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my day at the Farmers Market

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
I haven't really been on CC for a while because I've been busy baking!
This past saturday morning I had a spot at the Farmers Market. I thought that I would share the experience just in case anyone was interested. (I know that there have been posts about markets before)

To start with our market is in a cute and affluent town just out side of a big metro area (Indy) and it has a lot of bakers.

something that I observed before getting my spot was that presentation is REALLY important. There is a local extablished baker there that is pretty famous at the market (even written up in local papers/magazines). She has a great theme/style for her business --'like mom (from the 50's) used to make,' only better. she uses vintage fabrics, cake stands and vintage aprons to dress her space. (very cute and very good stuff). her booth is always busy. on the other hand, a local bakery came out to the market and just put up a table with a few pastries on display. I didn't see anyone stop at their table.

The famous cupcake lady was on vacation, opening a spot for me (the market is fully booked). since she is the cupcake lady, I thought that I would focus more on my cakes and cookies - although I did plan on bringing some cupcakes. if you've seen my webpage you know that my color scheme is blue (which I'd hoped would help differientiate from the other baker's pink) and whimiscal up-scale.

here's a decription of what I went through to set up my space on a weeks notice...
first folding tables - Costco $50 for the large one and $35 for the small one.

next display pieces - I have several cake stands and platters that I LOVE, but I did have to narrow it down for color scheme and space. the trouble is that I don't have covers. I scoured the internet and found a local restaurant supply place that had what I wanted in stock. I bought two plastic cake domes and two plastic sheet pan domes (for cupcakes and muffins). those were way more $$ than I thought. I also bought little sliver table marker thingies to hold cards with prices, etc. I wanted to buy my table clothes from them but they weren't instock. I ended up buying a couple white table cloths at Kohls on sale.

boxes - I have large white bakery boxes, but that wasn't going to work for little items. I ended up buying blue lunch/grocery bags, white and blue polka-dot gable top boxes (large enough to hold about 6 cupcakes), the largest of the clear plastic boxes for my cakes, and a bunch of blue and white ribbon (papermart.com). I did this the day after I found out about the market spot so I was able to get them via standard shipping - just barely.

banner - luckly I have all my own artwork and quickly whipped something up on vistaprint, but I still had to pay rush shipping. (it was about $25)

tent - grrr. after everything that I had to buy, I didn't want to spend $200 on an e-z up tent. I tried to borrow one but couldn't find anyone. then I said something to my mom the day before market day, and she said 'we have two for football season' - so amazing DH drove an hour to pick it up friday night!

now for the baking. I had NO idea how much to bake. it turned out pretty close, though. our market master repeatedly asked me to have 'breakfest' items, so I tested out some great muffin recipes from the Whimsical Bakehouse. I made about 1dz of three types. I got really good reviews from these, and sold about 2 dz. (took the others home for breakfest with visiting family) for my signature work, my cookies, I made about 5 dz decorated cookies. (bumble bees, sunflowers, frogs, crowns, butterflies, and since it's little league season - baseballs) I sold about 4 dz, and the animals and baseballs were definately the favorites with the kids. I also noticed that no one sold basic chocolate-chip cookies. so I made those and oatmeal raisin cookies (my favorite) bagged in groups of 6. sold out of those. finally the really show-y pieces - the cakes. I made 5 cakes. 2 - 5" round cakes and 3 - 4" round cakes. the remaining batter made 4dz cupcakes. people were definately drawn to the cakes and I sold 4. my cupcakes were simple, but I put RI butterflies and stars on them. again, presentation is so important. the kids were totally drawn to the butterflies.

finally, I also made samples. I made mini chocolate cupcakes with a swirl of chocolate-hazelnut icing (big flavor punch, as opposed to vanilla), and mini NFSC cookies with a swirl of leftover icing colors. I wanted to draw people and keep people at my booth -- being new. and, I've noticed that when I tell people that I do cakes, etc, I get at 'that's nice' but when I send my cupcakes somewhere I get a 'oh my gosh, holy cow, can I order next week?' while I don't think it was a huge benefit, it definitely convinced some customers. also a few people loved the taste of the cookies a lot, but thought that the big cookies weren't 'adult' so they suggested that I bag a bunch of the minis. I think that I'll do think next time.

