What it's like to sell macarons at a farmers market + tips!
Hello friends! Welcome to my little blog space, today’s post is all about what it's like to sell macarons at a farmers market plus some tips. Before we dive in, I just want to say this is what it's like for me personally, so it's okay if something I do doesn’t work for you. Macarons are not “a one size fits all”.
I started my first market almost three years ago, which when I think about that now I’m like omg it’s been 3 years!? I absolutely love being part of 2 markets (Tomball & Fall Creek). There’s something so comforting about being surrounded by the other vendors who are also putting themselves out there and selling something they’re passionate about. I’ve met some of the best people I know at the markets I attend, both vendors and customers.
Part of why I love doing the market is because it allows me to work when I want to work. My life pretty much revolves around my husband and my niece, so my schedule changes all the time. I bake when it's most convenient for myself and my family. I will say though, sometimes I’m a little too lenient with myself, there's times where I shouldn't have slept in or I just don’t use my time as wisely as I should.
Right now my weeks are usually:
(this is just an example of my current weekly schedule, it changes from time to time and you do not need to follow it)
Mondays - Lylah (my niece) from 9-12, scale recipes & make fillings, bake 3 batches and fill.
Tuesdays - Lylah 7-5 (school from 9 to 2) during that time I bake as much as I can and fill after my brother picks up my niece and after I eat dinner.
Wednesdays - Bake the rest of the menu for the week and fill.
Thursdays - Lylah 7-5 (school from 9-2) bake and fill characters. Package as much as I can after my brother picks up my niece and after dinner.
Fridays - Sleep in until like 8am if I'm lucky lol then I finish any packaging that needs to be done. Then I get everything ready for the market.
Saturdays- Wake up, get ready, load up macs and head to the market. Set up, sell out (hopefully) pack up and take a hard core nap.
Sundays - (every other Sunday) Wake up, get ready, load up macs and head to the market. Set up, sell out (hopefully) pack up and take a hard core nap.
If I don't have a market I take Sunday off, I pick up ingredients, take time to relax and spend time with my family, and then I work on blog posts.
In between all of that, I take and edit photos, cook and clean, run errands, etc. I try to stay as organized as possible. I use a planner and I make tons of lists. I'm talking daily lists and weekly lists, sometimes my lists have lists within lists. I also try to make as much time as possible for my husband. I try to only work when he’s working, that way we’re off at the same time.
A lot of people ask me if you can make a living selling macs at market. ABSOLUTELY! I do this full time. But it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Markets aren’t always consistent. Sometimes it's slow, sometimes people just don't come out that weekend for whatever reason. Luckily I’m pretty creative, I’m constantly thinking of ways to get customers to come out. You can totally make a living selling macs. It just takes a bomb af product, some trial and error, a lot of hard work and some good marketing. I’d be lying if I didn't tell you it was a lot of hard work. Baking takes up a lot of my time and even when I'm not baking I'm still working. I have to work on my website, answer emails, get ingredients, wash dishes, test recipes, take photos and all the other not so fun things.
Being a part of a market isn't for everyone. It takes a lot out of you to do this every weekend, but if you’re truly passionate about it, it’s so worth it.
(these are in no particular order)
1. Have a good product!
Wait until you're confident about whatever it is you’re trying to sell. The whole point of selling a product is one, for people to like it but two, you also want people to come back! If you are even questioning a batch, just don’t sell them. I personally just don't like that little voice in the back of my head questioning things, I already got a lot going on so no thank you! I also like to ask myself a few questions before selling a batch. 1. Would I be proud to say I made these? 2. How would I feel if someone posted a picture of these? And then I go forward with them.
2. Visit multiple markets before applying.
It's so important to do this! Make sure the market you apply to has a vibe that you like and would feel comfortable being apart of. It might also help to ask some current vendors how they like it there.
