Advice on approaching local stores....

93
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
I'd like to approach some small local shops/specialty stores about stocking some of my vegan products. The items would include small snack cakes, cheesecakes and small special occasion cakes. Can anyone offer advice on the best way to approach these shops. I was thinking of printing up a brochure of available items and prices and then taking these along with some samples to each shop. Should I call to set an appointment or just find out when the store manager or owner is in and just show up? I'm also still up in the air on pricing for wholesale so any advice would be appreciated.
 

isa

3,236
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Joined Apr 4, 2000
Don't call, it's harder to dismiss someone when you're face to face. make sure you go at a time when the stores aren't too busy.


The brochure is a great idea, make sure it has all the informations people will need to know should they like to stock your products.
 
1,839
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Joined May 29, 1999
gonna disagree on that one.
best to ask your vendors for leads, cold call on the phone and find out the manager, owner, person in charge. make an appointment or invite them over for a tasting. no is not an option. mail out a brochure, follow up with a call and bring a tasting.
i hate it when someone walks in and many chefs, shop owners don't have the time unless given forwarning.
your product is wonderful so don't be intimidated.
get your foot in the door with a few places and see what happens!
 
1,310
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Joined Dec 4, 2001
Do you have any issues with your local Health department?
I know that here in San Francisco you can only sell food that was produced in a commercial kitchen that the DPH monitors and regulates. I don't mean to put a damper on the idea. It's just a thought. Good luck with your plans :)

Jock
 
93
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Thanks for the advice Mbrown & Isa, I'm getting a list together of places to contact, names, etc

Thanks for your concern Jock, but I am legal with a fully inspected commercial kitchen approved for wholesale and retail sales.:p
 
415
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Joined Jan 15, 2001
I totally agree with mbrown. Call ahead and set a time ----nothing worse than being interrupted by vendors when I'm in the middle of mixing batters or rushing things to the oven.

Good luck!
 
93
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Thanks Angrychef,

I'm definitely leaning toward calling ahead and if I get an outright no then I'll prepare samples to drop off with a brouchure introducing myself, pricing, etc so that I don't take up anyone's time or cut into their day.
 
1,245
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Joined Sep 21, 2001
A BIG problem with new vendors is keeping up with demand, product consistancy, quality, service, and similar issues. To me, getting the item placed is the easiest part, THE FIRST TIME! If I buy it from you will I make enough to make it worth stocking your product? Will there be enough demand? What about returns or stale or damaged items? How about merchandisers for you stuff? Or signage and point of sales materials? If you have a good item and convince you potential customer that when he decides to RELY ON YOU that you do what you do, come He77 or high water. your customer base will grow. There is nothing worse as a retailer than to be unable to get what I ordered when I want it under regular circumstances. Not being able something get when I need it? Personally? REALLY P!SSES ME OFF! So when you get ready to talk to these people, THINK OF ME! CONVINCE ME! And if you have good answers for a tight-wadded skeptic like me, you should'nt have ANY problem with any other buyers either. Good luck!
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
7,107
542
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Overly rapid expansion can be your downfall. Try to make a plan and stick to it as close as possible. Lots of good advice here, and you might find even more at your local Small Business Development office.

Kuan
 
93
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Peachcreek,

Thanks for the food for thought! Are you from NY? Though I heard a NYer in all that YELLING! It was effective because I think of your post as I put my sales material together.

Kuan,

Thanks for your input and you're right about over expansion. Originally when I was thinking about opening a shop I came across Panini on another site. He also warned me about biting off more than I could chew and making sure I had alot of support in place before embarking on any of this. He let me bounce my ideas and plans off of him and gave alot of info/ideas/warnings back. My original plan was to market more to wholesale than retail which is why I have my food permit with the dept of ag. I love cake decorating too much to pound out cookie cutter cakes just to make up retail sales. Been there and hated it. Making wholesale dessert cakes, cookies, etc is more enjoyable to me that writing "Happy Birthday Eunice" on a bday cake with exactly 3 roses and 7 leaves because it offers a bit more variety. Maybe you won't agree but can still understand the thought of doing a sheetcake bringing tears to my eyes:cry: ! Anyway, I have such a small shop it would be insane for me to take on too much business. I'd literally have no where to put everything, supplies, orders waiting for packaging, delivery, etc. So I'm just looking to stock some items in a few specialty/health food stores (I love the challenge of making stuff without eggs, dairy, regular sugar, etc) and take on a catering hall, make rent and pick and choose what retail cakes orders interest me. :cool: The good life!:D
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
7,107
542
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Heh... a small shop is great! It's actually perfect for practicing "Just in Time" concepts :) You order just what you need, inventory is always fresh, product gets shipped at its peak, good steady cash flow results... etc. Plus with wholesale, your market is not limited by the amount of space you have like in a restaurant.

Kuan
 

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