Was thinking that I might start with the local farmer's market for cake pops or cupcakes. Can anyone give me any thoughts or experiences with this type of venue?
I've not done any in the 30+ yrs of my decorating. I have done a couple indoor 'craft fairs' around Christmas time and found little interest in baked goods xcept for what they wanted to snack on right on the spot.
I'm going to try a full season at a local farmer's market this year. Only once a month at this particular one. It really depends on the crowd. I did attend it once last year and it did alright, it was the last one and it was rainy. I would suggest having them packaged individually as well as in a pack of 4 or six. Also check the cost of the venue vs how much you could make. You may want to scope out the farmer's market first to get a feel for it.
Being part of our Farmer's Market was absolutely one of the best things I did to get started. I will say that the money was not fantastic, but the experience was priceless. It was a huge confidence booster, validated that my products were indeed good and worth selling and was a fairly risk-free way to test the waters and see if I really wanted to bake for a living. Some of my first customers are still a big part of my business.
Now for advice... Treat your booth as though it is your mini retail store-- do everything as you would if it were really a brick and mortar shop. Use attractive displays and keep things spotless. If you have any kind of branding or logo in mind, carry it through everything--your table covering, packaging, signage-- just like you would in a shop. Make it as welcoming and professional as you can.
Packaging is a really good idea-- easier on you and let's customers take items home. If they have to eat everything there, they may not buy. Plus, cute packaging is one more way to make yourself stand out. And depending on your state, it may eliminate the need for a hand washing station.
Do have samples if you can. I just did tiny squares of cake and frosting in little covered souffle cups from a restaurant supply store. With tiny plastic spoons.
Do not shortchange yourself on pricing! Charge what you need to make a profit. If your product is delicious, people will buy it (another way the samples are helpful)
Definitely use social media a few times a week -- let people know what you will be selling that week.
One thing that was frustrating was having leftovers that would not keep for the next week. Have a plan so you don't have to throw things away. I arranged with the Ronald McDonald House to donate my leftover goodies.
Last note (sorry this is so long!)... this is harder, scarier and more time consuming than it sounds. Especially the first Saturday. So, be ready for that and don't get discouraged because it can be worth it. Once you have a few weeks under your belt you'll be able to plan a good baking/packaging schedule.
This will be my first summer in three years not participating and I'll miss it. But business is good and, it is no longer the best thing for me to do. I hope my experience helps you decide if a market is for you-- good luck!