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Selling Chocolates at Shows and Farmers Markets

Confections Chocolate Dessert

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72 replies to this topic

#31 lebowits

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:00 PM

Steve, thank you so much for sharing. Your set up looks beautiful and professional! I appreciate the 'behind the scenes' photos. As I said before, I have never done a farmer's market as I can't imagine how I would keep the chocolates from melting! Your Camcarrier is a fabulous idea!

I really like your tile display. Do you find your display chocolates melt in the summer months? I'm in the Interior of BC, Canada and we have a dessert climate here in the summer - very hot. I was thinking if I ever did a farmer's market I would make my sample pieces out of that horrible wax based fake chocolate - and maybe even add more wax! Then I would have to pray that those sample pieces don't accidently end up in a box. :shock:

Thanks again for posting your photos - it's so helpful for those of us who have yet to venture into the market scene.


I only started at this market in September. The first few weeks were warm enough to melt some or all of the chocolates on display, so I disposed of them by the end of the day. If I can keep them out of direct sunlight and the temp is below the melting point, I'm ok. Last weekend, the temp was about 65F (18C) and the pieces out of the light did fine. My tent has side walls and I'm going to put one up this weekend and see how that works.
Steve Lebowitz
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Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#32 lebowits

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:04 PM

Both those booths look fabulous. So professional.

Give the popularity of TV chef's these days I wonder if Steve wearing a chef's jacket would bring more people over to talk and sell even more.


I've given some thought to wearing a chef's jacket, but it has been either too warm or too cold. I'm not sure if I would put off people by appearing "stuffy", or if they would be attracted to it. I've got 4 weekends left. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I do work hard to engage people with a greeting as they walk by. You would be amaze at how many people simply can walk by and not notice you right there. I suppose being across from the local coffee roaster (with hot coffee) and the fresh breads, muffins, etc. is a good or bad thing. :rolleyes:
Steve Lebowitz
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Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#33 Lior

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:34 PM

I agree that it is very nice when people can choose their chocolates. This is how I did it. It can be time consuming when there is a crowd and then there are walk aways. Perhaps both "Do you a box or do you want to make your own?" sort of thing could be good.

I agree that "less is more". I have cut down a lot. It is also a matter of culture. Many people here expect abundance. It is this mideastern trait of "lots" shows labor of love and etc. But I think less can be appreciated as well. I have had people say-only x kinds? So and so has 30 flavors... (go to them!)

I also think a display that is not flat is more interesting and needs to be taken into the planning of a table display.

I stopped wearing the chef jacket - yes too stuffy looking I also think!. A t-shirt or sweatshirt with my logo or an apron with logo is just right.

I also discovered that people tend to go directly towards the young adults for service (humph)and the "kids" are naturally friendly and joke and flirt etc-it works really well!


Thanks so much for those links on Cambro etc. We do not have a Costco here. I think the only really big chain here is Ikea and nothing is for free there! I know that everything in N. America or well lots of things, are big . A lot of stores here are boutiques or small and salespeople do not like it when customers unfold or remove things from shelves and look around-this drives me mad as I hate "help" of this type.

#34 mostlylana

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:12 PM

The first few weeks were warm enough to melt some or all of the chocolates on display...


Because it gets so hot here in the summer I thought I could make my display centers out of plasticine or something like that - they certainly don't need to be real. Then I would dip and decorate as I would for each flavour. Like I said, I would use the cheap wax based chocolate and add more paraffin wax to further increase the melting temp.

I haven't tried this yet - I'd love to hear how others successfully 'beat the heat'.

I've also heard of people using large poster photos of their chocolates to entice interest.

#35 Anna N

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:18 PM


Both those booths look fabulous. So professional.

Give the popularity of TV chef's these days I wonder if Steve wearing a chef's jacket would bring more people over to talk and sell even more.


I've given some thought to wearing a chef's jacket, but it has been either too warm or too cold. I'm not sure if I would put off people by appearing "stuffy", or if they would be attracted to it. I've got 4 weekends left. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I do work hard to engage people with a greeting as they walk by. You would be amaze at how many people simply can walk by and not notice you right there. I suppose being across from the local coffee roaster (with hot coffee) and the fresh breads, muffins, etc. is a good or bad thing. :rolleyes:


Funny but I had exactly the same thought as Kerry! I have seen you in a chef's coat and you carry it well - give it a shot and let us know how it works out.
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog
My 2004 eG Blog

#36 RobertM

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 04:07 PM

Here's some picture we just took October 3 (or 4th) - at an outdoor show we did. I'm the one "cooking" and teaching the little girl how to make caramel - while her grandmother and mother took the picture.

