Choosing Distributor / Buying In Bulk - Help!

Business By ALWardle Updated 3 Mar 2011 , 4:18pm by Uniqueask

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ALWardle Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 10:39pm
post #1 of 8

Hello, everyone!

I am brand-new to, so please bear with me if I am making any newbie gaffes. Your patience is appreciated! I've been lurking for months and gathering lots of great inspiration - and now I'm hoping you can help me with a question that literally is keeping me up at night:

My husband and I are opening a small bake shop in eastern PA in a matter of weeks. I've conquered the health inspection process, local zoning and planning, purchased the equipment, hired staff, the build-out is nearly complete (and we're still married!), but I can not get my head around finding foodservice distributors.

My problem is that - until we grow a bit - I don't think I can meet minimum order amounts ($300-500) for the suppliers who service my area. Maybe on the first order, but after I stock up, I'm not going to need that much in bulk on a weekly basis except for flour, sugar, and possibly cocoa powder. I've settled on a local supplier for the dairy/eggs end of things - it's the dry goods that are driving me mental. I've checked out Sam's Club, but their costs are still significantly higher for flour than what a local food distributor can give me.

Does anyone have any advice on how a small bake shop can get around this problem? Has anyone ordered from a distributor and used their UPS option to avoid the minimum order requirement? If so, what are the UPS charges like? How do you solve the problem of sourcing high-end ingredients when producers like King Arthur, Valrhona, Callebaut, etc. only supply through large distributors with high $$ minimum orders?

I would be forever grateful for any insights! Thank you!

7 replies
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leah_s Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 10:51pm
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I buy bulk flour, cocoa, fillings, baking powder from Dawn Foods - but I use their will call and pick it up myself. If any of your distributors have will call, that may be an option for you until your biz actually warrants delivery.

Other things I get from CK Products or BakeryCrafts.

PS It was a little thrill when I bought my first 50 pound bag of cake flour and a 10 pound can of baking powder.

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loriemoms Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 11:06pm
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I use Best Brands and just dont order every week. It doesnt take too long to build up the 400.00 mim. I have found eggs, milk and butter cheaper at Sams. (btw, have y'all seen the price of sugar lately? OMG!!!!!!!! )

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Kiddiekakes Posted 2 Mar 2011 , 11:39pm
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Yup..They said the price of sugar was gonna jump..Flour too here....Baking supplies have been expensive here for about 6 years now...I order my 80lb bags of icing sugar from Dawn foods and they have jumped from $35.00 4 years ago to over $80.00 now....Ouch!!

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platinumlady Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 12:20am
post #5 of 8

Thank you all for this information ... I've been online all day trying to find this information

@ALWardle thanks for this post

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Occther Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 12:37am
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When I started serving food at my coffee shop, I ran into a similar situation. You would be surprised how quickly you can get to a $400 order. Make sure to look at their entire product line because bakery supply companies may also carry paper products that you can use. A couple of companies to check out are Bakemark & GFS (Gordon Foods.) Also, check to see if you have smaller food distributors in your area. I discovered a local company that didn't carry everything but were great at special ordering items with their next order. Because they were already going to get a delivery, adding an item that I wanted didn't add anything to their delivery cost. And their prices were still very reasonable.

Also, invest in lots of airtight storage containers. I personally like the large 5 gallon white plastic food container with lids. That way, you can buy in larger quantities.

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ALWardle Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 3:54pm
post #7 of 8

Thank you all so much for the input! I'm so encouraged to know that my question isn't a completely ridiculous one, and by your comments about how quickly a shop can grow to meet the minimum order requirement. Phew!

Leah_S - Thanks for the tip about will call and the references to CK Products and BakeryCrafts. And I know what you mean about that little thrill - I still haven't stopped petting my new Blodgett Zephaire oven since it arrived last week!

Occther - Thank you for the recommendations on GFS, Bakemark, and the 5-gal. food containers. I have been trying to decided which containers to buy and I think I'll go with your idea.

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Uniqueask Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 4:18pm
post #8 of 8

I was going to say you would be suprise to see how fast the prices will add up, but everyone else already said it, and if your products are great you will need to order supplies every week, when I was in culinary school the chef ordered every week from Sysco, and another company named Quandts, and the culinary Class had a budget, I live in a small town.

For, all you have to do is go online fill out the application and fax the required documents to them, your DBA, and sales tax Cert, and you will get an account # in a few days, that's all it took for me to get my account, and their min, is $125.00. Good Luck with your Business.

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