Cake Central › Cake Forums › Cake Talk › Cake Decorating Business › Outdoor sales: feedback needed
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Outdoor sales: feedback needed

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Dear decorators,

Does anyone here regularly do sales outdoors? And if so, how well does it go for you?

This being festival season, there are a number of sales and other events held outdoors. I want to do tables at them, but my partner-in-crime steadfastly refuses. She much prefers to plod along at a monthly (indoor) church sale.

Our previous experience at outdoor farmer's markets:
-- You are chasing the sun with your tent -- assuming you get a tent! Every 20-30 minutes, it's pause and move things back into the shade.
-- Bugs love sugar, and the people who work with it.
-- Goodies wrapped in saran wrap melt and/or develop condensation. It's ugly and contributes to spoilage.
-- Rain chases customers away.
-- People insist on walking their scary, smelly dogs beside us. Yuck :P

My observations:
-- You have to go where the (potential) customers are. They are certainly not lining up at our front door!
-- You get more customers outdoors than indoors. Plenty of rubberneckers come over when tents are set up in a school parking lot. People will stop to look at an outdoor display, even briefly, but WILL NOT go inside an unfamiliar building, unless they are desperate for the bathroom.
-- You won't sell anything if people don't know you exist. So if you don't sell now, but you can hand out a business card or flyer, maybe 6 months from now you might have a sale.

Note also: Our inventory and supplies need to be carried in one trip by bus and subway.

Your thoughts, kind bakers, are always appreciated.
post #2 of 10

I have done several outdoor events this summer and this is what I have found:

1. If the event is well advertised, there will be more people at the event.  The more people, the better the sales. If it is poorly advertised, it will adversely affect your sales.

2. Things with frosting do not do well in the heat, unless you have some way to refrigerate it.  I have my own canopy that has sides that can be put up or taken down as needed depending on the direction of the sun.  It helps, but frosting still melts in the heat.    

3. Rain does drive away people, depending on the event.  If it is a really good event, they'll stay even if it is raining, especially if there is a shelter for them.  Here in the mountains, it typically rains every day, so unless there is lightening, most people will hunker down and wait for it to pass. 

4. Down in Denver, many of the events do not allow dogs, but in Conifer, dogs are typically welcome to outdoor events.  I usually put out a water bowl for them.  The dogs are drawn to the water, which brings the owners to my booth. 

5.  Bugs are a part of summer. 

6.  The biggest thing that seems to affect my sales, besides how well it is advertised, is how I interact with the crowd.  People will walk by and not notice your booth if you just set there waiting for them to come.  I will call out to them, ask how they are, are they enjoying the event, and try to engage them in conversation. 

7.  Packaging is important, and I prefer the 5" plastic clam-shell containers.  They stack well and look nice.

8.  People like samples.  I don't leave them out for everyone to just sample, but I will offer a sample if someone looks like they want something but aren't sure what they want. 

 

Some events, I have done very well, and other not so much.  However, now that I have a few under my belt, I will be able to better choose which events are going to be more profitable for me.

Long answer, but I hope it helps

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
Reply
"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
Reply
post #3 of 10
It really depends on what you're selling. If you specialize in custom cakes, festivals and farmer's markets that cater to the general public probably won't be the best use of your time. On the other hand, an event that happens to be aimed at your target market will result in a much higher ROI.
post #4 of 10

I sell at a farmer's market, I am a bit confused as to what sort of events you have sold at before, based on your descriptions.

Any market I have ever been a part of requires all food to be pre-packaged, no bugs getting near it! They also require tents.

I use a wire shelving unit, lined with packs of dry ice to keep things cool. I make sure my stnad looks cute, clean and simple. No clutter, cute boxes with sticker labels, cutesy sign, etc. I am selling cupcakes though, so the whole 'cute' thing goes along with that.

 

Honestly though, there is no way in the world I would be able to do an event and take all my equipment on public transit. What are you wanting to sell, if it is truffles or something else very small, maybe.

At our markets you have to bring everything, tent, weights, storage, table, decorations, signage and of course whatever you are selling.
 

