Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

tammylc

Adventures in Starting a Chocolate Business

Recommended Posts

I have only participated in a few trade fair shows in my area and did cash sales only. To simplify our tax charges I posted my prices, showing all taxes (Canadians love our taxes!), For most of my products I rounded the end price to something simple for change.

Instead of say $3.77 for a product I charged the $3.75 to keep the change simple.

I have taken my cash register with me to one show but lugging that piece of equipment and having to pay extra for an electrical outlet to plug the darn thing in makes it a challenge. Calculator with batteries (don't forget the spare batteries!) worked out fine for me the last time. No one asked for a receipt but I had a receipt book just in case.

Most times the shows I have participated have been worth it but the real benefit is getting your name out there, sampling your product and getting people to come back to the store.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much!! As usual you guys are an incredible source of information and always make things seem so easy :biggrin:

The even is for May so mother's day weekend, I am trying to put together a plan on packaging and what to bring.I have the main boxes and I am going to work around that ( color matching , and bags with my logo printed on ).

Ahhh what I have done!! :laugh::laugh: Gotta try though , gotta try!Thats what the American dream is for me :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Double check if you even need to charge tax - here in Michigan, there's no tax on food items - that makes things much easier.

Like John, I only accept credit cards via PayPal on my website. That might change if I were doing more events like Farmer's Markets etc, but I haven't done much of that, and when I have I've only accepted cash or checks.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Double check if you even need to charge tax - here in Michigan, there's no tax on food items - that makes things much easier.

Like John, I only accept credit cards via PayPal on my website. That might change if I were doing more events like Farmer's Markets etc, but I haven't done much of that, and when I have I've only accepted cash or checks.

Good luck!

Tammy

The way it was explained to me is if people can eat your product where it is sold, you have to charge sales tax. That's why it is added to your bill in restaurants. (In Michigan)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The way it was explained to me is if people can eat your product where it is sold, you have to charge sales tax. That's why it is added to your bill in restaurants. (In Michigan)

Couldn't you get around this if you put the product in a box or some other sort of packaging?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Double check if you even need to charge tax - here in Michigan, there's no tax on food items - that makes things much easier.

Like John, I only accept credit cards via PayPal on my website. That might change if I were doing more events like Farmer's Markets etc, but I haven't done much of that, and when I have I've only accepted cash or checks.

Good luck!

Thank you :-)

I will double check , but I am pretty sure that I will have to collect taxes , Colorado is like that :-P.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi. If you are interested I can tell you how I organized for my festival which is similar to a farmer's market I think. Both beforehand and during. Perhaps we can all give each othersome tips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm lucky to have 4 CPA's as investor's (or unlucky depending on how you look at it). I would suggest anyone be very careful when it comes to taxes and get your advice from an expert. Sales tax can be very tricky at times but a good CPA can tell you your options and the risks. If having to pay back taxes and penalties would put you out of business....I'd play it safe and be conservative. Just my advice but nothing will end your dream faster than trying to dodge the government.

The way it was explained to me is if people can eat your product where it is sold, you have to charge sales tax. That's why it is added to your bill in restaurants. (In Michigan)

Couldn't you get around this if you put the product in a box or some other sort of packaging?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here in Colorado food for home consumption is exempt from sale tax but the county and home rule city dont follow the same rule,for example boulder county still collect taxes ad the same for the ohter home rule cities around here ( I need to bing my business out of the boulder county , its soo expensive anyway :sad: )

The event I am going to be in is in a home rule city so I need to go to the town all and get all the permits etc etc from them , so to collect and submit the right sale taxes to the city and the county haha what a pain :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About paypal, payment options.I think I am going with it , do you guys use the shipping and taxes tools they have for the business package? And if yes how do you likeit?If not what do you use for shipping and how it works for you?

Ahhh too many questions, but take your time :-)

Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good morning.

