Today was my second farmer's market. Last weekend was my first and I did not have samples. Today I had samples of the bars that I make and I have my standard bars that are $4, and then I have a fancy bar which I had cut up some and made samples but ran out. Then this woman came up and mind you, I had samples of everything else out on the table, and she told me "you should have more samples". I told her I only had 3 bars left and didn't want to cut one up for samples. Meanwhile I'm cutting samples of other bars. Then the woman left and walking away said that she would have bought something if it wasn't for my attitude about the samples. I was probably shorter than I could have been, but I had so many samples out already, and it was only 11am when the market was going til 3pm (I did sell all the bars by description alone).
My question to you, fellow chocolatiers, is what would you have said to this person who is telling me what I "should" do, when I felt that I was out of samples to give and it would be losing me money. Should I have just cut up one of my $6 bars in hopes that she would buy one of the remaining 2? I felt like I did the right thing not cutting up more product that early in the day.
This was almost 12 hours ago and I can't stop thinking about it, thanks for your input!
I would say don't get sucked into being put on the defensive. Like you said, you had plenty of samples of everything else out. Redirect attention to what you DO have and don't even get into your reasons for not cutting up a bar. Or if you must, I would have focused on how they were so POPULAR there were only three left. Trust what customers do, not what they say. You have 2 weeks under your belt now, one with samples one without. Let your sales be what guide you. Did you make more sales with samples? What was your ratio of people who sampled and didn't buy, vs. sampled and did? Are they actually sampling to get an idea of what they want to buy or are they treating it more like Costco and just wanting to get whatever they can for free?
Don't let one person's sour attitude ruin what sounds like it was a successful day!
Thank you! It was a successful day and samples did help the weather was also better and I made about twice as much in sales yesterday as compared to last Saturday. It was mostly the people with kids who treated it like Costco, running up for their free samples without even asking what they were grabbing. For my next market, I will get a cover for the samples so people have to ask for them. I also had adults grab samples without asking what it was, then I tell them and they PUT IT BACK!?! I told them "you already touched that, please throw it away". I couldn't believe that adults did that! I'm learning so much that I think my markets will only get better :)
The problem with chocolate is that there are too many people who just want to sample your goods. The conversion, in my opinion, does not justify the cost of giving away. I think you did the right thing by not cutting up your bar. You have to follow your instinct. Sometimes you can tell what kind of customer is standing right in front of you, and you respond accordingly. Keep following your instinct. (Sometimes it helps to have someone along, who can deal with different people differently. I have found that when my husband comes with me, he is able to connect with some people, and I connect with others - and it works out much better). Don't let one negative attitude get to you.
Thank you! I could tell that woman in particular was kind of a B**** anyway just from her attitude. I have also had many people who seem like unlikely customers buy stuff so I try not to judge. It's nice to get some feedback that I did the right thing though by not cutting up my bars :) Towards the end of the day I only was giving samples of the thing I had a lot of and people were still buying some of the other things. Now I know what to make for the next market as far as what was popular. Thank you!
I have been selling my chocolates at the farmers markets for the last year now. I never give samples, don't need to. If they want to buy they will anyway. I always go with the attitude that people have their own crap going on that has nothing to do with me. I try to present myself as a happy friendly kinda gal, I smile a lot and say hello to everyone who stops by my stall, I sing and dance (discretely!) along to the market musicians and never fold my arms! I probably sound like a nutter! I enjoy the markets, I love talking to people and they often chat to me when they buy my delicious treats :)
I do farmers markets and I really feel for you. The woman was rude - don't waste your time or mental energy on her. It is a sad attitude that some have. You HAVE to move on.
I sample too. I feel it is vital. There are downsides and if you want I'll discuss further. But when you sample you'll get MANY more sales. There is however no point in breaking up almost the last of your stock to sell the last two bars. It takes longer but those last THREE bars will go!
You have to be tough, frieendly and open at farmers markets. Congratulations on giving it a go! You'll learn a LOT (like "take more samples if you can" and what is "good" and "less popular").
Do you have a plan to "move on" from markets? When it gets really hot or windy or wet or cold and when you lose your weekends and turn your life over to work alone, you need to have an "exit plan". I am in Australia and although we missed much of the Global Financial Crisis fallout "little guys" are doing it tough. Also, farmers markets are being taken over by bigger businesses that are rocketing up the stall prices while there are MANY more markets making it more costly and less effective to be at the markets. It's life - you need to watch and plan.
Now - forget that woman! Nibbling on dark chocolate releases endomorphins which make you feel good. I am SURE that you can find a nice bar of dark chocolate!
This is my first year selling my chocolates at the farmers market as well. I began my market experience back in October selling my chocolates for 1.25 each (15 - 16 grams) and initially I would not give samples. I did ok the first 2 weeks but would end the day taking home more then I wanted to. I began giving samples my 3rd week there regardless of how many or how few I had. If the customer wanted to try it I would let them even if they chose a flavor that I only had 1 or 2 pieces of. Long story short I would have to say about 80% to 90% of the customers that sampled them would buy from me and they became repeat customers. I am now to the point where I give out very few samples and usually end up selling 90 - 100% of my product. You kind of have to look at it as an investment and all investments have there individual risks and rewards. Not to mention that word of mouth is a very powerful thing. My advice would be that the next time someone asks you for a specific sample even if you have only one bar left give them the sample and eat the cost. You may not only get a repeat customer but that person may also tell their friends about your chocolates. The reward far outweights the risk. Sorry for such a long reply but I hope it helps.