Yes, I am a "street fairie". Never in my life did I ever say "I hope someday I peddle caramel candy at farmers markets and street fairs". Never. Never in my life would I have thought something so VERY different from ANYTHING I have ever done before is so much flippin' fun! Selling at the Encinitas Fall Festival yesterday was a whole new experience. Thank goodness I had so much help and support. I'm telling ya, it took 3 of us fairies to pass out samples (more on that later), answer questions and fill orders. Lot of orders. Making bank orders. Hmmm... maybe this is a good thing after all! Now I don't like to drop names here on this public blog, but I just have to give recognition where recognition is due. My lifelong BFF Irene volunteered weeks ago to assist at this fair. Along with her husband Dan (the awesome custom crate craftsman) and daughter-in-law Kirsten. These guys rock! And they had fun too. People watching from inside a market booth is a whole new world. We ran that sucker like a well oiled machine and I just can't thank them enough... And what can I say about my husband Ron? 35 years ago while reciting our vows, I don't remember "to have and to hold, through thick and thin, and wrap pounds of caramels late into the night, and set up a market booth at 6:00 am until death do you part" being part of the package. Thank you honey for all your help! I'm really surprised that so many people like to come out to these fairs and visit me! My son Brad, daughter-in-law Ronda, grand cuties Ethan, Allison and Ashley ("we like YOUR fair Grandma"), friends Monica, Ivan and neighbors, Jack, Susie and everyone else who stopped by. I thank you all for the party at Cheryl's Caramels! Now if you are at all curious about my previous "sampling" dilemma, let me share with you what I decided to do... So many of you offered up suggestions and solutions and I truly thank you for your input. I combined a little bit of all advice and decided to have my patrons ask for a sample. I put a new banner that states the above, and it works fabulously! It weeds out the "trick or treaters" (quote from another street fairie) and frees up space for potential customers. It also gives you a chance to close the deal as you are now one on one with that customer. I learn so much at each event and really like my fellow fairies. So I'll do another market, go another week, another month - until it's too much work, or I'm too old (the hot dog guy celebrated his 80th at the sunset market with great fanfare). And I'll keep enjoying the people and smiles that my yummy candy puts on peoples faces... Now it's time to prepare for Thanksgiving, regroup and refresh for my next Oceanside Sunset Market on December 5th: http://www.cherylscaramels.com/event/oceanside-sunset-market/
Archive for November 25, 2013
I have to admit it's been a crazy week, but I am prepared (I think) for the Encintas Fall Festival tomorrow! Now this Festival is supposed to be HUGE, with over 500 vendors, lots of stages with local talent, crafts, food galore and a beautiful sunny day on the coast too boot... They actually shut down Coast Highway in downtown Encinitas for this one from the Encinitas sign to Swami's. I'm told this is the premiere holiday fair in San Diego and over 100,000 folks are expected to attend. I hope they are all in the market for some tasty caramels! I hope I made enough. I hope I have enough samples too! Ended up having to acquire a "sampling" permit from the county (don't ask) so even if I do run out, I can cut more right in my booth. See these awesome wooden crates that I can store, carry and display my caramel buckets in? Well my dear friend's husband custom made them for me. Each one is an individual work of art and a labor of love from a master craftsman! I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life and "through the roof" support. My wonderful husband is almost as fast as me wrapping each and every caramel! Well, it's time to load up the candy mobile as tomorrow is going to start early. Lots of friends and family are planning on visiting (and helping) with Cheryl's Caramels tomorrow, so it's going to be a party! Hope you all can make it down to the Festival - and bring an appetite and your Christmas list. Support your local merchants and buy local this year! For more information about the Encinitas Fall Festival, click here: http://www.cherylscaramels.com/event/23-annual-encinitas-fall-festival/
So, now that I am an old pro as a market vendor with a grand total of 3 under my belt, I have learned quite a bit. The good, the bad, and the ugly. First of all, the main thing that I have learned is that this "Carney" business is hard work! Not like my previous career as a graphic designer hard work, but physical hard work. Cooking, cutting, wrapping, set up, tear down, all in a short time slots. Who needs the gym? I've noticed most of my fellow vendors are pretty buff - now I know why! And I just love said fellow vendors. They are really a fun group of people who are more than willing to offer their help, advice and encouragement. It's like a little community - knowing everyone on a first name basis, the ever present "how were your sales today", smiles and bartering each others goods. Is this what markets were like since the beginning of free trade thousands of years ago? There is something truly wonderful about it all! Now to my dilemma... I provide prepackaged "samples" of all 9 flavors of my caramels. I offer them up in those little plastic cups with lids, you know, the ones you make jello shots in. I place them in little baskets on my presentation table for folks to take and try. At last weeks market, I ran out early.This week I doubled up - and still ran out. It's great to have potential customers actually try my goodies, as they really sell themselves, but there are a few "bad apples" that might bring the sampling thing to a screeching halt! More than a few times, this has happened: A large group of people will come over, show interest and chat me up whilst the rest of their group literally cleans me out of samples! I actually witnessed them pick up the whole basket and dump it into their rather large bags. Then, of course, they just saunter away... and leave me with a WTF look on my face! So, herein lies the dilemma - what do I do? Any and all advice is welcome! Here are a couple of suggestions that I received from other vendors: - Personally hand out samples and not have them out for grabs. - Display a sign that states "Free samples - just ask!" What say YOU?
Well, let me tell you... the Sunset Market every Thursday evening in downtown Oceanside is really "a happening" and I had an absolute blast peddling my delicious caramels here! From 5:00 to 9:00 the place was jumpin'! Lots of live bands, unique and delicious hot foods, all kinds of retail booths, and the "bistro" section where Cheryl's Caramels is located among other gourmet goodies like fresh pesto, feta dips and olives, olive oils, sausages, gluten free goodies, coffee and espresso and live jazz. MainStreet Oceanside, the Sunset Market organizers really know their stuff! From load-in to load-out they were real pros. They even stopped by to see how I was doing and give me some welcomed advice on how to improve my booth to attract more customers... Kudos to MSO! Now I knew this was a big market, but I didn't expect THOUSANDS of merry shoppers. I actually sold out of a few flavors and completely ran out of samples. Live and learn! Next week, I will totally be prepared - and hope to see you there! Check out Oceanside's Sunset Market at: http://www.sunsetmarketoceanside.com/
A dear friend of mine wanted to try my delicious "Coffee Break" caramels, but it was after noon - and she absolutely, positively can NOT do caffeine after noon! Now, my "Coffee Break" caramels DO contain caffeine, not that much mind you, but full test coffee is an ingredient. So why not replace the high test, with decaf? Hmmm... It's worth a try! So today, I'll be doing research and development to see if a decaf version of my "Coffee Break" caramels is up to my taste standards. Tomorrow I'll be having lunch with said friend that will last way beyond noon. I'll test them out on her. Hey - nothing ventured, nothing gained! Wish me luck, Cheryl UPDATE: The new Decaf Coffee Break caramels were a hit! Give them a try if you too can't do caffeine... Personally, I can't tell the two flavors apart - and that was after all, the goal!