Hello! I am new on the list and enjoying reading all the posts on the forum. I'm trying to put together a plan to start selling my chocolate in a small way (since my pottery business is full time) at farmers markets. Does anyone do this and if so, how do you keep your chocolate from becoming a puddle? I'm assuming coolers but... if the customer can't see the chocolate how do you convince them to buy it? Good photos? Thank you in advance! Tracy
updated by @tracy-bradford: 04/11/16 08:48:08AM
Selling at farmer's markets... in the heat of summer?
I sell my pottery at craft shows and there are many food vendors there. The chocolate booths mostly seem to dice up their product and give very small samples (handed to the customer with tongs). Otherwise, they'd be wiped out. I had a friend who made chocolate sauce and he was so disgusted at his first show at the amount of product he felt he had to give away just to make sales.I chuckled when you mention the Costco phenomenon of free samples. I was at a wholesale trade show in Chicago where food items, as well as household goods were being shown to shop owners. There were two aisles of food (with samples of course), then you round a corner and the gift items started. Well, the first booth people came to from the food aisle was a booth of very life-like stuffed animals, mostly cats. One of the kitties was in a crouched position so the sales person put a bowl of kitty food in front of it to heighten the life like effect. Well, I watched a woman come around the corner, not bother to even look at the items in the booth and simple grab a big handful of kitty food and stuff it into her mouth as she kept walking. Once the food was in there she did hesitate and look back at the booth. To her credit she kept her dignity and swallowed it. Bleck! Sorry to go off topic..... won't do it again I promise!
Hi Tracy, you might consider contacting Sarah Hart, on this site. She owns Alma chocolates in Portland OR and has been selling at her local farmers market for years. She actually started just selling at the farmers market, now she has a wonderful shop but she still sells at the market. She would be a good person to contact.I am thinking of selling my chocolate at a farmers market near where I live too so this discussion is timely, thanks!-Mark Sciscenti
Just found this discussion. I do farmers markets throughout the summer. It is a great way to keep money coming in during the slowest time of the year. I have a shop, so most of the people who come visit us at the market know what I do in my shop and if they don't know us I can tell them about it. At the farmers market, We do things that we do not do in our shop. We do "festival type" things like frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, chocolate dipped strawberry kabobs, our own version of frozen hot chocolate, etc. Things you can walk around with and eat... Our customers love it and they know to go to the market to get these things...made fresh right in front of them. On cooler days we do an amazing hot chocolate, caramel apples, and we will then start bringing in products from our shop...candy bars, chocolate covered nuts, mendiants, etc. It keeps me from having to deal with melting so much. It seems to keep customers coming back to see what's new too...because we will dip fresh fruits that are in season. A bag of fresh blackberries in white chocolate, raspberries in dark, or dark chocolate figs...etc. I love the market. I love the comments on sampling too! I like the idea of sampling ganache...a lot of people don't quite understand what all goes into making truffles. I never sample them...and I have really quit sampling just about anything. I had a lady last week at the market get mad at me for not sampling to her...but she was the only one who asked for a sample. Everyone else seemed excited to BUY something. I was so happy to hear about the lady that ate cat food mentioned earlier! That is awesome! You don't get samples of food you are ordering at a restaurant...you cant just sample any product at Walmart...but I agree with Elena...it is a Costco or Sams syndrome that people have. It drives me crazy! What we do is so specialized...I just can't give it away anymore. I have been burned by doing that in the past. People stop coming to buy things and come for samples...even other vendors started coming at the end of the day to see what I had left over after I gave out fresh berries that had been dipped in chocolate that didn't sell. It was upsetting. They buy them now because they love them! I do give the other vendors a small discount now...it is like a big family...If you do stick to selling your chocolates throughout the summer, I think Elena has some great tips!
Another thing about sampling...My husband reminded me about how Fudge shops are known for giving samples. Oh the many times I have seen people stop by for the sample and not buy while on vacation to tourist towns...Gatlinburg, TN, the Atlantic City Boardwalk...etc. I wonder how much is actually given away. There is a small Fudge shop here where we live and they display a huge sign in the window boasting "FREE TASTE". I can't help from picturing a giant block of fudge inside...like a salt lick, for the customers to go in and take a nice big taste...or lick. Shoo dee doo. I blame them along with Costco for the "freebie hunters". They have lost their appreciation for the finer things...and I think it is pretty inconsiderate to always ask a small business for free samples! Owning a business is tough...and Very expensive! Somebody has to pay for all those samples! Ha Ha! Sorry to go on about this! Sampling is a difficult subject.
