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understandingcocoa

Opening a shop - dos & don'ts

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Another question - what does everyone do in terms of truffle storage?

 

My counter won't be refrigerated, I'm wondering whether to store the truffles in a wine fridge or some such when the shops closed, or at least boxed away to keep fresh as the counter won't have a back. 

 

P.s. the shop will be cool, it's the North after all 

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10 minutes ago, understandingcocoa said:

Another question - what does everyone do in terms of truffle storage?

 

My counter won't be refrigerated, I'm wondering whether to store the truffles in a wine fridge or some such when the shops closed, or at least boxed away to keep fresh as the counter won't have a back. 

 

P.s. the shop will be cool, it's the North after all 

You've just had a heat wave there haven't you? But by fall I'm sure that will be gone!

 

I'd recommend the wine fridge at ∼13-17º C - you want them about 10º C lower than room temperature. 

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1 minute ago, Kerry Beal said:

You've just had a heat wave there haven't you? But by fall I'm sure that will be gone!

 

I'd recommend the wine fridge at ∼13-17º C - you want them about 10º C lower than room temperature. 

 

Haha yes, it won't last for long! And as the buildings are stone round here they stay pretty cool luckily. 

 

Wine fridge it is, thank you :)

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16 minutes ago, understandingcocoa said:

And as the buildings are stone round here they stay pretty cool luckily. 

 

oooh, cool stone walls sounds nice

 

and extra dungeon-esque  😂

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2 hours ago, understandingcocoa said:

Another question - what does everyone do in terms of truffle storage?

 

My counter won't be refrigerated, I'm wondering whether to store the truffles in a wine fridge or some such when the shops closed, or at least boxed away to keep fresh as the counter won't have a back. 

 

P.s. the shop will be cool, it's the North after all 

What I do for the shops that sell my chocolates is simple but effective:  I bought an "impulse sealer" and some plastic bags into which my various sized boxes will fit, and I seal each box in one of those bags. Before sealing, I add a little notice that the customer should allow the box to come to room temperature before opening it--to avoid condensation forming on the chocolates. Then the bags can be stored under refrigeration--which will, of course, increase their shelf life. For the shops I furnish one free box of chocolates to put out for potential customers. Your shop may be cool (in both senses of the word!), but that doesn't mean the humidity won't be a factor, and it ruins the appearance of chocolates in no time at all. So you sacrifice one box of your truffles so that the rest will be as fresh as possible.

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14 hours ago, understandingcocoa said:

 

Good point, it was such a good feeling to turn down a wholesaler trying to batter me down on prices because I've started to recognise when things aren't worth my time - took a long time not to just grab every opportunity with both hands.

 

 

My parents dabbled in wholesale for a few months when they had their bakery. It didn't take them long to realize it was a losing proposition (for them, in that particular time and place) because it took them below the price point that made it worth their while. It didn't help that their biggest wholesale customer (proprietor of three coffee-shop franchises) was a complete a$$hat. Finally my father got tired of his BS, and told the customer (who was twice his size) that if he ever darkened their door again he would be ejected physically, and with plenty of top-spin.

 

Wisely, if uncharacteristically, the customer took him at his word.

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22 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

oooh, cool stone walls sounds nice

 

and extra dungeon-esque  😂

 

Funny you should say this, it's an old security shop so it currently has bolted on bars across the whole front of the shop too

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Don't fall for the sales, discounts, coupons, what-have-you methodology .... do not train your customers to wait for a sale, or the end of the day or week (if you will close for multiple days in a row I mean) before you close for bargains.  Don't let people try to tell you they want a discount because they are buying so much - your work multiplies with volume sales and that does not mean a discounted price.  well, they will try, but don't go for it.

