Alright - I need to VENT and I figured this current thread will do...
I just did a show yesterday. I posted before that I had only done one event in the past, it was much bigger and I had much higher hopes for the event I was doing this weekend because it was a more targeted crowd, local vendors etc. I can now say, for about 95% sure, I will NEVER do another show again.
I'll try to keep my issues in bullet points:
- Must provide cake samples. They wanted 2 FULL sheet cakes because they wanted to cut 2x2 pieces and wanted to serve 200 pieces after the fashion show with champagne. I told them I though that was a LOT of cake. But since I've gotten almost sued from an event that I did in the past where I didn't bring enough cake and the contract I signed said I was guaranteeing a certain number of cake samples, I did as told.
- They managed to get 4 other cake vendors, all were also providing cake. I was told that they were going to keep everything very organized to keep everyone's cake separate. They told me they've done this many times before and know what they are doing.
- I made 3 cake displays in 6 days (My fault - I waited until after ICES to see what newfangled toys I could bring home). I wasn't able to start work on any of them until about 6 pm each night when my husband came home and I was filling regular orders at the same time. I got very little sleep this past week.
OK, now for what happened:
- A lot of people that bought tickets didn't stay till then end. I guess the promise of cake and champagne wasn't enough to get people to stick around for 4 hours. Go figure.
- The catering staff waited until it was time to serve the cake to start cutting the cakes in the kitchen. They were wheeling one cart of cake out at a time. Well, they never made it to the tables that were set out because the hungry mob starting grabbing cake off the carts as soon as they got out of the kitchen.
- Each vendor was supposed to have a color-coded plate that they put the cake on so the mob could tell which vendor they were eating. Well, they didn't buy enough plates. I guess doing simple math like 200 servings x 5 vendors = number of plates to buy was WAY above someone's pay scale, so they only bought 120 plates of each color. When they ran out of colored plates, they just started using white plates left over from the hor d'oeuvres from earlier, but there weren't that many. Then ran out of plates. They also ran out of forks way before they ran out of plates.
- When they ran out of plates, they told the mob THEY RAN OUT OF CAKE. In 5 minutes the place was empty. I go back in the kitchen... and I had an ENTIRE FULL SHEET CAKE that they didn't even serve. The most irritating part was I was the only vendor dumb enough to do as told - everyone else only brought 1 full sheet, so although they has some cake left, they didn't have nearly as much as me.
- Oh, and they were telling other vendors that cake was for guests only. I personally had to grab my cake as it was coming out of the kitchen to pass out to the vendors around me.
To say I was livid is an understatement. They had us pre-score the cakes so I know exactly how many servings went out. And I scored them 1" x 2" because I though 2x2 was too big. It was about 150 servings. and I passed out a good 15 to my fellow vendors that I chatted up thru the day.
So, doing the math, this is how much I think I invested in yesterday's fiasco:
- Booth fee: $500. Not negotiable.
- 3 display cakes: new styro, fondant, dusts, colors, sugar flowers, isomalt, isomalt molds, $300-$400.
- Hours invested making display cakes: 48 or so
- 2 full sheet cakes, retail value $980. Out of pocket expense to make those including ingredients and overhead (and not including paying myself any wage), around $400-500. I didn't skimp on anything. Best foot forward and all.
- Parking: $20
- Promotional postcards, business cards & signs, $200
- I turned down 7 orders for the weekend. There is no value I can place on that.
Total out of pocket investment (without paying myself a dime): About $1800.
For my $1800, my cakes were seen by 450 people, but tasted by around 150. Those 150 had very little idea who's cake they were eating, and some of the cake other vendors brought were down right disgusting. So it's very possible those 150 think I have horrible cake.
And I had a whole sheet cake left that I literally spend an hour after the event to try and pawn off. I still ended up taking 1/2 sheet home.
To break even, I'd need to book 5-6 weddings from this, maybe more. I can't imagine that would happen. If I get any business from a bride that saw me yesterday I will be shocked. In fact, I think it may have hurt my reputation. My only hope at this point is referrals I may get from vendors I met and personally handed cake to.
No yeah. I don't think I'll be doing any more shows.