Sunday, May 2, 2010

"How did the markets go?!"

I know you are all anxiously waiting to hear how my first market stall went, so I will keep you in suspense no longer!

Ultimately, the markets were a great experience. I was learning lots of new things about business and marketing and even picked up two brand new recipes to try! One of them is called a "Lollie Cake". It's a New Zealand favorite and I am really excited to give it a try! (Basically it's exactly the way it sounds!).

Carrara Markets are HUGE. I had never been before so I didn't know what to expect. But I certainly did not expect what I saw! Row after row, path after path of wooden stalls - everywhere! Just pic a stall, any stall! I am told there are over 500 and it's first come, first serve. But for this particular day I was situated in The Pavilion slightly behind the busiest areas. It was a more affordable option so I decided to give it a try there before moving into the renown packed places which were more expensive.

Well, the day was actually a lot quieter than anyone could have expected! Not only were all of us in The Pavilion surprised at the amount of customers we DIDN'T have, but even those in the usually packed areas were upset at the slow turnout. But despite this, customers took 1 inch worth of business cards! I just kept putting them on the table and they just kept disappearing! I was very surprised how many were gone by the time I looked down at the end of the day. Good thing I bought AND brought them!

Unlike something else I forgot on the day...... So we wake up at 4.30am to be out of the house and driving by 5.10am. Wow. Considering I was up until 2.45am actually decorating the cakes it really wasn't a great feeling to be doing my first stall EVER with less than 2 hours sleep. But, I soldiered on! After a tumultuous experience of driving around and around looking for a minuscule box marked "Office" where stood a man named 'Ed', I paid for the day and was finally directed to my stall which I was very happy with. I had two work benches, one for the cakes and a side bench for my little nic-nacs and working tools. I set up and this was the end result which I was really happy with. (John, the "lollie man" across from me offered to take a pic. thanks John!). Check this out:
So I was pottering around waiting for people to walk past when I received a phone call from Juan, who had just arrived back home, with an AWFUL question.. Well, it was more of a statement.....
"PLEASE tell me you don't need your wallet...."
Oh no! Between paying for the stall and unpacking everything I had left my wallet with all my money sitting in the car! Disaster!

My darling Juan, I would like to publicly declare you the World's Greatest Husband and most wonderful man in the world because not only did you stay up until almost 2am to keep me company the night before, but you also drove the 45 minutes to Carrara TWICE for me within 90 minutes just so that I could have a good day. I love you, I love you, I love you!

So, that was a little bump in the road, but come 7.30am I had my money and was ready to go. Waiting... waiting.... waiting. Chatting with John the "lollie man"... waiting, waiting, waiting.... When did these markets begin again? 9am rolled by... we got a few passers by. We were told that 10am was when it picked up.... I guess you can call 10 people every 5 minutes a pick up, but I wasn't really impressed.... 11am.... busier, but I was wondering if this was really all it was cracked up to be. Midday arrived and we had a pretty steady flow. Not overly busy, but steady enough. By now me and John the "lollie man" were great friends and I was learning a lot about his business. You know those long thick licorice straps with different colors and flavors they sell at markets? They're delicious and can be quite expensive. Well, he is the guy who brought them into Australia! Did you know originally come from Spain and they are all over Europe but have not yet hit America and Canada? Those licorice strips have already made him a lot of money and I think once they hit the USA they will be even more successful. If there is anyone that wants to start a franchise or work for him over in America, let me know. He has big plans! Plus, his wife, Vicki, was a successful cake decorator before she quit to help him so he even took pics of my cakes to email to her so she could give me some advice with marketing etc.

But I'm losing track here! Back to me and MY stall.

So I started my pricing at $45 but after about 30 minutes I decided I wasn't comfortable with that price and brought them down to $40. People loved the cakes but they didn't comment too often on the price, which made me rethink my pricing.... Then, after Vicki had seen the cakes via email she thought the best price was $35.00, which was the original price I had intended to sell for. So come 10am I was telling everyone they were $35.00 and receiving many comments about how good the prices were and that they were the perfect gift! Yay! I found my price! I was comfortable with this and the customers seemed to be as well. But before long I noticed a growing trend that was halting my success...... NEW ZEALAND TOURISTS!! I swear, every second person to come by the stall was from N.Z. I am NOT exaggerating. By 2pm I actually asked a customer if there was a bus that dropped off a bunch of N.Z tourists, because there were that many of them. But hey, they all loved my cakes, so that was a plus.

Long story short, I spent the day offering taste tests - which were a HUGE success, I took an order for a Mini the following Mother's Day weekend, I chatted with John the "lollie man" (who is named John Blackman, yes, related to THE John Blackman from Hey Hey it's Saturday! Yep, I've hit the big time friends! ;-) , laughed with Dave The Magician, listened to Majella the "bead lady" and basically had a lovely time showing off my adorable stall to the "oohs" and "aahs" of the passers by.

The Highlight of the day? Watching everyone's reactions as they looked at my fabulous black and white Wedding Mock. It came out even better than I was anticipating, so I was totally stoked. I fell I really went out on a limb with it, deciding to incorporate beads I had never used, or even seen used. I also had a vision of how cool the black fondant could look with the spectacular dark pink lilies I ordered in and was absolutely stoked with how they came out. I decided to add a little more ribbon to tidy it up and no one was more surprised than I, to see the final result. Here, this is it:
Compliment after compliment from both young and old flowed and people took card after card, so it really boosted my confidence in my own unique ideas and original designs.l designs.

Despite the fact that it was one of the quietest days anyone could remember, as well as the fact that I only received one order and didn't actually sell any cakes, I was very happy with the day and felt it was successful if only from the marketing perceptive. SO, that was my day. I met some really great people and I am looking forward to returning for the Mother's Day Weekend. Many people said they will return to get one then (we'll see..) and I'm hoping it will give people a better incentive to buy. But this week I will completely change my preparation routine so that I am NOT up until 2.30am the morning of the stall!! Hey, we live and learn!!!
Here are some pics of the cakes I had on display. I'll post some close-ups on my cake blog ( if you want to see them closer. Ciao for now!

Oh, and the brown one with the blue spots and the butterfly that Juan said didn't "match" and that no-one would like it... it was everyone's favorite! ha ha ha, who knows their stuff???? ;-)

1 comment:

  1. I love the sign! all those cakes look so great and i can see why you had heaps of compliments on that black and white one. I love it the more i look at it.