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Bake sale disappointment / "Beautiful things" do n

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Dear everyone,

I've come home from a bake sale today, very discouraged. My mom and I had a table at a church "flea market", 9 feet of space. We spent a good 2 weeks preparing goodies -- every night this week I came home from work and made icing, since Mom had baked all day and was tiring herself out. We lugged it down there in 2 lots on Friday night and Saturday morning: 3 bundle buggies and 2 large shopping bags, on the bus and subway.

Now for the "disaster" part: The amount of money we brought in, I make more in one day at the office. icon_sad.gif

The church has a popular flea market once a month and rents tables to outsdiers. They have nice things, good second hand china, handicrafts, jewellery, not shabby stuff. We had been assured by parishioners that home baking would be a huge hit, and we would also sell the night before to the workers setting up. We knew there was another lady who did a small amount of baking and all her profits went to breast cancer, as well as another table of chocolate and fudge. So we endeavored to have different items so as not to compete directly.

Mom is a cookie person so she had tins of cookies (assorted and solid flavors) as well as packets of 6-8. I am a cake person and we had 5 flavors of cupcakes, plus one small cake and one Thanksgiving theme cake. Plus other items like butter tarts, sweet loaves, white chocolate fudge, 3 kinds of muffins, and sweet red pepper relish. A very colorful spread, with something we thought would please everyone. And everything was wrapped for hygiene reasons.

We've done bake tables before, but this was the first time at this particular church. yes you find a way to get used to the people going "I don' eat sweets, I'm diabetic, I have stomach problems etc etc etc". Everyone who passed by today went "oooh everything is sooooo beautiful" but it was very difficult to motivate people to buy.

We had hoped this would be a monthly thing so I wrote down what people were requesting: Plain food. No mixing flavors: e.g. have chocolate cupcakes, or raspberry cupcakes, but no chocolate raspberry cupcakes. (never mind that the raspberries are fresh from our garden and the chocolate was Lindt) No cherries! No cranberries! (so much for that great special on Craisins at the drugstore)

I can count on one hand how many cupcakes we sold. And the other hand for the muffins. Of course it didn't help that the lady selling for breast cancer had muffins at 50 cents and ours were $1.50. And our chocolate cupcakes got squished. thumbsdown.gif The only reason the small maple almond cake sold is because someone bought it for a potluck dinner -- otherwise you tell people about the real maple syrup, ground almonds, and 35% cream in the icing and it freaks them out, instead of making their mouths water. icon_sad.gif The Thanksgiving pumpkin cake is going to be "recycled" as my birthday cake. (insert smiley of choice here)

So the verdict is No for November (particularly as no one would want halloween stuff on Nov 1) and a maybe for December.

Has anyone has as bad a time at a bake sale as us? it's terribly perplexing for me.
post #2 of 44
I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. Don't give up so quickly though. Try making more basic things in bulk to sell and maybe give a free sample bite of your more complicated things. After a while you'll probably have converts. I'm kind of like that too...hesitant to buy something in a restaurant if I don't know if I'll like it or not. All it takes is someone to have me try something new to make me order it next time. I'm kind of like a kid that way. thumbs_up.gif
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 
btw the subject line got cut off, it shoud read "Beautiful things don't sell?"
post #4 of 44
My friend and I had a similar thing...were told that this certain craft sale would have over a thousand visitors, and did very well. We worked all week making cookies...I did flower pots and my friend did various ones more towards kids.

Like five cookies sold the entire week! And the owner turned up her nose at the $3/each price tag (large cookies, mine were on sticks).

Never again....and I don't even much care to do cookies.
post #5 of 44
At my mother's office they had a craft sale last year, and I made several things, cookies being of them. I thought they would sale out so fast, but was mistaken...I took like 5-6 half dozen packs home and was like ugh. But I will tell you that having a sample of some of your goods helps out so much. Spending some money having samples helps in the long run of making money!
Jasmine

...Cakin is the way...
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Jasmine

...Cakin is the way...
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post #6 of 44
Oh wow I'm sorry to hear this. I super disgusted because you lugged all your wares on the bus and subway which couldn't have been fun.

I agreed awhile ago to do some things for a bake sale this coming Thursday. I ASSUMED that people would jump on home baked goods. I'll make sure to send basic things and not spend a lot of time or money making them (it's for charity)
Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.

I'll always love and miss you!
Taylor Lynn Wooten 4/11/08
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Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.

I'll always love and miss you!
Taylor Lynn Wooten 4/11/08
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post #7 of 44
I had a similar problem at a school "fair". I was the only baker, but the high school kids were selling some baking for a fund raiser in another part of the building (2 separate sites). Not many people came out because of the weather, and people who were in one part of the building didn't want to come over to the other side because the rain was so bad between the sites. I sold about a quarter of what I made. but I sold out of Mini-cupcakes.
So now I am doing a Christmas sale and ONLY bringing 30 gingerbread house kits (3 different styles), at $20 each (candy and RI and green icing included).
I think that you have to figure out who your audience is, and how much they will pay, and go from there. IF I went back to the school, I would ONLY do mini cupcakes, and take orders for the regular sizes. Figure out what you did that was original, and what sold the best, and then ONLY do that. And make about half of what you think you need, and when you sell out, then you just look that much better "Oh, so sorry, we were SO busy we sold out!!! Need to come earlier next month!"
Good luck, and don't give up, just figure out how to make the most of your talents!
Eat Smart... Eat Cake!!!
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Eat Smart... Eat Cake!!!
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post #8 of 44
Your baked and other offerings sound wonderful. icon_biggrin.gif

However, I don't think a craft fair is a great venue for marketing anything "gourmet" or "upscale"....
(Unless the craft fair site is on Rodeo Drive.) icon_lol.gif

In my experience, craft fairs draw bargain hunters who are looking for a "deal" and primarily shop by price point.

