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Food and Drink Essential to sustain life; near the top of the hierarchy of needs

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Old 12-17-2013, 11:59 AM   #106
BigV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolatl View Post
Thanks all for the good wishes. I had a MUCH better market day today. I took less product and was able to sell it all. Not huge profits, but enough to buy supplies needed for the next two weeks. Hooray!

Also a milestone: today was the longest I've ever been away from Beans! 7.5 hours. Hard on Mama's heart, but she and Kitsune did just fine .
WTG!


PS, this will probably remain a melancholy ache, like a mostly-healed bruise for a couple decades.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:27 PM   #107
Chocolatl
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Only seven weeks left in the market season. Never did pull a paycheck, but I've continued to make enough money to pay for ingredients and keep coming back week to week. Not bad for my first year out.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:42 PM   #108
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Yes, it's all good. The people have to find you, so what you have is an investment in next year, and so it will go as long as you like it.
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:25 PM   #109
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Cool, making a profit or not it's getting you out of the house, socializing with people, on a regular basis. And that's increasingly difficult to do without costing money these days.
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:43 AM   #110
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Getting out of the house and having an identity other than "Mom" has been priceless for me. I've loved it, and hadn't realized how badly I needed it.

Over the past few months, I've shifted more towards singles and fewer three packs. For some reason, verbally telling people "you can mix and match three singles for $5!" has made a difference. They feel like they're getting a deal, even though the price difference is only a quarter.

The past two Sundays, there have been big festivals at the park across from the market and so we've had a lot of foot traffic. I sold out both weeks!

This past Sunday, a trio of cops on bicycles rode through and suddenly one of them stopped, looked at my booth, and said "YOU'RE the whoopie pie lady!" A part of my brain went "uh oh." Turns out, a fellow vendor who was at the festival was promoting me to passers by! So the cops had said they wanted to come check it out. They had some samples and loved them, and one officer bought one.

At 3 pm, as I was packing up, the cops came back for more. Sorry -- sold out! They were very disappointed, but also very happy for me. One of them pulled a serious face and said "Now you've got a problem. You've got angry cops on your hands." It was pretty funny, and very encouraging to know the word is starting to get out.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:17 AM   #111
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Part of what my display is looking like these days.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:19 AM   #112
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That's brand marketing. It's awesome.

When we were on tour, I was the 'Bitchin' veggie bagel' guy. I had regulars, and all I had done was write that on the front of the cardboard soda flat I carried them around in, and hollered it out as I walked around. Well, the bagels were really good, too, which is key.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:35 AM   #113
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I've heard that the best way to be profitable with food is to have a small menu of top notch items or meals. If you only did one confection, your ingredient cost would be more manageable, and the product would be more consistent. You could print up cute little menus that offer your other stuff that could be ordered for parties, etc. Offer delivery to the local area, custom orders and volume discounts. Tony could make you a Web site.

Now that you can go out alone, is it possible to go without the stall? Would the fair organizers allow and charge you less.... Or nothing.... If you were to wander the ground with a flat that could be carried easily? You could make a T-shirt that says Whoopie Pies on the back, and try selling only those one week. If that's what people are talking to each other about, and referring to you as, you should roll with it and see where it takes you.

Make the flat fancy, with a strap that goes from the two front corners, over your head, so you can free your hand or hands to transact the exchange.

Do you have one of those credit card swipers for your phone? A coin dispensing belt thingy? Could you write a song, and walk around singing it loudly? You have a fantastic voice, and a catchy jingle would make you memorable. You get over the stage fright quickly.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:51 AM   #114
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chock full o' fun ideas, that jimbo.

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Old 03-11-2014, 07:49 PM   #115
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Great ideas! If you've become known as 'The Whoopie Pie Lady', roll with it, is my thought. Focus on those and on what sells (as you say, singles 3/$5). Whether you want to go mobile or let people come to you, you may want to exploit that concept. If you decide to maintain a stall, can you put up flyers directing people to your stall? Or advertise in the local papers a couple days ahead?

Keep your individual identity going no matter what ... you are, and will always be, 'Mom', and that is priceless ... however, Beans will gain so much from learning, as she grows, how multifaceted her mother is. Not to mention the benefits for you. Keep on, Choco! You're inspiring.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:52 AM   #116
Chocolatl
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Thanks for the ideas, guys!

Whoopie pies are the only thing I make, but I have several different flavors. There are other vendors at the market who do tarts, cookies, cakes, etc. so it's nice that I have something unique and specialized. When I first started, I was taking seven types each week, but I've narrowed it down to five which has helped to lower costs. I freeze them after I make them, and then only take what I think I can sell for the week. As the year has gone on, I've gotten better at estimating how many samples to take, and how to factor in things like the weather and events going on that might affect how sales are for the day. Just this week I switched to having to hand out the samples -- I used to have them out for people to just grab, and entire families were coming up and having each member try a sample of each. Seriously, folks? (Some people are wonderfully sensitive about the small business thing, and others are completely oblivious.) So I've been making tweaks here and there that are helping. I also made some fake whoopie pies out of modeling dough, and put them on display, since a lot of people down here have no idea what a whoopie pie is. (My favorite compliments are from the Pennsylvanians who tell me mine are better than what they get back home, or better than their grandma's. Yeah!)

The problems with going mobile are several. One is that the organizers would charge me the same, because a vendor is a vendor whether you take up your alloted 10 feet or not. Also, because we are a weekly market, there are regulars who come every week, and being in the same spot is beneficial because they know where to find me. (There was one week that I got moved to an entirely different spot because the Oscar Meyer weinermobile was in town, and business was awful that day!) There is one guy who beelines toward me every week, plops down his $5, points at a box and then steps a few feet away to inhale all three in one go. lol. So I like being in the same spot for that. The biggest perk of the stall? SHADE. Standing out in the Florida sun for 5 hours would be lethal -- not only for me but for the whoopie pies, even in winter. For next season, I am planning to get a nice teal shelter, so my tent will stand out and be visible from a distance. I like the idea of a flat, and might try it in the future if I do any one time events.

I have a card swiper, I set my prices so that I only have to deal in quarters, and I do sing out that I have samples.

It's been an awesome learning experience, and I'm really looking forward to starting strong next fall.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:25 PM   #117
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Damn, Apple will probably be courting you for CEO..
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:45 PM   #118
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Chocolatl

I have heard numerous stories on the radio lately about the dramatic change in tip revenue due to subtle changes in the software used to present the bill to the customer. Can you change the checkout screen on your phone/swiper/doodad to prompt for a tip? Easy, free money....

Just sayin.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:51 PM   #119
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Most likely, "Keep the quarter".
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:03 PM   #120
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I've actually been surprised by how many people actually want their quarter!

I actually don't have them sign because it's such a small amount of money. When you're only paying $1.75 or $5, you're not really inclined to tip. I'm also not *doing* anything -- I'm not doing any work on the spot, so tips are really very rare for me.
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