also, social media is a great way to get your style/talent/skills out there.  People obviously won't be able to taste your creations, but they will be able to see what you are capable of making.  Plus, it's a great way to let people know where you will be if they want to sample your cakes (i.e. wedding shows, craft fairs, etc.).

Good luck!

costumeczar Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 6:57pm
post #6 of 13

Are you just going to be doing smaller cakes and cookies, or weddings too? The marketing for the two kinds of cakes are pretty different.

Marielijah Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 8:31pm
post #7 of 13

Hi Sweetmo ~ What do you mean by "skip the cottage food law"?  Does that mean you are not licensed/registered?


sweetmo Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 9:02pm
post #8 of 13

Costumeczar, I do all of the above. My main concern is logistics: where to physically have the food available for tasting without a store front. I could certainly deliver samples, just looking for creative ways on how to sell myself without the store front. If I had to narrow it down, I primarily do party cakes and cookies.

sweetmo Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 9:13pm
post #9 of 13

Marielijah, what I meant by that comment was that although I'm grateful Maryland passed the cottage food law a few years back, it isn't working out for me. I cannot seem to find a farmer's market that has space available (or that is open year round) that will take me on. So enough of baking from home; I'm "skipping it" to move on to a commercial kitchen. I'm in the process of getting my state and county licenses right now (yippee!).  

Marielijah Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 9:17pm
post #10 of 13

Oh, got it...  Congratulations and good for you!

costumeczar Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 9:36pm
post #11 of 13

@Sweetmo, If you're only doing party cakes and cookies you don't even need to do tastings. (I'm working on a tasting appt guide right now so this is on my mind). Unless it's an order over a certain number of servings (whatever you decide as a minimum) it isn't going to be financially feasible to do tastings for small cakes time-wise. If you want to offer a tasting box, you could do that but charge for it and deliver the box. Or if you meet clients at Starbucks or another public place, give them the box of samples to take home. For larger cakes like weddings people expect to try samples, but there's no law that says you have to do the tasting at the meeting. For single-tiered cakes or cookies I wouldn't offer a tasting, that's not something that most people expect. If they do they're being pushy...But if you offer to charge them for a box of samples and they want to pay for it, you could do it so that you make a profit off of each box and sell them to whoever wants one.

sweetmo Posted 13 Oct 2015 , 9:51pm
post #12 of 13

Yes, costumeczar…that's kind of what I was thinking about the sample box for purchase and delivery (or perhaps even online order & ship if it's feasible). Phew, I feel a bit better now. I'm just trying to plan for everything before I even announce that I'm opening my business. I would definitely arrange a tasting (probably charge for that too) if it's regarding a wedding cake. Hmmm, meetings at Starbucks, sounds like a win-win! Fabulous advice all around, thanks!!  Good luck with your appt guide too. 

*Last edited by sweetmo on 13 Oct 2015 , 9:56pm
rowingmom Posted 30 Oct 2015 , 3:30am
post #13 of 13

A lot of caterers  and venues hold open houses.   I would suggest approaching them about offering samples there.  Giving them a sample of your product before hand would help give them confidence in your abilities.  Also get involved in any guilds or societies in your area that deal with wedding can help a lot. 

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