3. Booth display & customer service matter!
Make it clear what you are selling. Use inviting colors. Have different levels of decor. Keep signs simple and to the point. A lot of you guys wanted details on exactly how I set up. I don’t mind sharing but I also want you guys to know that it doesn't even matter because there is no right or wrong way to set up for a market so just have fun and make people feel welcome in your 10 x 10! My preferred set up is just one table with my display case, cash box, and bags/boxes. I like a more simple table so that my macs can shine. It's okay to draw inspiration from someone but I definitely feel like people are attracted to authenticity. For example, I’m a nerd so I like putting our little plushies and pops of my favorite anime characters. This draws in people who like the same things as I do, and it helps start conversations.
Talk to your customers! Get to know them, they are the most important thing about a small business! I absolutely love my customers, when I make conversations with them I genuinely care about what they have to say. I also like to remember my customers favorite flavors and let them know if I have a new flavor I think they will like.
Here are some examples of my set up throughout the years :)
Also, I have the best customers in the world! If you draw me something or make me something not only will I cherish it but I'll put it out on my table :) Here are some things I've been gifted by some amazing people.
4. Vendor etiquette!
ALWAYS offer help to other vendors. If you see someone setting up a tent alone, offer to help. If someone is struggling to set up, ALWAYS offer to help. AND please! Unload all your stuff and then move your car before you start setting up. This allows other vendors to be able to pull in to their spots and do the same. Don't be an inconsiderate jabroni.
5. Make sure you have the required permits & licenses.
These will vary by location so I can't tell you exactly what you need to have. I operate under the Texas cottage food law, but even with that different counties have more specific rules about what they consider to be okay. If you are unsure about what you need to have or what you can and can not sell its always best to contact the health inspector that visits your market.
6. How many macs should you bring?
This is probably the question I get asked the most. I hate to say it but there’s no magic number. Like I said earlier markets aren’t always consistent, so sometimes you sell out and sometimes you don't. The amount I bring to a market depends on a few things. Firstly is the market big or small? How much foot traffic is there? What's the weather going to be like? And do I have any custom orders this week? I used to be really hard on myself and try to set somewhat of a quota of how much I should bake, but that got hard and stressful for me so I stopped that. To help me determine how many macs to make, I keep track of my inventory and bake more of my bestsellers. For example, circus animal sells more than coconut lavender so I’ll make more circus animal. If it's a holiday or if there's an event going on near one of my markets I make extra macs since more people will be expected to be walking around.
To figure out a rough estimate of how many macs you should make, I suggest making a TON of macs, I’m talking bake your butt off amount. Do this for a few weeks and keep track of how many you sell and what flavors sold the most, and then you’ll have an idea of how many macs you should bake each week. Also, The amount of macs I make now is WAY more than when I first started, by like 100’s. It took me 3 years to get to this point so don't freak out if you’re not selling out every week, it takes time!
It's rare that I have left overs, but if I do I either give them to family and friends:)
7. Cash or card.
Some of you wanted to know if I prefer cash or card. Cash is usually better because POS systems charge a small fee per swipe and a processing fee. But not all people carry cash so it's just more convenient to have a card reader. Plu, you could also miss out on a lot of sales if you only accept cash.
To determine my pricing, I cost out all my recipes. You should know how much it costs you to make a batch of macs, and the cost of an individual mac. When doing this be sure to include things like packaging, utilities, and labor. It may also help to check out what people in your area charge. You don't have to do this, but i like giving customers a “deal” like if you buy half a dozen you get a dollar off.
9. Make friends.
Make friends with vendors! I love using products from other vendors and supporting other small businesses. I try to use as many local products as I can in my macs. These types of connections help both you and the other vendor make more sales. For example I use local honey in my honey macs, so when someone buys one I make sure to tell them where they can buy some. And in return when someone buys honey, my friend Gina tells them they can buy macs using honey at my booth.
10. Have fun.
The best tip I can give you is to simply have fun! Bake the flavors you want to bake and decorate your booth how you see fit! Don't let a slow day break your spirits, always stay positive and keep baking!
Thank you so much for being here! Please let me know if you have any questions or if you need more clarification on something.
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Peace, love & macs