 

And try to have something inexpensive that people on a fixed income CAN purchase.  We use our cake scraps to make cake truffles - we make hundreds at a time in less than two hours but they last quite a long time in the freezer so we have them all the time.  They are cheap to make (most of the cost is labor but we make them quickly and efficiently) and they are the least expensive thing we have in the case.    Your product offerings are very different from mine, but perhaps you can make chocolate bark or something that can be priced so that you are not out of reach of the majority of your demographic if they are pensioners. 

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This is a wonderful topic. Thanks for this discussion.  I am also hoping to open small shop and am wrestling with all the same issues.  I'm in a tiny province and I'm in the country, so the suggestions about how to generate interest are terrific. We have 8 weeks that are really really busy, then the summer people start to disappear and things slow down - a lot. But it is the locals that will keep us in business. We have worked very hard to have loyal happy customers at the market, but that is only one day a week. A shop is a completely different level of commitment.  Do any of you plan on selling online as well? It gets a little tricky with all the regulations.(actually, it's kind of overwhelming) 

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On 8/18/2018 at 1:16 AM, JeanneCake said:

Don't fall for the sales, discounts, coupons, what-have-you methodology .... do not train your customers to wait for a sale, or the end of the day or week (if you will close for multiple days in a row I mean) before you close for bargains.  Don't let people try to tell you they want a discount because they are buying so much - your work multiplies with volume sales and that does not mean a discounted price.  well, they will try, but don't go for it.

 

And try to have something inexpensive that people on a fixed income CAN purchase.  We use our cake scraps to make cake truffles - we make hundreds at a time in less than two hours but they last quite a long time in the freezer so we have them all the time.  They are cheap to make (most of the cost is labor but we make them quickly and efficiently) and they are the least expensive thing we have in the case.    Your product offerings are very different from mine, but perhaps you can make chocolate bark or something that can be priced so that you are not out of reach of the majority of your demographic if they are pensioners. 

 

Good advice thank you. I do a range of chocolate lollies that are great as "add ons" so hopefully this will cover that market!

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7 hours ago, Sue PEI said:

This is a wonderful topic. Thanks for this discussion.  I am also hoping to open small shop and am wrestling with all the same issues.  I'm in a tiny province and I'm in the country, so the suggestions about how to generate interest are terrific. We have 8 weeks that are really really busy, then the summer people start to disappear and things slow down - a lot. But it is the locals that will keep us in business. We have worked very hard to have loyal happy customers at the market, but that is only one day a week. A shop is a completely different level of commitment.  Do any of you plan on selling online as well? It gets a little tricky with all the regulations.(actually, it's kind of overwhelming) 

 

It is overwhelming isn't it! Do you have any community groups (facebook etc.)? I've been posting on there about the launch and had a huge response, people seem to really like getting behind a local business, so if you can, involve them as much as poss and let them get invested in you. Do other businesses in the same area do well?

 

Yes I do online, but to be honest it needs far more marketing. I think if you can find something low risk enough (you can afford and not tied into a lengthy contract) it's worth a chance, chocolate is at least an easy thing to get people excited about!

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On 8/22/2018 at 10:07 PM, Sue PEI said:

This is a wonderful topic. Thanks for this discussion.  I am also hoping to open small shop and am wrestling with all the same issues.  I'm in a tiny province and I'm in the country, so the suggestions about how to generate interest are terrific. We have 8 weeks that are really really busy, then the summer people start to disappear and things slow down - a lot. But it is the locals that will keep us in business. We have worked very hard to have loyal happy customers at the market, but that is only one day a week. A shop is a completely different level of commitment.  Do any of you plan on selling online as well? It gets a little tricky with all the regulations.(actually, it's kind of overwhelming) 

What part of PEI are you in?

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I worry about cookies drying out while on display. While most sales will likely be custom orders, I'd want to have some of the most popular ones ready for walk ins. What's the best way to go about that? 

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49 minutes ago, brooksms said:

I worry about cookies drying out while on display. While most sales will likely be custom orders, I'd want to have some of the most popular ones ready for walk ins. What's the best way to go about that? 