JMHO
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JanH

In my experience, craft fairs draw bargain hunters who are looking for a "deal" and primarily shop by price point.


I agree. back when I used to even allow my family to buy at flea/farmers markets or bake sales (once i took the food safe course, these places became off limits!), I would be looking for the "comfort food" type of things. My tried and true favorites that I just loved but didn't want to take the time to make.

"There's nothing like a good chocolate chip cookie" is the thought process .... so while I'm sure your pumpkin cake was good ..... it's not what I'm shopping for.

A good example of "know your market". It has nothing to do with what you WANT to sell .... it has everything to do with what THEY want to BUY.
post #10 of 44
So sorry you went to all that work to be so disappointed. Your stuff sounds absolutely delicious to me! But, I think that is the wrong situation for upscale, gourmet items. At a craft fair/bake sale, people are going to want something very basic that they are familiar with, and something cheap to satisfy their immediate hunger, or to pacify whiney kids that they've had to drag along. They will admire pretty things, but not want to pay that much for something that they're going to eat right then, and they probaby figure anything pretty would get smooshed up by the time they get home with it. If you decide to try it again, I'd do more basic items with cheaper ingredients that you can price lower. Try offering samples to get things going, like cookies cut into quarters, cubes of cake or muffins, tiny bits of fudge. Just enough for them to get a taste and want more.
Jen
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Jen
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post #11 of 44
I'm sure your goodies were tasty and beautiful, but perhaps not what people were expecting. I'm guessing the average person at a craft fair might be looking for a snack rather than a gourmet dessert. Personally I'd stick to the (rather boring) basics - individually wrapped brownies, cupcakes in every day flavors without fancy decor, single big cookies - things people can grab and snack on while they shop. Just my opinion.
...will there be cake?
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...will there be cake?
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post #12 of 44
I, too, am sorry that this didn't work out better for you. I would have to agree that high end goods were probably not what the bargain shoppers were looking for (as I am one of them icon_biggrin.gif).

I have always felt that making old standards such as chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, brownies, old fashioned cupcakes, etc. but doing them exceptionally well was a better choice then offering the more fancy flavor choices. Not everyone can appreciate them. And you may have been using premium ingredients but sadly, you weren't selling to premium customers, if you get what I mean. No insult intended to them, of course, but sometime a meat & potatoes menu is the best choice.

On another note, my mouth watered at the descriptions you gave of your goodies. icon_smile.gif Don't give up - I bet with a little tweaking, you can have the most popular booth around.
post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your feedback. I do want to clarify that our booth wasn't all fancy frou-frou. Or at least, it was not the intention to be fancy frou-frou. We know that different things work in different places. A bunch of university students will shop differently from a bunch of senior citizens. Fudge normally flies off the table at church sales: in our parish, you can't even sell it by the piece. Lots of people loooove chocolate and our brownies were at least 25% cheaper than Starbucks, Second Cup, or Java U. We charged less than half for our cupcakes than the cupcake shops do. At our church we could take a pastry box and fill it up: 6 of this muffin, 4 of that cookie, something to fill in that little empty space there? But other places, people won't shop in volume like that.

At our last bazaar in Decmeber, by request of the organizer, all our baking had to be organic, fair trade chocolate, etc. Vegetarian/Vegan items were encouraged. After the obligatory grooooans.....We shopped carefully, priced it out appropraitely, warned the organizer of higher prices (who assured us the customers would pay the extra) and did soso. Mostly one off things people stuffed in their face right away. (But they aren't expected to have that bazaar again, and chasing down organic everything was a pain)

Sampling had been given a thumbs down by mom before we went. Not only did we not have broken products but from our experience, sampling does not turn into sales. people just grab the freebies.

And Mom and I both are attracted to nicely displayed and packaged food. Homemade, restaurants, grocery, whatever. (No wonder I love cake decorating!) That will be ME with my nose pressed to the dessert case going oooo lookie lookie like the biggest kid! If it looks good, chances are we will buy it, so we believe other people will too.

Some bake tables sell out in an hour: it's NEVER happened to any I've contributed to. I wish that would happen to me someday!


P.S. For anyone who needs a visual aid, go to my Webshots page, click on Marlene's Sugar Portfolio (that's my mom) and look at the first picture. That was our bake table.
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwarren

... sampling does not turn into sales. people just grab the freebies.


shoot, just stand around Sam's on a Saturday or Sunday, when the ladies have their samples stands in the aisles. People go shopping on those days so they can get a free lunch! Like a lot of you folks, I'm in there ALL the time and being a people watcher, I take a few minutes to "observe" .... rarely do I see anyone take the sample, then walk to the freezer and pull out a box. I'm sure they sell a few from the samples .... but pretty much it's Free Lunch Day.
post #15 of 44
I've been selling at flea markets for about 3 years and I've learned a few things. I looked at your table and its nice but its too full. People dont feel like stopping all the time to see what you have. Try adding a few things at a time. Like I do cookies and I will do 6 different flavors, chocolate chip, chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, oatmeal butterscotch, peanut butter, and a specialty cookie. The specialty cookie changes with the season. Then I added on breads. I do zuchinni and banana. Then I added on pound cake and I just added cupcakes. I only do one regular cupcake like chocolate or yellow. Nothing crazy. Trust me start small. Dont take so much product until you know how an event is and make notes for next year. I only do one batch of each cookie at first then as my demand increases I add on more. It will save you money and time. I also freeze my breads so I can resale them the following week. I also dont bring cookie tins or anything gift like because it doesnt sell. I give out my business card and tell them I do cookie tins and I may have one on display. I let my customers order and they have to leave a deposit, name, phone number and address. Good Luck.
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