Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A bit of market research

My partner and I love a good market.  In fact on our recent travels to Asia I think I took more pictures of the produce at food markets than of any of the amazing sites we visited!  And as I enjoy a good pun we decided our market research should start by literally checking out our local farmers' market to suss out the competition.  As luck would have it the monthly Shoreham Farmers' Market was running the first Saturday after we arrived back so we made the pleasant 10 minute drive along the coast to see what it was all about. 

We got there nice and early and ready to go with notebook and pen in hand when we hit the start of the blue and white striped gazebos we were suddenly struck with a pang of fear.  What if there were already too many people doing the same thing we wanted to do?  What if they were much better than us?  Why would any of the stallholders want to answer our questions if it meant giving tips to the competition?  How do we write down their prices subtley without them noticing?! 

So we chickened out of talking to the first bakery stall and decided to talk to a local poultry farmer about his eggs instead.  We want to source our ingredients as locally as possible (and in any case, a minimum percentage of local ingredients is a requirement of some of the farmers' markets nearby) so this could be a good first box ticked.  But then we realised that we should have done a little more preparation when we didn't know the answers to simple questions like how many eggs do we need each week!  I've guessed at 30-40 so it will be interesting to see how far off I am when we do start trading...

One of the main things I'm struggling to gauge before we start is just how much produce we will need to bake.  There were some stall holders that seemed to have piles of pies or mountains of loaves of bread - there's no way we can compete on that scale using our domestic oven without working flat out 24/7!  So bread is definitely ruled out.  There were also two cake sellers whose creations looked absolutely delicious -A Taste Of Dreams who sell small and large cakes of all sorts and Teddy's Tearooms who sell cakes by the slice.  But seeing the numbers of cakes that they brought to market means it's also probably unrealistic for us to try and create from our home kitchen.

And then the fear struck again.  We've risked our regular income and spent our savings on a new kitchen that might just be too small to start the business from.  It's a bit late to realise that now.....

So instead our cunning plan is that we've decided to plump for sweet treats that can be baked in batches - think brownies, muffins, flapjacks, bakewell bars, biscuits...  although I'm still none the wiser as to how many we'll need to bake for market!

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