I am hoping for some advice from you on some issues that have come up for me at this point in starting my business. I have spent the last several months mastering tempering and creating some of my own ganache recipes for a small business I am trying to start. At this point I am researching where I could rent space in a commerical kitchen. Here are some of the problems I'm experiencing:

1. On the Business Application they state you cannot use a PO Box or Private Mailbox. If I am just renting commercial space somewhere what address would I sue on the business license application? The business would not be located where I'm making the chocolates so I guess I'm confused and don't know what to do.

2. Do any of you ship across state lines and if so, do you have any links or resources for me of what I need to research. I've tried the IRS site as well as the California gov site and I truly get lost and confused when I try to research what I need to do.

3. What type of food handling certification do you recommend? I have researched several site and don't really know if they are legitmate or even necessary.

4. Here is what I believe I need in order to begin legally selling chocolates:

a. A business license

b. A food handling certificate

c. Ability to ship across state lines.

I'm sorry if I seem terribly ignorant to you all who seem to have a lot more experience. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

-Jennifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of this is handled at the State and Local level. I take it you live in California, but you may have to let us know in which city you live to get specific advice for your locale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A lot of this is handled at the State and Local level.  I take it you live in California, but you may have to let us know in which city you live to get specific advice for your locale.

Hello.

Yes I live in SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA. Thanks so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not in Cal , but I am starting the business as well.I found the kitchen and filed and formed my LLC.Aslo for the LLC , you can to not have a PO Box, so I just rent a mail place in one of the pack an dship place they have a physical address not a PO Box.Also I know that , at least here, you need to contact your health department and have them come to inspect you and the kitchen you work from ( the kitchen its already license but they need to see if you know how to use it and if you know the regulations to handle food etc etc..) if they approve you I think they give you the license , after you pay the fee ,and I also think they check for the ingredients labels and any label you put on your products, so have them ready for the inspection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A question for the rest of you gusy that already have a business running.

What do you use for shipping and what do you suggest.Also how do you come up with a standard shipping price ,just weight some of your boxes and use that standard to charge d=for shipping etc?

Thank you as usual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A question for the rest of you gusy that already have a business running.

What do you use for shipping and what do you suggest.Also how do you come up with a standard shipping price ,just weight some of your boxes and use that  standard to charge d=for shipping etc?

Thank you as usual.

http://www.dryiceinfo.com/ControlTempPack.htm

I have shipped using them and know people who do, with no problems thus far.

For shipping price, you can do a generic 'quick qoute' on the fedex website. You put in the zip codes and the weight of the box and then it lists all the different options and costs. Plus if you create an account with fedex you get a discount on shipping.

Hopes that helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A question for the rest of you gusy that already have a business running.

What do you use for shipping and what do you suggest.Also how do you come up with a standard shipping price ,just weight some of your boxes and use that  standard to charge d=for shipping etc?

Thank you as usual.

I have used Thermosafe boxes . This series of boxes are fairly cheap, $3-4 a box. They also sell cold paks to go with them. Cost will be about $5 for packaging. You have to remember that shipping for 1/2 the year can get to be extremely exorbitant. During the warm months you will have to ship overnight, it will cost more to ship than the cost of the chocolates. From Michigan to Texas, a 3# package costs ~$50 overnight. Be careful about planning a business around mail order. You have to ship an awful lot of product to get good rates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jennifer,

You may also want to look into insurance, it is not that expensive and well worth it. They will require you to have the kitchen certified before they will issue it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you guys for the great info on shipping :-)

I second the insurance , you have to get one ( they have some package for this line of work for around 500.00 a year )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Vanessa - I'm still looking for a good solution for calculating shipping! It was easy when I was handling orders on a case by case basis, because then I'd go to the FedEx website, find out what the shipping would be, then just add that to the amount for the chocolates and invoice the customer. Plus a handling fee for packaging materials and time spent packing and shipping (which is more than you'd expect).