I've become more the "entertainment" while others actually "sell" -

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#37 carol lang

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 04:53 AM

Thanks to all your advice and ideas, my first big selling event was a success.
I was at ChocolateWorld Expo in Westchester County, NY.
I will post some pictures soon.

#38 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 05:08 AM

Thanks to all your advice and ideas, my first big selling event was a success.
I was at ChocolateWorld Expo in Westchester County, NY.
I will post some pictures soon.

Can't wait to see!

#39 carol lang

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:47 PM

A few photos from the show.
I only managed to be in one.cwe5.jpg

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#40 Kerry Beal

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:21 PM

Carol - it all looks so classy! Glad to see you made it into one picture.

#41 RobertM

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:30 PM

Carol, it looks awesome - I hope that you did well - I like how you pulled the "color theme" all together with the shirts and the tablecoverings - Well Done!!!

#42 Lior

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:42 PM

yes! It looks fabulous!! Nice colors!

#43 Marmish

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 07:39 PM

As the farmers market season is getting started here, I was wondering how everyone was doing this season?

#44 lebowits

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:07 AM

As the farmers market season is getting started here, I was wondering how everyone was doing this season?


I've had 3 Sunday markets now, with the first 2 being fabulous. The opening day was "Mothers Day" here in the US and I sold completely out. My 2nd week was also great, doing about 60% better than my average week last year. Last Sunday had rain, and even with that, we did OK. I'm curious to see how this weekend goes with a long holiday weekend (Memorial Day). I'm expecting many people to be off traveling.
Steve Lebowitz
Doer of All Things
Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#45 Marmish

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 02:59 PM


As the farmers market season is getting started here, I was wondering how everyone was doing this season?


I've had 3 Sunday markets now, with the first 2 being fabulous. The opening day was "Mothers Day" here in the US and I sold completely out. My 2nd week was also great, doing about 60% better than my average week last year. Last Sunday had rain, and even with that, we did OK. I'm curious to see how this weekend goes with a long holiday weekend (Memorial Day). I'm expecting many people to be off traveling.


That's great, Steve! I don't know many people here who are traveling, so maybe it will be the same by you and still busy.

#46 chocoera

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 02:12 PM

i'm so proud of steve :) and marmish...was just thinking about you! did you decide to sell? YOU SHOULD!!!!!!!!!!! love and kisses to the eG's :)

#47 Marmish

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 05:35 PM

i'm so proud of steve :) and marmish...was just thinking about you! did you decide to sell? YOU SHOULD!!!!!!!!!!! love and kisses to the eG's :)


I'm still looking into it. I found out that a local chocolatier is selling at the market I had hopes for next season. The good thing is that I love their chocolates. The bad thing is, I doubt the market is big enough for us both. I'm going to try to make it over there this week to check them out. I've got to recruit my farmers market research buddy soon, too. One more week of work, a quick trip to Ohio (baking with Peter Reinhart anyone?), then I'll have time.

BUT, I also went to the Kendall College open house on Saturday to check out the college. They have a baking and pastry certificate I could earn while keeping my day job. Decisions, decisions.

#48 lebowits

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 05:38 AM

I've been selling at the market since Mother's Day and now the weather is simply getting too warm. I think I'm going to get one more week and bracket the first part of the season ending on Father's Day and then come back in September when my display is less likely to melt. I've made some real changes to my setup this year and wanted to post a couple of pictures. First, you'll notice I have a banner hanging in my tent. I've also now setup a two tier display on my front table which is visually more interesting. Of course, having some brightly colored chocolates has drawn an amazing amount of interest! :biggrin:

Posted Image

Normally, I wouldn't place the display chocolates on top of the papers, but with the weather so warm, it's just so much easier to clean up at the end of the day.

Posted Image
Steve Lebowitz
Doer of All Things
Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#49 carol lang

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 08:30 AM

I like the changes.
Love the colors of your banner.
Your chocolates look great on the two levels.

#50 peter rabbit

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 04:21 PM

I will be selling my homemade chocolate confections at an outdoor Farmer's Market beginning May 1st and I am making a wood and glass display case for the chocolate that will sit on a table top. Problem: How do I keep it cool without the risk of moisture/water? I thought of putting a false bottom on the display and placing some sort of frozen ice under it. Or set up a small fan to push cool air through the display case and out small holes on the other side. Sounds awful complicated and I would appreciate any thoughts or similar challengers others have experienced with selling chocolate in an outdoor venue. Any positive feedback would be appreciated!! Thanks.

Edited by peter rabbit, 31 March 2011 - 04:24 PM.


