Last spring, I decided I wanted to sell Easter candy at the local farmers’ market. I’d been helping my grandmother make her classic peanut butter eggs when the idea occurred to me. I’d never actually sold anything at a farmers’ market, but I figured it couldn’t be that difficult.
How it Went Down
I asked my friend Daisy to join me, and soon we were brainstorming ideas for what candies we would make, how we’d price them, where we’d get the supplies. We were so excited. We even messaged the farmers’ market’s Facebook page and asked how to get a table, admitting we were clueless. Once we figured out that we could afford a table without too much risk (it was $20 and we split the cost), the fun began.
We did a bit of advertising at school, making flyers and handing them out to teachers or hanging them up. Daisy made a beautiful sign with the prices of each candy. I went out and bought all the ingredients and packaging supplies we would need, keeping track of all the costs, and we broke down our list.
The market was on Wednesday, and we had Tuesday off from school for the holiday, but both of us were working, me in the morning, her in the afternoon. Each of us made an item on the list while we were home, and then we got together in the evening to do the rest. Which was a lot.
- Peanut butter Eggs
- Buttercream Eggs
- Whoopie Pies
- Potato Candy (contains no actual potatoes)
- Jelly Bean Bark
- Funfetti Fudge
- Peanut Butter Fudge
- Pretzel Eggs
Needless to say, we were up pretty late, and the kitchen was quite a mess. But we did it. We made everything on our list and packaged it carefully. For most of the candy, this just meant separating servings into plastic baggies or wrapping it in cling wrap, but for the peanut butter and buttercream eggs, we bought wide, shallow cupcake liners, which we then sealed with plastic wrap.
The market opened at 6, and since we were new and afraid to miss out on getting a good table, we planned to be there right on time. Ah, how ambitious we were. We overslept and didn’t even wake up till 6. But, recovering, we packed up quickly and set out with a hopeful nervousness.
Once there, we were still clueless about how to get a table, but a kind vendor directed us to the office, where we found out that all we had to do was set up somewhere and a worker would be around to collect the fee later. Easy enough.
Tables in the covered area were far more expensive, but almost everything else seemed to be flea-market style vendors. We worried that no one shopping for food in the covered area would wander out to find us, and that no one in the flea market area would be interested in buying food. We snatched a table as close as we could to the covered area and hoped for the best.
We lay out the merchandise, feeling proud of our colorful and attractive array of sweets, and then sat down in lawn chairs to wait.
An hour or so later, we were both feeling incredibly nervous and more than a little silly, convinced that we’d be losing all the money we’d spent. People were looking, that was for sure. They stopped and read our pastel-hued sign and look over the table. But no one was buying.
As the morning wore on though, and the sky grew brighter, more people stopped to look, and finally we got our first sale.
Things went up from there, and while business wasn’t by any means booming, we were no longer panicking. At the very least, we’d earn back what we spent.
By about 2 in the afternoon, we were exhausted, and some people around us were beginning to pack up. That’s when we had the idea to bring our remaining candy to the high school (only a few minutes away) because the track team would be practicing.
Best decision of the day.
Between hungry teenagers, coaches buying for their families, and a few teachers who happened to be at the school, we sold out quickly. Daisy had to stay at school for track practice, but I headed home with empty bags and a full oatmeal canister off cash. Unable to wait, I counted up the profits in my car. Factoring in the cost of the ingredients, supplies, and table, we had still made over $180 each. Meaning that the total profit of our hopeful one-day endeavor was $360. Which, for a newbie candy sale thrown together by a couple of ambitious teenagers in a couple of days, was pretty good. Plus, we had fun doing it, ate a lot of candy, spent the day together, and made friends happy.
While this experience ended fantastically, we both realize that we sort of lucked out. We would have done okay if we hadn’t sold to the track team, but that’s where the biggest profit came from. However, this was our first time, and with a different location or tweaked merchandize, we may well have done much better. I wouldn’t write off doing this again.
- Do it right before a holiday. That gives people a reason to buy. Someone who would never buy peanut butter eggs for herself may well buy three when she knows her grandchildren are coming over for Easter Sunday.
- Ask your grandparents what they liked when they were kids. Knowing we’d see a lot of older people at the market, we were sure to include some old fashioned candy on our list. The potato candy (rolls of confectioner’s sugar dough with peanut butter inside), nearly brought one old man to tears of nostalgia (I am not exaggerating), and had many others returning to the stand after debating the purchase of a childhood favorite.
- Have a plan for leftovers. Is there somewhere you can take what you don’t sell, either to try again or to donate?
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