I had several comments about how pretty my booth was, which made me happy after all the thought that went into it. (I had it set up in my dining room while trying to figure stuff out)
I also sold most of my stuff - enough that nothing really went to waste.
my booth was busy pretty much the entire time, and I got 6 calls/emails for orders yesterday.
it was kind of a sureal experience for me. I've been getting paid for my cakes/cookies for about 1 1/2 years, but the quick sale for cash in that environment was totally different for me. that really made me feel like I was 'in business.' (hubby felt the same way)
all good.

the part that I struggle with is the time. I worked my butt off staying up until after midnight every day last week (and until 3:30am on friday). and I made just enough to cover all the setup costs. (I mean the tables, etc, not the measly $10 spot fee). so much for a part time job. sigh.

hope to get a spot in a couple weeks. I also hope that 'just the baking' won't take so long.

anyway, if you'd like to see my booth, I posted pictures on my blog:
http://poshpastries.blogspot.com/2009/06/farmers-market.html

and if you have any questions, please ask away!
'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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post #2 of 67
Jenn - I looked at your blog and your setup was amazing! Your cakes and cupcakes were awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience at the Farmer's market with us. I know that you spent a lot of money and only covered your setup costs. BUT it sounds like the Farmer's market will be calling you again, and the next time you'll be making a profit! Not to mention, you got some orders out of it, which will probably turn into more cakes down the road. So it sounds to me like your investment was worth it!

Congrats! That table setup was just gorgeous!
post #3 of 67
Everything looks so cute and yummy! I'm glad you had such a positive experience icon_smile.gif

Thanks for sharing your experience with the whole thing. I've been contemplating a farmer's market, but had no clue where to start. Atleast now I have a few guidelines icon_smile.gif

I bet you'll have even more success at the next one, especially now that your name is out there icon_smile.gif Good luck!
Samantha
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Samantha
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post #4 of 67
Where did you find the cute little silver price stands? And did you make your price tags with a cricut? And where did you get those sweet plastic containers for the cakes?

LOL. I hope I'm not bothering you with all my questions!
post #5 of 67
Thread Starter 
of course I don't mind, that's why I posted.

the price tags were 'table number markers' from a local restaurant supply (but I found them online too - just no time to order). they were $.70 each.
the price cards I made in MS powerpoint, printed them on cardstock and cut them with a extra large hole punch (Michaels, 2", 2.5", 3") -- the really large circles I cut by hand.

the plastic boxes are from papermart.com
those are the largest two that they make.
5x5x7" and 7x7x9" and they come with the gold bottom.
(I think that they are $.87 and $1.2? each)
obviously I would have liked something cheaper, but I really wanted a clear plastic box, for display, and travel.

plus when customers carried the box off it was great advertising.

the cakes needed to be fondant for that, because it was a little tricky getting the box over the cake without bumping it. (I put the cake in and closed it from the bottom)
'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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post #6 of 67
I just looked at your pictures and everything looks amazing....I have never been to a farmers market with a booth like that icon_eek.gif . Your prices were also great, I would have definately been going home with a few items if I were there. It was a very interesting read....thanks thumbs_up.gif I also feel your pain about breaking even, there is always so much work and sleepless nights, you feel like you should be getting paid alot more! Its definately a labour of love. Hope next time you come out on top.
live...love...laugh
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live...love...laugh
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post #7 of 67
Your booth looks great.
Made my mouth water.
There are definitely no booths like that at any of my local farmer's markets.
I wish there were, but then again I'd probably gain quite a few pounds.

I do art shows so I totally understand about the time and cost involved.
However, your setup costs are now basically done.
You won't be shelling out money for containers or the sign holders or most other things anymore, so you will be able to start seeing better returns soon.

