Sunday, July 5, 2009

I need a new angle...

There are a lot of positive aspects to selling at the farmers markets that would be difficult to find elsewhere - I get to meet the customers, they get to put a face to the product, there's exposure to fairly diverse groups of people, and getting to know the other producers in the community and the valuable experience they can offer. On the other hand, there are things that are completely out of my hands that make sales unpredictable - not having a permanent spot means I am not guaranteed to be able to unload the hundred or so cupcakes chilling in the back of my van, or, if I do get a spot, it could be in an undesirable location where foot traffic and visibility are limited and, of course, there's the weather to consider. Since my product has a short shelf life, they must be sold that day. This means any return on my invested time and money hinges on some conditions that, at one time or another, will inevitably work against me. I'm waiting for the day I spend all of Friday lovingly baking, decorating and packaging only to find there are no spots open at the market - there I'll be, sitting on two coolers full of melting buttercream capped cupcakes that are likely heading to the trash. Its a wretched possibility. So, while I don't intend to turn my back on the market entirely, I realize that if I am truly going to make a go of this endeavor, I need a diversified approach to sales.

I sought feed-back from a couple in the restaurant industry. I felt like I needed a professional opinion, someone who could give me specific, technical advice about taste, texture and presentation , and I'm so glad I did! Mrs. Bistro Owner, whom I had only met briefly once before, was very generous with her time and was willing to sit down with me to field my questions about how the food business works - how do I get my products into cafes or shops, what's the etiquette when approaching a business owner, etc. as well as letting me know if my cakes were up to industry standards. I dropped off three flavours for she and Mr. Bistro Owner to sample and awaited their verdict. I was beside myself ecstatic when, in her message, she described them as "so super delicious", "top notch', and "awesome"! Wheee! She then let me know they had a few more suggestions about marketing and places to approach and that I am welcome to give her a call. I am so grateful to her and her hubby, am encouraged by their input and intend to take her up on her sweet offer. I have to say, Kingstonians have made me feel very welcome in my new town and I can't wait to get even more entrenched here by getting my business going. Somehow my good feelings about this place will translate into yummier cupcakes, I'm sure.

And what does a baker do when they feel good? invent a new cupcake, of course - something raspberry flavoured, I think, since they are just starting to ripen on the bushes....

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