Sunday, 5 June 2011

Kemptown Carnival - our first market stall a success!

I have to start off this post with a huge THANK YOU to everyone that came down to support our Brighton Bakery stall at the Kemptown Carnival yesterday.  We had a really great day, met some lovely people and even managed to make a profit so I think we can proudly say that our first market stall was a success.

After a marathon baking session on Friday using as much local produce as possible (sourced from the excellent Park Farm Shop on the outskirts of Brighton) we arrived to set up our stall with over 200 sweet treats for sale.  As this was our first stall we could only guess at how much to bring, but based on 10,000 people coming to the carnival and the hefty £110 stall fee to cover we hoped that 200 was a good number that would at least cover our costs.

We didn't get off to the best start when the table we had hired from the carnival turned out to be 4 times the size we had ordered, but luckily we had a lovely stall neighbours Brighton Peach who lent us a larger tablecloth and we were good to go.

It was a bit slow to begin with, but we figured 10am wouldn't be prime cake buying time (I think I might be in the minority of people that like cake for breakfast).  It was a shame that we were right at the far end of the street so we didn't get anywhere near the footfall of the stalls in the middle, but there's not much we could have done about that.  After lunchtime things really picked up and we had a pretty steady trade throughout the afternoon.  At about 4.30 we dropped our prices which really helped - maybe we had been a bit ambitious with our prices to start off with so we will definitely look at that next time as we did end up bringing a few things back home with us.

We had a few strange looks from people when they realised our cakes were made using vegetables, but once they tried some of the free samples of our beetroot brownies they were won over and they started to fly off the plate and ended up becoming our best seller of the day.  Our Lemon Marmalade Flapjacks and Sticky Jamaican Ginger Cake also went down really well.  But I was surprised that the Chocolate and Banana Muffins didn't really tempt anyone and the Chilli Chocolate Cake (which I thought would be a real winner) didn't sell very well either.  Maybe it was the prices, maybe the portion sizes or maybe it was the choice of products but we will definitely look at changing them next time.  We also had several people come up and ask us if we sold any vegan cakes so I will be doing some research and there will be a vegan option for our next stall.  Speaking of which, the next event we will be at is the Picnic in Queen's Park on 26 June (see how seamlessly I slipped that one in??)

Despite my best Apprentice-style selling efforts dropping everything to £1 for the last 20 minutes we did have quite a lot leftover so anyone stopping by at ours in the next couple of days will be leaving with a goodie bag of treats.  And even though we had leftovers, we managed to sell more than £200 worth of cakes which covered the cost of the stall and ingredients and gave us a small profit.  If we take into account my labour costs for baking and Melissa and my costs for running the stall on the day then it's not very impressive, but this was always going to be a learning experience and we knew we were never going to make a huge profit.  It was also about more than making money - we wanted to get our name out to promote the bespoke cake side of the business and as a marketing tool I think it went very well.  Lots of people picked up cards, we made a few contacts and I even got 2 minutes on the radio to plug our business so I think we can be pretty pleased with that.

So lessons learned, bring on the next stall!


Beetroot Blog said...

Well done on your stall debut! The first of many, I should expect and I'm sure the profits will rise as quickly as your cakes!

BrightonBaker said...

Thanks very much! It was a lot of hard work but so pleased it all paid off x