#51 dcarch

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 09:02 PM

If you are handy, look into "peltier cooler" or "personal refrigerator".

peltier cooler is a solid state no-moving parts thermoelectric device that gives you cooling when powered by direct current.

They are not expensive, light weight and small. You can make yourself a clear plastic cover that's refrigerated.

check it out on eBay.

dcarch

#52 chromedome

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 05:02 PM

At my farmer's market I've been using flat freezer packs that work very well. They're gel filled like any other freezer pack, but they are rigid and about 10" X 15." I get them here (Atlantic Canada) at my local dollar store. I cover them with cloth napkins that complement my tablecloth, and use them for my cheesecakes and such.
Fat=flavor

#53 peter rabbit

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 08:48 PM

Thanks! I am going to check this option out and see how it works. Appreciate your response!

#54 Linda S

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 05:42 PM

How would a smaller wine cooler work? I'm concerned about heat displaying pieces out in the open but imagine I would not sell much if customers cannot see the pieces?

#55 lebowits

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 10:03 AM

How would a smaller wine cooler work? I'm concerned about heat displaying pieces out in the open but imagine I would not sell much if customers cannot see the pieces?


I simply don't have any more room to cart things around, and even a small cooler would be burden. Electricity can sometimes be a problem. I also want to make sure that people can clearly see what I'm offering. The pieces on display are tossed at the end of the market, so as long as they hold up just enough, I'm happy.
Steve Lebowitz
Doer of All Things
Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

#56 AnythingButPlainChocolate

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 07:04 AM

How is this years farmers markets working out for people? I'm just about to start a couple of different ones (1st time, so excited), any further advice from a few years worth of learning and hindsight?
Sian

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate, and that's kinda the same thing really."

#57 ChocoNM

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:10 PM

I got a lot of good info from this thread last year, and am starting my second season at our Downtown Growers Market, so I'll chime in.
1. A Cambro or similar insulated sheet pan carrier is essential. Put a freeze-pak in it and your prodcut will stay cool all day.
2. NO DIRECT SUN - kinda obvious I guess
3. I use shallow hotel pans filled with ice or freeze paks to display my wares, putting the pieces on plates or doilies.
4. Sampling sells like nothing else - get it in their mouths and you probably have a sale. We all have "seconds" - cosmetic blemishes - that you can cut up fo samples. I get 8 pieces from a 0.5 oz truffle.
5. Hawk your wares - talk to the people as they go by - "Good morning - do you like chocolate?" "One piece will give you the energy to carry a whole bag of veggies..." If you just sit/stand there, people will just walk past.
6. Have a helper. Setting up by yourself at 6:30 am is bad enough, Tearing down at 12:00 after 5 hours on your feet is killer.
7. If the weather forecast is for 97F degrees or more, its Officially Too Hot For Chocolate. If they can't even get the product back to their cars, they won't buy, and your sales won't be enough to warrant the work. And you will fry.
8. Market sales are a great way to drive sales at your retail outlets (assuming you wholesale). Every time I do a market I get a number of people say " I saw your product at ......, but had never tried it. Now I will".
9. Give the little kids a price break - you're grooming future customers, and they'll bring their parents back next week.
10. Visit with the other vendors - You can barter chocolate fo all kinds of fresh market produce.

#58 JenBunk

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:10 AM

How is this years farmers markets working out for people? I'm just about to start a couple of different ones (1st time, so excited), any further advice from a few years worth of learning and hindsight?

How was your first market? I am getting ready to do my first. Really excited!
JB Chocolatier
www.jbchocolatier.com

#59 AnythingButPlainChocolate

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:13 AM


How is this years farmers markets working out for people? I'm just about to start a couple of different ones (1st time, so excited), any further advice from a few years worth of learning and hindsight?

How was your first market? I am getting ready to do my first. Really excited!

It was good, I was however battling the warm weather so not a huge amount of sales. I was however surprised at what sold and what didn't. I couldn't produce enough confit'd fruit (dipped in chocolate) to keep up demands.
Sian

"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy chocolate, and that's kinda the same thing really."

#60 JenBunk

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:41 AM



How is this years farmers markets working out for people? I'm just about to start a couple of different ones (1st time, so excited), any further advice from a few years worth of learning and hindsight?

How was your first market? I am getting ready to do my first. Really excited!

It was good, I was however battling the warm weather so not a huge amount of sales. I was however surprised at what sold and what didn't. I couldn't produce enough confit'd fruit (dipped in chocolate) to keep up demands.

I'm glad it went well! I don't have the warm weather to battle with. This summer has been a cool one for us. Did you do one market? or are you doing them every week?
Jenny
JB Chocolatier
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