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes View Post

I am a bit confused as to what sort of events you have sold at before, based on your descriptions.

Once a month, we do a flea market at a church, indoors.
Occasionally (once or twice a year) we do an art show, where cake decorating counts as art (yay), indoors.
In the past, we have done a farmer's market, walkable from our house, outdoors. We have rented tables at craft shows and other flea markets, if they are one-day shows, almost all indoors. (Longer shows are too expensive for us and we have nowhere to store food overnight.)

The kind of events I have had my eye on:
-- more farmer's markets in different parts of the city, outdoors. (The one we used to do does not exist anymore)
-- street fairs with a mix of food stalls and crafts/merchandise, outdoors

We sell cookies, cakes, cupcakes, loaves, candy, etc. depending on the tastes of the clientele and any particular themes promoted. Everything has to be shelf stable: no fridge available, no ice, no dry ice permit.

Quote:

Honestly though, there is no way in the world I would be able to do an event and take all my equipment on public transit. What are you wanting to sell, if it is truffles or something else very small, maybe.



Thanks to Mom's amazing ability to pack, we can carry a maximum of 4 large cloth bags between us with food, signage, trays, tablecloth, etc. If we can set up the night before, we can bring additional goodies -- as long as we can still carry the leftovers home. We rely on the venue to supply a table, two chairs, and if outdoors a tent or canopy. I said a quick no to one place whose rental was simply for an empty spot on the floor, and we had to come up with the furniture!

So is it bad to keep looking at these outdoor venues? I am getting fed up of the flea market patrons, who are becoming less respectful of what we do. But the people I would like to target, we can't afford the locations where they would shop.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwarren View Post

But the people I would like to target, we can't afford the locations where they would shop.

Maybe you should increase your prices.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


Maybe you should increase your prices.

 

Well who's going to pay $5 for a cupcake?! We have a hard enough time selling them at $1.50! And at the flea market, they expect them at 50 cents! (NO we don't sell them that low!!)
post #8 of 10

Must say I got to 'people insist on walking their scary smelly dogs beside us - yuck!' and I didn't bother reading the rest. The whole idea of these markets are to encourage everyone to attend - such a rude thing to say - not sure where you live but where I come from most people (and therefore most of your customers) will own a 'scary smelly' dog. We are far more likely to attend a market that is pet friendly and it one of the things we consider before we go out for the day. a toddler is far more likely to do any damage to your products than someones dog. A nice smile and a greeting to go with it will do wonders for drawing potential clients in.

I may not make perfect cakes but I gaurantee they all contain a super special ingredient .... lots and lots of love .
Reply
I may not make perfect cakes but I gaurantee they all contain a super special ingredient .... lots and lots of love .
Reply
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwarren View Post

 

Well who's going to pay $5 for a cupcake?! We have a hard enough time selling them at $1.50! And at the flea market, they expect them at 50 cents! (NO we don't sell them that low!!)


The ones I sell at markets start at $3.75 for a basic one, up to $5, people buy them. People go to a flea market for the sole purpose of buying things cheaply, so I can understand why you are having a hard time there.

'bubs' is correct about the dogs, I actually take 'pupcakes', dog safe mini cupcakes, to the outdoor markets, they are a huge hit, reaching out to customers and their interests goes a long way.

I would stay away from any events that encourage bargain hunting, such as flea markets. Something like an art show you mentioned would be better, and raise your prices, even just to a toonie to start.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwarren View Post

Well who's going to pay $5 for a cupcake?! We have a hard enough time selling them at $1.50! And at the flea market, they expect them at 50 cents! (NO we don't sell them that low!!)

If only there were price points between $1.50 and $5... icon_wink.gif

I've never seen a cupcake at a farmer's market selling for less than $3. Usually they are closer to $4. If the customers at a farmer's market won't buy a specific product at a price that compensates you for your costs and time, you either need a different sales channel, a different product, or both.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cake Decorating Business
Cake Central › Cake Forums › Cake Talk › Cake Decorating Business › Outdoor sales: feedback needed