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I love to bake and I'm thinking of selling baked goods at my local flea market on weekends. I am looking for advice on what to make and how many items to sell? Thanks for the help.
Megin from North Haven, CT
I vote for classic chocolate chip or chocolate chunk cookies. They're a perennial favorite, and sure to sell well. Just about anything chocolate usually sells like gangbusters. Eating chocolate just raises people's spirits.
At a flea market, people want to buy what they can carry away in their hands which are already full of other things. So a cake would be hard to sell, pies slightly better, cookies best. Pies and cakes are too much work for the labor. My girlfried has a gadget like an ice cream scoop that measures and drops cookies onto the cookie sheet fast, about one per second. You could use a cookie gun but it does cookies that are too small.
Depending in where you live, you may need a permit to sell stuff from your kitchen. Health dept may require commecailly approved kitchen.
My friend used to make homemade doughnuts, and she sold out all the time. Fruit pies made from scratch -- ie blueberries or saskatoons in this area, not from canned fruit -- are also favorites.
I used to bring jelly rolls to bake sales, and they also sold well. They were easy to make, yet looked difficult, and could be relatively small, so that they were less expensive.
I personally don't think large decorated cakes are good, as they are labor intensive, and what do you do with a big cake if it doesn't sell. It may depend on your clientele. I would only do something like that for a holiday, such as Valentines day, and then only one.
I think homemade bread and buns are always very popular as well. Be sure to list the ingredients on the tag these days, as so many people are interested in that -- want to know that it doesn't contain nuts, or whatever.
Muffins are a good choice too, as are tarts. You can package them in packs of 1/2 dozen, and then if people want larger amounts, they can buy 2 packs.
I too was interested in selling baked goods. I live in Vernon, CT and made a visit to the local health dept. in Vernon. I was told that I need a separate kitchen in my house to be licensed to sell baked goods.
There's probably not much I can add to the great suggestions already given here, other than to recommend your prices are set to recoup your costs.
In addition to the obvious ingredient cost, be sure to consider the more subtle costs such as:
- energy (oven, mixer, etc), labor (your time in making the item),
- consumables (plastic wrap, parchment paper, aluminum foil, etc),
- packaging (plastic bags, cardboard containers, etc),
- display accessories (paper plates, plastic forks, tablecloth, etc),
This might seem unnecessary, but remember; math works its wonders whether or not we like numbers.
Math will gladly multiply profit, or compound loss, with every piece you sell , so it's worthwhile to make sure its on your side before you get started.
A tool that helps keep math on your side (i.e., keeps you profitable) is a recipe cost calculator.
Recipe cost calculators easily handle the complex math and measurement conversions you run into when trying to assess the cost of a recipe.
An example of an online recipe cost-to-bake calculator can be found at http://www.pricingbakedgoods.com
This is a page about pricing to sell baked goods. It can be hard to price homemade treats, because you want to ensure that you make a profit beyond the cost of the ingredients.
This is a page about selling baked goods at flea markets. One way to expand the market for your small baked goods business is to sell your product at the local flea market.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Chris from Williamstown, NJ
I would buy a black walnut cake, coconut cake, or an applesauce cake. (01/08/2009)
Carrot cake or red velvet cake. (01/08/2009)
I'm always tempted by cookies...especially when they are nicely packaged in some way. Also consider providing samples at your point of sale to encourage buyers. Good luck! (01/08/2009)
By K. Osei
I love buying tarts and pies, also treats that are inexpensive like assorted cookies on a plate decorated at Christmas. (01/09/2009)
I like to buy giant cookies, especially peanut butter and snickerdoodle. I wouldn't buy pies or cakes, as I don't want to carry them around the rest of the day. (01/10/2009)
Here in the farmer's markets in the summer & fall you don't need a license, but you do pay a spot fee of $5 per week. Doing this for profit you would need a county or city permit which then involves the department of health.
