Remember how last week I sold strawberries? I did manage to pick and sell one quart this week (the season is almost over), but I did have something else to sell... sour cherries! The cherry tree on our property decided to spill over with fruit this week. I made cherry preserves with 8 or 9 quarts (to sell, of course!) and then on Friday I found some time to pick fresh cherries to sell. I ended up picking four quarts and selling three of them.
My brothers also brought some mulberries. As I mentioned last week, selling produce is a win-win for everyone because it draws more people to the booth, and the seller gets more money because there are fewer costs of production (ingredients, etc.). Unfortunately, as one customer put it, "Everyone has a mulberry tree in their backyard". Thus, the mulberries weren't a big hit.
Making Progress with Small Batches
One thing that I'm getting better at is making just enough food for the farmers market. It is tempting to save time by making bigger batches, then selling that big batch over the course of several weeks. However, it's best to sell things as fresh as possible. This week I figured out how to make smaller batches of marshmallows, toffee, applesauce bread and banana bread. This is a great accomplishment, because smaller batches mean less waste and less wasted money. Remember my toffee dilemma from a couple weeks ago? I've figured out that the most toffee I can sell is three bags... more like one or two on a normal day. If I make a batch of toffee that costs $3.50, I've created $18 of potential profit. If I only sell one bag, then the batch has paid for itself but I'm throwing away $13.50 of profit. This week I made a $2 batch of toffee (two bags) and sold one bag. Not only did the batch pay for itself, but I made $2.50 worth of profit. Baby steps, baby steps. At least we're not going backwards anymore.
This week I also decided to make some plain sandwich bread to sell. This cost me $0.75. Unfortunately the bread did not sell, but I blame it on the rain and the fact that it was possibly overpriced. The good news is that I only "wasted" $0.75, and I'll be able to use it this week in my meal plan. So nothing was really wasted.
I also made some herbal tea that didn't sell, but it was hastily packaged and also possibly overpriced. This week I will find better packaging for the tea.
The Bottom Line
No-Bake Cookies: $3.50
Rice Krispies: $3.50
Banana Bread: $5.00
Total Income: $38.00
Costs of goods sold: $6.98
Total Expenses: $15.98
Total Net Profit: $22.02
My costs of goods not sold this week was $8.02. However, I'll be taking the banana and applesauce breads to a church potluck ($5 value... $1.77 cost to make) and we will eat the sandwich bread ($0.75). Extra toffee ($1.21) will go to one of Hubs' lucky customers. This only leaves $4.26 in "wasted" ingredients between the extra rice krispies ($2.52) and no-bake cookies ($1.74). And I'm sure Hubs will be happy to take care of those for me.
Weather Does Matter
Profits were still decent, especially considering the rain. Hey, remember my four-dollar day? Or my seven dollar day? We've been... kind of unfortunate this year with the weather. Each week I keep track of weather in addition to who worked the booth and any other notes. I've posted a graph below for your amusement.
Is it worth it, after nine weeks, to continue selling at the market? I think so. Why quit when you're just starting to get the hang of it? By now I've kind of figured out what the most popular, most profitable products are. It's fun for me to think of new products or marketing ideas during the week, and to crunch numbers after every market day. It's kind of like my weekend hobby.
In addition to being fun, the market gives me a place to sell the things I make at home. What are Hubs and I going to do with a whole orchard of fruit? What are we going to do with the extra produce, herbs, and scrap lumber lying around? If I don't sell it or give it away, it will all just sit and rot. Selling the extra things I make is the "industrious" part of industry & frugality.
If I were to do the market all over again, I would take all of the best-selling products of we three sisters-in-law, and only sell them. This would eliminate unprofitable products and the cost of goods not sold. I would only make as much perishable product as I could sell (now that my records tell me how much that is!). All of my big purchases would already be made and I would drive a more fuel-efficient car for fewer overhead costs every week. I would spend a few hours each week baking, and half the day Saturday selling. According to my records, with this amount of work I would end up grossing $100-$200 per week, netting 50-75% of that. I don't think you'd become a millionaire from it, but it's not bad for a weekend hobby. And remember, most hobbies end up COSTING you.
This coming Saturday, we won't be at the market in observance of Independence Day.
Til next time!