Something no one has suggested so far are thermoelectric coolers. They come in a variety of sizes, and unlike ice cooling, these units actually dehumidify, instead of adding moisture to the air in the cooler.I built a 12-volt powered, LED-illuminated portable display cooled by a unit cannibalized from a cooler. A compact 12-volt car battery could easily power this unit all day, as it draws a measly 67 watts of power. It works quite well, usually giving a 15 degree differential between outside and in. Where I'm located there's no need for more cooling, but I imagine adding a second unit would do the trick in hotter places. Here's a picture.
Hey Cheebs! That is really nice! You built this? You could sell these like crazy! I have had to find the most inexpensive ways to do farmer's markets... I tell everyone that visits our booth to come to our shop...for the finer things that we create...it usually works. But maybe one day I could splurge and have this as an option. It looks very impressive. Thanks for the suggestion of thermoelestric coolers too! I actually have never seen one of these. When we decided to start doing farmer's markets...we toyed with the idea of getting a small wine cooler. But decided that it would be open and closed so much it wouldn't work. I will keep this in mind if I ever decide to change how we do things.
The cabinet was made by a professional cabinetmaker, who also had the curved glass made. I did all the electrics and lighting. It wasn't cheap either, with total cost coming in around $1000. Still very good compared to commercial units which sell around $3k-$5k.I had considered selling a similar unit, but since I'm in Guatemala it makes it very expensive to ship just about anywhere.BTW, most wine coolers actually use thermoelectric devices for cooling. If you can find a damaged unit you could use the internals to cool your display.
Good idea. My gears are turning. I will have to think about this for a while. Seems like we could really make something perfect for pretty cheap. I love to "MacGyver" new tools. My husband always says that we are in the wrong business...the people who make the equipment for chocolatiers are the ones making the money! Everything is SO expensive!
Hey Wendy and Cheebs, thanks for the tips you both gave. I'm sorry to have replied so slowly but I've been traveling. Wendy, those are some great ideas for keeping the money coming in during the summer. Frozen hot chocolate? Fabulous!Cheebs, that case is gorgeous. I suspect a custom cabinet maker here in New England would get a bit more than $1000. though. The 12 volt car battery is a good idea. I wonder if those small solar collectors would be good? I may just have to nab the one on our horse's paddock and play around with the idea!Tracy
Search for "portable thermoelectric cooler" on Google. There are a number of different brands but "Koolatron" seems to be very highly rated. You can get a good-sized one for under $200 that runs off 12VDC - plugs straight into the "convenience" outlet of a car or optional 120VAC adapter. Vinotemp makes one (available at Home Depot) that is soft-sided and is built into a luggage cart. Not quite as large as some of the Koolatron units but it would seem to be convenient for some applications.
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
With the unit pictured above, condensation from the cooling fins on the cold (inside) section, amounts to around 1/2 cup daily. Here we have an average RH of around 70%, and I've measured a very respectable 50-55% inside the display.The temperature differential is not enough (usually) to cause any significant condensation.Oh, and at Valrhona's Ecole, they were using a thermoelectric dehumidifier in the crystallization room. Apparently they do work quite well, the chefs seemed pretty taken with it.
I am new in the business and ready to start selling, but need chocolate cabinets to place in retail areas. Could I obtain specs to give to my electrical engineering son? I need 2 cabinets now! For retail locations - one a zoo, and another a large gallery/antique mall. email directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi llana! Craigslist is a website used for posting classifieds and forums... Not sure it is used much in Israel. http://telaviv.craigslist.org/ I use it to look for used equipment in other cities in America... It is great for posting things for sale, or to post things that you are looking for. People even post homes and cars for sale.
Carlos Eichenberger: Something no one has suggested so far are thermoelectric coolers. They come in a variety of sizes, and unlike ice cooling, these units actually dehumidify, instead of adding moisture to the air in the cooler.I built a 12-volt powered, LED-illuminated portable display cooled by a unit cannibalized from a cooler. A compact 12-volt car battery could easily power this unit all day, as it draws a measly 67 watts of power. It works quite well, usually giving a 15 degree differential between outside and in. Where I'm located there's no need for more cooling, but I imagine adding a second unit would do the trick in hotter places. Here's a picture.