Idea: Do word of mouth of specialty baking around holidays, weddings, showers, etc. Hang info with your number at grocery stores, let churches know (someone is always planning a party and needs baked goods). Post a note at your local school (many look for help in baking around graduation time). Put an add in the classified to HELP WITH BAKING NEEDS. Figure out a way to stay out of the regulations by not being a business that needs to pay taxes, self employment paper work, etc. We have many here that do specialty--Christmas or Easter baking only. Some do cookies, some breads. Also, leave your name with local food co-ops. Once you network, you may find more than you can handle.(01/11/2009)
By Grandma J
Here in south Georgia, we have a festival to honor/celebrate everything from the sweet potato to the fire ant! One of our annual visits is to the Hahira Honey Bee Festival in Hahira, Ga where there is always a booth with home baked cakes which I always spend money on! The 2 sisters bake those good old fashioned 15 layer homemade cakes in a variety of flavors. From carrot to chocolate, red velvet to caramel, they are all delicious!
You have a choice of buying them in 3 ways, by the slice for $2 (imagine how many slices you can get out of one cake!), by the half cake for $15 or a whole cake for $25. They even allow you to buy 2 of the halves in any combination of flavors and charge you for a whole cake so you can please everyone's favorite flavor. Another good seller are small loaves of anything, such as fresh apple cake or banana bread. Not too expensive and easy to carry, they usually sell for around $3.00 a loaf. Good luck on your venture and happy baking!(01/14/2009)
By Robin Herrin
Homemade bread or rolls would be my first choice. My second choice is homemade pie. Best of luck. (01/14/2009)
By Carol in PA
Pumpkin Roll is one that I bought that I would buy again from a reputable person. Any cute decorated cake especially during holidays is a good seller. Cookies do best sold in packages of three or so, just what someone would eat on the spot. (01/14/2009)
By Karen L.
Check with your local Department of Health. They may want you to do your baking in a licensed kitchen. It doesn't have to be a commercial kitchen. It could be something like a church or VFW kitchen. (01/14/2009)
You need to contact the Gloucester County Department of Health. They have strict requirements for selling prepared foods. You need to apply for a permit ($75). (01/14/2009)
We used to go to a local smallish flea market on the weekends and I'd spend a couple days of the week making everything from cookies to loaves of fresh yeast bread. I'd be sold out before 10am, no matter what I took that weekend. I made loads of Jello Cakes in every flavor, Sour Cream Cookies were always a favorite and so were my Parker House and Cloverleaf Rolls. I made Banana Walnut Breads in regular sized loaves which I sold for $7 each. The price would be more today since the cost of all the ingredients have gone up so drastically.
If you enjoy baking (as I do), indulge yourself, and give it a try. There are just too many ladies out there who don't know how to do anything in the kitchen that doesn't involve a microwave and opening a little box.
Commercial products are loaded with all sorts of preservatives and that's what they taste like. Home-Baked goods are wholesome and delicious, and consequently, they are worth a lot more. Take the cost of every ingredient in your product and triple it.
You need to get paid for your time, your knowledge, and what it costs you for the ingredients. These days when we go to a flea market, I search for the Home-Baked Goods Booths and that's where I spend my money. I also enjoy talking to the ladies and a few men who are doing the baking. You'll always find your favorite bakers, and so often, they will bake things you ask for, so that they have sales already made when they go the following week.
If you make something really special, require at least a deposit equal to the cost of ingredients and your time. If the person who asks for it is serious, they are happy to do this in order to guarantee they'll get what they want.
Around the holidays, make up small cookies, put them in pretty teacups (with saucers) wrap it all up in saran wrap with a pretty bow, and you'll sell every one you take. Just a pretty plate of assorted cookies wrapped in saran wrap with a bow makes a lovely gift, so take advantage of the need for these items. Wishing you the best of luck. Julia in Coconut Creek, FL(01/15/2009)
Thanks everyone for the great advice and encouragement! (01/15/2009)
I love to bake, and my friends and co-workers love it also. So I have a fun second income making banana chocolate chip bread, and other treats and selling them at affordable prices. I do all of this out of my own kitchen at home. I'm also thinking about branching out with cookies also, and would love some feed back on packaging. (01/16/2009)
I go straight for the pizzelles at bake sales. They are a pain to make and they are my favorite. Just an idea for you. Sandy (01/17/2009)