But if you're doing web sales, people are more likely to buy if they can complete the transaction all at once, and for that, you can't do such customized shipping. So what i did was to download FedEx rate tables, figure out (roughly) which states are in which zones (I say roughly because the zones are based on zip codes, and parts of a state may be in different zones). Then I figured out what weight different dollar amounts equate to - so if people buy one box, it's likely to weigh this much, two is this much, etc. Don't forget to take into account the cost for the shipping box and fill - even just a single box of chocolates ends up weighing over a pound once all that's included. Then i put all that together to create different shipping amounts for different weights for different zones, and entered that into the PayPal Shipping Calculator. I know if I had a good shopping cart instead of just PayPal "buy now" buttons it would probably do all this for me, but I'm not ready to spend the money on that quite yet.

The system isn't perfect - FedEx charges a surcharge of over $2 for rural delivery, and my system doesn't pick up those addresses. And it doesn't differentiate between residential and business deliveries. Home deliveries have a $1.85 surcharge - since the majority of my delivers go to homes, I just include that in my base pricing, and the two things usually balance themselves out. And I don't know what I'm going to do come my Mother's Day sale, when some orders will need insulated packaging and ice packs, and others won't!

That was probably way more information than you wanted! If anyone has a better solution, I'd love to hear about it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely not! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your method I really really appreaciate it , expecially know that you have a little boy a full time job , just like me :-)

I am going to use the paypal as well , I am not ready for the price of a full shopping cart yet :-P

Thank you so much again :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are going to rent a commercial kitchen they usually require insurance. Mine came out to about $500 a year as well.

Luis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By eglies
      I have just started my own chocolaterie. We opened two weeks ago, we are only online business. It’s 15 days before Easter here. I have produced Bonbons but don’t know if it’s enough. I have budgeted for this but nobody can tell me how it will go right? I’m scared we won’t cope with last minute orders that week...
    • By tinyragebaking
      Hi everyone! 

      I  lurk more often than post but I love this website! I've been dabbling in making bon bons and I wanted to ask if anybody here knew of any couverture dairy-free chocolates? One of my good friends is getting married and I would love to surprise her with some bon bons, but she has a severe allergy to caesin (so much so that if there's cross contamination with other food, she risks going to anaphylactic shock).  I'd appreciate any help or suggestions

      Here's a photo of some of the stuff I've been having fun with.  I did from left to right an olive oil and thyme center, raspberry and green tea, and blueberry ginger! 

       

    • By curls
      So, what is everyone doing for the pastry & baking side of Easter?
       
      I'm working on the following chocolates: fruit & nut eggs, hollow bunnies, Jelly Belly filled bunnies, coconut bunnies, dragons (filled with rice krispies & chocolate), peanut butter hedgehogs, and malted milk hens. Hoping to finish my dark chocolate production today and get started on all my milk chocolate items.
       
      My father-in-law will be baking the traditional family Easter bread a day or two before Easter. Its an enriched bread and he makes two versions -- one with raisins and one without (I prefer the one with raisins).
       

       
      And I was lucky enough to spot this couple in the sale moulds stock at last year's eGullet chocolate & confections workshop in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. These love bunnies help so very much with Easter chocolate production!  ;-)

    • By eglies
      hi everyone, 
       
      Another problem occurred with our caramel recipe for our bonbons. I had a perfect texture using my recipe for 32 cavities and when I multiplied that by 2 the caramel was a completely different texture and very runny.
       
      Any suggestions why this happened?
      Thank you
    • By Jim D.
      I have an opportunity to obtain (without a trip to NYC, where everything appears available) some hard-to-find liqueurs or brandies for my chocolate work, primarily in ganaches. I already have a poire Williams eau-de-vie and a framboise one as well. I have German kirschwasser but am getting low on that, so am thinking of getting more while I have this chance. For new ones, I'm thinking primarily of apricot. I have heard there are some wonderful European apricot brandies/liqueurs, but don't know which really taste of apricots and are worth purchasing. And the other flavor I would like is a strawberry brandy or liqueur. Online I've found Dolceterra Marcati wild strawberries liqueur and Drillaut strawberry liqueur but know nothing about either. I lean more toward a liqueur/cordial than eau-de-vie because sometimes I think the latter does not always taste specifically of the fruit.
       
      Any guidance would be much appreciated, including ideas for fruits I haven't mentioned.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×