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carol lang

Selling Chocolates at Shows and Farmers Markets

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Wow, I wish I could walk into the screen and browse around at all these booths! I'm trying to see everything and I just can't!

Ilana, I see what you are saying about the open concept for food safety reasons but your display looks fantastic. I wonder if there's something to the Costco mentality (in case you don't have Costco Ilana - it's a bulk buying warehouse) where people are overwhelmed being surrounded by so much that they buy so much! If there's only 1 chocolate out it does suggest quality but maybe that scares people off?

I'm thinking, when possible (it would have to be an indoor event), it might be best to do a refined QUANTITY display as Ilana has shown. I really have no idea - I'm just thinking out loud.

Ruth, I notice you have 3 raised displays. It almost looks like chocolates behind glass... or are they large boxes of chocolates? You have 1 in the middle and 1 on each end...

.

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I'll post some photo's tonight when I get home, but, a few observations that I've learned. I know I don't have a degree in "marketing" and I can't afford someone who does, so, I do the next best thing. I walk through major department stores to "see" how they display different products, then, I use their idea's in the best method I can. For instance, I've learned that people like to see "height" - instead of a 'flat' display - the different heights of display actually pulls them into my booth. I have no shame watching something that works and using it at my own location. If it works for Macy's; Godiva; etc, it should work for me.

I also have found that having to much "product" on display actually discourages sales. The customer must think "they have plenty, I'll come back later to buy some", but for the majority of buyers, never never comes. They forget where you were, can't find you, it's to far to walk back and so forth. Therefore, I keep my display's to a minimal - and use the reverse psychology. "Oh, they must be selling this stuff quickly, I better buy mine now."

I discourage samples as well. Costco has introduced the "free lunch" concept and I work to hard to add to that. Now, I will also say, it's situational; sometimes you can just tell people are professional samplers and not interested in buying. Instead, I make them an offer that is unbeatable. I tell them, "buy (product x) - go enjoy the show, eat a little, or eat it all, if you do not like it, you bring me back the (product) and I'll give you your money back" Sometimes, I'll even give them the product and say, "here, you take this, and if you like it, come back and pay for it" - I'm that confident that they'll love it. I've done it enough to know that very, very few people have returned the product, but instead, they come back and ask to buy more. For those I "give" the product to, they actually pull out their money to pay; and I insist, "no, that wasn't the deal" - but they insist (and I let them) and they pay for it and come back to tell me how much they love it.

If you can get away with it, people love to watch someone working. It's easy to start talking to them too. I work a little "show" and "routine" into my demo's. Being a guy, I flirt with the women and am deferential to the men. Everyone is a Sir or Ma'am. People love to buy something they have actually seen being made. It fascinates people to see something they are not familiar with, it's an opportunity to educate, to develop a customer base.

I also have a notebook handy, if they seem interested, I'll ask them for their name and email address. That way, I can keep in touch with them when I WANT to. "Dear friend, we met each other at ABC show/farmers market" etc, and I wanted to thank you for stopping by, I truly hope you enjoyed the [product] that you took home. I'm running a special this month because it's Halloween, all reorders are 10% off (or free shipping).

An 800 number for easy reorders, call us on OUR dime (in the States)

Don't forget that 80% of your business is going to come from 20% of your customers. BUILD that customer base.

Just my take on some of these things -

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This is a picture of our booth at the Colorado Chocolate Show 2009. Pictured are my daughter and daughter-in-law. (they work cheap:-)

Really nice display. I like the way the green and brown colors work together. I'm still trying to find a graphic artist/designer to help me with a logo/identity.

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Wow to chocolot and wow to Lebowits!! Thank you sooo much. I hace never seen this cambro half tray thing. Is there a url for me ? I appreciate it a lot. I see how lovely and organized. I will certainly start selling in boxes and not displaying all as is common here.

I willpost an older picture and then a more recent one with my "tiles".

Thank you both ever so much. Such fun. The green and brown is an eye catcher and stunning.

Cambro Manufacturing (southern California near Los Angeles) makes a large line of commercial food products, focusing on service and storage. Their web site is here. I tried going there a few minutes ago and it seems their server is down. Here is a link to a restaurant supply company that sells their stuff. Cambro sells almost exclusively through restaurant supply companies.

I display with minimal product for two reasons. 1) If the weather is warm and there is danger of melting the pieces, I only have to sacrifice a small number. 2) The product on display is very likely being breathed on (or worse), touched, or otherwise contaminated by being in the open. Keeping the real stock in a temperature "controlled" and closed container, keeps it safer and makes people feel special when you go in to fill their box with whatever they want.

You would be surprised how many people ask me if they can choose anything or if the boxes are pre-packaged. I tell them that I would never get in the way of someone and their favorite chocolates. :biggrin:

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The wine festival- an oldy but note how we display our bonbons out in the open along with all those dust particles and who knows what else!! :blink: My son is far left, his friend is in the middle.

Lior - the display looks wonderful. I've only been putting out a limited number of pieces simply because I haven't had the time to figure out what else to offer (or what would sell) and the time to make it all. I also believe that have a limited range of products can sometimes be an inducement to customers as they perceive that there is something "special" about what you have. Interestingly, as people have gotten to know me and my products, I'm developing a bit of a following and with that comes repeat business. This past week, my sales went up 50%. I don't know if that is a one time event or a trend. I'll have to see what happens the next few weeks.

I do admit that I'm jealous about having an indoor venue. That would be so much easier in many respects.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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" -

7028_1210692757856_1544869280_30570553_1260640_n.jpg

7028_1210692797857_1544869280_30570554_486165_n.jpg

Caramel Stand 2 - Waterford.jpg

Caramel Apple Stand - Waterford.jpg

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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.

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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!

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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!!!

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yes! It looks fabulous!! Nice colors!

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

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

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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:

gallery_47724_6785_1446772.jpg

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.

gallery_47724_6785_990033.jpg

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I like the changes.

Love the colors of your banner.

Your chocolates look great on the two levels.

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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 (log)

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