 

The 'moisture' in cookies is usually fat. They go rancid or get stale/soggy in humidity. Generally, you want to keep cookies away from moisture to keep their crispness. Keep the humidity low.

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3 hours ago, brooksms said:

I worry about cookies drying out while on display. While most sales will likely be custom orders, I'd want to have some of the most popular ones ready for walk ins. What's the best way to go about that? 

 

Put them in cookie jars or on plates under cake domes, and keep the ones you want to stay dry and crispy separate from the ones you want to stay moist and chewy. 

 

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17 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

The 'moisture' in cookies is usually fat. They go rancid or get stale/soggy in humidity. Generally, you want to keep cookies away from moisture to keep their crispness. Keep the humidity low.

 

14 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

Put them in cookie jars or on plates under cake domes, and keep the ones you want to stay dry and crispy separate from the ones you want to stay moist and chewy. 

 

 

Thank you! Any advice on mixers/ovens while we're at it? If you recall, the oven at the commercial kitchen I rented was pretty gross. I'm going shopping for a used one this weekend and not sure what to look for. Electric over gas? Particular features or things to avoid? As far as the mixer goes, I eventually want to figure out how to scale my recipe because 300+ cookies took forever with small mixers. I've heard there can be all kinds of issues with adjusting the recipe though! Stick with small mixers and take the time or buy a larger one and experiment? 

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1 hour ago, brooksms said:

 

Thank you! Any advice on mixers/ovens while we're at it? If you recall, the oven at the commercial kitchen I rented was pretty gross. I'm going shopping for a used one this weekend and not sure what to look for. Electric over gas? Particular features or things to avoid? As far as the mixer goes, I eventually want to figure out how to scale my recipe because 300+ cookies took forever with small mixers. I've heard there can be all kinds of issues with adjusting the recipe though! Stick with small mixers and take the time or buy a larger one and experiment? 

 

You're shopping for a used oven to put where?  In the commissary?  In your house?  Do you have commercial space of your own in the works?  Nothing wrong with dreaming, I do it all the time.  'Gross'-ness aside, did the oven work?  Cleanliness shouldn't really affect performance, except sometimes you'll get caked-on grunge flaking off the racks and being blown into your food.

 

Things to consider --

 

Is there already an available gas connection or appropriate power outlet?  Our electric convection oven has a giant 3-phase plug.  If you don't already have gas, the electrical upgrade might be cheaper than running a gas line.

 

What is the hood situation or hood requirements?  Here, electric ovens under 6000 (uh, kw?) don't need a hood fan.  Larger, more powerful, or gas ovens may need to be under a type 2 hood.  Type 2 extracts air but isn't built to withstand or put out a fire.  Open flame gas cooking like a commercial gas range needs a type 1 hood and fire suppression system aka Ansul.  Hoods and fire suppression are another several thousand $$ each.

 

As for the mixer, Hobarts are generally very reliable and there are a lot of them so you'll have better odds for parts and repair.  A used 20 qt table-top Hobart is on my wish list, with a budget of around $2000-2500.  Most of the 20 qt seem to have a regular 3-prong plug, but the larger ones will need special outlets for their power needs.  There's also the issue of weight and batch size.  A 60 qt machine to mix 300 cookies all at once means over 100 lb of dough to scrape down and dig out of the bowl.  Sometimes it's easier to do two medium batches instead of one huge.  And of course the bigger machines are a bigger investment.

 

 

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54 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

 

You're shopping for a used oven to put where?  In the commissary?  In your house?  Do you have commercial space of your own in the works?  Nothing wrong with dreaming, I do it all the time.  'Gross'-ness aside, did the oven work?  Cleanliness shouldn't really affect performance, except sometimes you'll get caked-on grunge flaking off the racks and being blown into your food.

 

Things to consider --

 

Is there already an available gas connection or appropriate power outlet?  Our electric convection oven has a giant 3-phase plug.  If you don't already have gas, the electrical upgrade might be cheaper than running a gas line.

