(For some reason WordPress didn’t publish this when I wrote it last October)
Summer and the Farmer’s Market is over so Celiacs’ Delights is going on a hiatus while I figure out what the next steps for this business will be. One fun thing is that my wife and I are headed to the GF Expo in Portland which happens the first weekend of November. I’m hoping to see some good workshops, sample lots of interesting products, and check out some GF bakery food-trucks. A GF baked foods and pastries truck is one of the possible futures that I’m working towards so I’d love to see how some other people have done this.
These things I learned;
It’s okay to sell out…The booth turned a profit every week, which was very gratifying. It was difficult get data on what was popular and what wasn’t as we sold out of products every week. So the next week we’d make more products, more variety and more in quantity. And we’d sell out. So we’d make even more, and sell out again. Sometimes people would be trying to buy food from us before the market had opened and before we’d even set up our booth. The one time that I didn’t sell out on French Bread, which was a weekly staple, was the weekend after we had skipped a week because we had to go visit our prize ribbons at the State Fair. I was actually very pleased to not sell out for a change as it gave me a differing data-point to reference and showed me the importance of momentum.
Our business is good enough…The first few weeks that we worked at the Market the Anchorage Midtown Rotary was kind enough to give us three feet of table space to test sell our foods for the small price of 50% of our gross sales. We still turned a profit. We worked out of their booth for two weeks before approaching the Market about getting our own little 5′ wide booth, and our profit margins jumped considerably. We outgrew the small booth though and I expanded the operation to a full-sized 10’x10′ booth with a big table, that would start the day crowded and full and be empty at the end. When I told the Rotary, “Thanks for letting us try this experiment, but we’ll be getting our own space from here on out.” The Rotarian looked at me and said very seriously, “We’re going to lose a lot of money.” After that I donated the first $20 of profits each week to the Rotary booth as a thank you.
Free samples sell products…I know it seems obvious, but it was fun to put it in practice and see items sell better when customers were able to sample them. Free samples also served as a tasty introduction to our treats and one of the most oft heard phrases of the summer was, “That’s gluten-free?!?!” (incredulously) The GF French bread sold faster when I would chop up a mini-baguette. It was also truly enjoyable to see the expressions on people’s faces when they would sample the jams, jellies, breads, or cookies that we had that week. So much delight! One woman reluctantly bought a triple-berry hand-pie, then came back an hour later in a greatly agitated state demanding more pies because the one she had purchased was so good! Sadly, for her, we had already sold out.
Square beats Paypal Here…Our first few weeks we didn’t take credit cards, then I got my Paypal Here card reader working and customers were able to make CC purchases of GF foods from “Mayhem in Paper”…which confused a few of them… Mayhem in Paper is my online paper-model business and it’s connected to my Paypal account. I created a Square account for Celiacs’ Delights