As far as tents, keep an eye out on craigslist, thats how I got mine.

Congrats and keep up the good work.
I love your frog cookie and the coffe cake looks delicious
For in the end we will protect only what we love, love only what we understand, and understand only what we are taught.
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For in the end we will protect only what we love, love only what we understand, and understand only what we are taught.
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post #8 of 67
I just checked out your blog and you are definitely the " COOKIE QUEEN! " Very nice set up at your market. Your work is perfection! Nice job on everything!
Wish we had something like that here. I live in a very small town in the country with one stoplight and a post office about as big as most people's dining room. If you think I am joking, just check out the attached picture!
I have this picture on my desktop, it shows up much better there but you can get the point. It's the building in the foreground.
LL
post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenWhitlock

of course I don't mind, that's why I posted.

the price tags were 'table number markers' from a local restaurant supply (but I found them online too - just no time to order). they were $.70 each.
the price cards I made in MS powerpoint, printed them on cardstock and cut them with a extra large hole punch (Michaels, 2", 2.5", 3") -- the really large circles I cut by hand.

the plastic boxes are from papermart.com
those are the largest two that they make.
5x5x7" and 7x7x9" and they come with the gold bottom.
(I think that they are $.87 and $1.2? each)
obviously I would have liked something cheaper, but I really wanted a clear plastic box, for display, and travel.

plus when customers carried the box off it was great advertising.

the cakes needed to be fondant for that, because it was a little tricky getting the box over the cake without bumping it. (I put the cake in and closed it from the bottom)



Thanks for the info Jen! Again, you just did an outstanding job! icon_biggrin.gif
post #10 of 67
just checked out your blog...could you be any cuter...lol! your tables look great, very professional. the signage is fabulous! your products look great! i give you a couple weeks of being at the market, and they'll come requesting you. your work stands is amazing. great job jen. keep it up!!!!! maybe i'll have to take a road trip next time you're showing.....
There are no excuses for success!
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There are no excuses for success!
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post #11 of 67
Thread Starter 
thank you all so much.
I just wanted to give info to others out there thinking about something like this.
and like I said, I think that presentation is so important, I really had the same essentials as the others (table, tablecloth, pricing... but the colors and font etc, make a difference, I think...)

btw, thank you kneadacookie, you are so sweet and I'm always humbled when you comment on my stuff!
'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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post #12 of 67
Just beautiful! You really pulled together an appealing (and appetizing) package! Your offerings and type of presentation are things I really miss about farmers' markets in the US. (UK towns all have markets, most one day a week, but you don't see much like your set up.)

I hope that you keep doing the markets and that they become profitable for you. Please keep up posted.

Darn, another blog I have to read... icon_wink.gif
You can take the girl out of Minnesota, but you can't take Minnesota out of the girl!
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You can take the girl out of Minnesota, but you can't take Minnesota out of the girl!
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post #13 of 67
That was so beautiful. I love the crisp white tablecloths standing against the cakes. It really made them pop. I am sure that you know that but. I also love the tags that you used such a unique and professional way. Oh forget it I just love the whole thing!!!
Failure is not an option!!
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Failure is not an option!!
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post #14 of 67
boy oh boy does that get the ideas flowing!! GORGEOUS set up!!

I liked the plastic lift up lid on the cupcakes - would you mind sharing where you found those?

The packaging for those cakes is perfet - you can tell you invested a lot of time to make sure it looked perfect. I wish you continued good luck with it!!
Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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Knowledge is a candle that when shared, doubles the light, but the insecure person believes knowledge is a candle that is diminished when it is split between two wicks.
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post #15 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

I liked the plastic lift up lid on the cupcakes - would you mind sharing where you found those?


I saw other bakers use these so it became a mission to find them!
this is where I first found them:
http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/buffet-line/display-covers/c12232.aspx
but I didn't want to ship on a short time line, so I bought them local at:
http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Dome-Food-Covers-c78g1061.html

HTH!
'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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'Why sleep when you can bake!'
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