 

What is the hood situation or hood requirements?  Here, electric ovens under 6000 (uh, kw?) don't need a hood fan.  Larger, more powerful, or gas ovens may need to be under a type 2 hood.  Type 2 extracts air but isn't built to withstand or put out a fire.  Open flame gas cooking like a commercial gas range needs a type 1 hood and fire suppression system aka Ansul.  Hoods and fire suppression are another several thousand $$ each.

 

As for the mixer, Hobarts are generally very reliable and there are a lot of them so you'll have better odds for parts and repair.  A used 20 qt table-top Hobart is on my wish list, with a budget of around $2000-2500.  Most of the 20 qt seem to have a regular 3-prong plug, but the larger ones will need special outlets for their power needs.  There's also the issue of weight and batch size.  A 60 qt machine to mix 300 cookies all at once means over 100 lb of dough to scrape down and dig out of the bowl.  Sometimes it's easier to do two medium batches instead of one huge.  And of course the bigger machines are a bigger investment.

 

 

 

lol it's a very long story! The oven worked fine but I'll hopefully be buying one to put in my own place soon. I believe the space has gas already as it was previously a small restaurant. I will keep the hood in mind! Good to know. I like the idea of an electric oven better. It doesn't sound like there are many drawbacks of one over the other but I haven't been able to find much info. I agree about the huge mixer too and was thinking of a medium sized one. I'm mainly concerned about the experimentation potentially required when increasing the recipe. I was told the sugar and baking soda may need to be adjusted. After months of recipe testing, the thought of starting over is a little heartbreaking! 


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29 minutes ago, brooksms said:

I'm mainly concerned about the experimentation potentially required when increasing the recipe. I was told the sugar and baking soda may need to be adjusted. After months of recipe testing, the thought of starting over is a little heartbreaking! 

 

I think if the recipe works for the size of cookie you're making, scaling the batch shouldn't be a problem.  With cakes, it is recommended to adjust the leavening for different sized pans since a batter will rise and bake differently in 6" pans vs 9" or 12".  But if you're making all 6" or all 12", the ratio should stay the same if you're making 2 or 20 cakes.  But to be safe, maybe try doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling to see what a good batch size is, instead of just leaping into a 10x batch.

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16 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

 

I think if the recipe works for the size of cookie you're making, scaling the batch shouldn't be a problem.  With cakes, it is recommended to adjust the leavening for different sized pans since a batter will rise and bake differently in 6" pans vs 9" or 12".  But if you're making all 6" or all 12", the ratio should stay the same if you're making 2 or 20 cakes.  But to be safe, maybe try doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling to see what a good batch size is, instead of just leaping into a 10x batch.

 

It will be interesting for sure! I made 300+ cookies using four little kitchenaids and it was a little hectic to say the least. 

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@brooksms this is what we have, a moffat turbofan, electric and no hood required. Good oven though not the biggest. I haven’t had to change anything significantly vs baking in an old gas Wolf oven. Moffat and Blodget are both good brands for bakers ovens. 

 

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On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 1:48 PM, brooksms said:

 

It will be interesting for sure! I made 300+ cookies using four little kitchenaids and it was a little hectic to say the least. 


This made me chuckle. Not because I don't agree, quite the opposite in fact. It just made me think how things have changed with the things that make life a little easier for us. My mom used to bake about 10 dozen each of about 10 - 12 different types of cookies every year to give as gifts at Christmas. She did it all by hand until I bought a Kitchenaid mixer for her thinking to be the good son and make the task easier (and, less altruistically, in the hopes that it would encourage her to want to keep doing it as she got older). One year I took some extra time off around Christmas and was visiting her while cookie making was still going on. I noticed that she was doing everything by hand and asked her if something had gone wrong with the mixer. She gave me a kinda sheepish look and said it was just easier to do it by hand than lug the heavy mixer out of storage and fiddle around with it. 

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