There is always someone just looking for free stuff. I usually point out that it's ment just for a small taste and if they'd like more then can set up a consultation on a later date :)
I've only done 2 bridal shows and I would be careful about setting limits on your samples. I was worried about that too, but it's better to appear generous than stingy. Luckily, I've had more than enough at both shows. I gave some to every vendor there towards the end of the show. I also noticed people coming back for 2nds and 3rds and always told them to take as many as they wanted, regardless of who they were. I think people notice. In fact, at my first show I made a few vendor friends and one, a florist, told me that the other caker there wouldn't give her mother a sample. She told her that her samples were only for brides. That left a bad taste in her mouth! She said she would never recommend her to anyone. She ended up putting me up on her website as one of her preferred vendors. Someone wanting your samples may not be a bride, but you never know who they might recommend you to. Here's my booth from my 2nd expo from last week:
I was nice to all the vendors and non-brides. The ladies at the booth next to me had an event decor company. By the end of the show, she asked me if I wanted to have a cake on display in her meeting room her as well as her show room! She loved the look of my cakes and the taste of my samples, so she was sold. I was also very nice to her, which I think sealed the deal :) The event coordinator actually said by the end of the day that she would be recommending me to her customers also. It pays to be nice to everyone!
Oh, I looove your pink and diamond cake! Adore it! I think thats what I was most upset about, is that my booth stayed so busy the entire time, that toward the end when I had a chance to meet all of the vendors, I didn't have any samples to give them to match the cakes they were "ooh-ing and aaah-ing" over. I will say I was glad they came by and met me, they haven't been very impressed with the bakers around town, lately. I will most definitely take MORE than enough samples next year and even reserve a box full under the table for vendors just in case I run out. But I totally see what you mean about appearing generous, rather than stingy! Before the show when I was reading through this forum I thought "really, little soufflé cups? How likely is it that a bride will want to take home the cake instead of eat it right there? Sounds like wasted money to me, but okay" but it was honestly about 50/50! With grocery stores that can afford to write off their losses and giving out 2x2 pieces of cake, brides were so happy that they were able to take home the cake, instead! And many called me saying they didn't eat it till the next day and it was still moist and delicious. It's always great to get advice from people who have done this stuff years before!
Thank you LaurenSadler! I wanted a "blingy" cake up high to get people's attention :)
That's a good idea about having a reserve for the vendors. It's definitely a good strategy to get in good with other vendors.
BTW, your cakes looked fantastic!
Oh, and I know what you mean about people touching the cakes. Both shows I've done, people just like to touch! I kept saying to my husband, "If they were at a wedding, would they just go up and touch the wedding cake? No, right? WTH?!" I don't get it. It's food (at least it's supposed to be, assuming you don't announce that they're dummies)! You don't touch other people's food! I thought about putting signs up saying "don't touch" but people said that the negative signs would be a bad idea. Maybe a different twist to it like, "yes, the flowers are edible and very delicate and may break." I don't know. Some people don't read signs anyway! Lol. You can't control everyone.
I also decided not to post prices this year, like I did last year, for the exact reason you said. And, yes, I still had people that wanted a number, even after I tried to wiggle out of it by saying the servings sizes and design will determine the price of your cake, which may not be this exact cake in front of you, blah blah blah. What are ya gonna do? Lol :)