Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Panic and a solution. More Flea Market Stories.

Okay, last week we went in to super panic mode. Seriously panic. We are down to our last of our money and have nothing to show for the shop in the flea market at all. I spent $3000 on products, store fixtures, rent, business cards, etc. We have made maybe $300 the entire month selling jewelry. Joe and Joe the leather guys keep telling us that business will pick up and that we will do much better when the Christmas shopping comes around but I can't wait till then. We will be broke and need to make rent for the booth and rent for our trailer as well as our regular bills. 

We expected and had a plan that for the first month with everything we were reading online and everything that we had heard from the people who work at the flea market (managers, rental office people, etc) that we would come in and hit the ground running making about $1000-1500 a weekend. The first weekend I made a measly, what??? $30 maybe! That isn't going to cut it. So the next weekend we move thinking it is our space and location. We set up, it looks great and I made $19 the first day and maybe $50 the whole weekend. Still not going to cut it. But we have our savings.....right???? We expected to be able to put our profits back into the business with new merchandise and beef up our merchandise to about $10,000 (retail) in the first month. So then the second month we would take 50% profits out and pocket them and then put 50% back into the business to keep it running but still keeping about $10,000 in merchandise in stock. I even placed a second order for some product that would be great for Christmas holidays. I used some of our savings to purchase this knowing that holiday stuff was needed. It was in the plan but we were expecting to use the sales of other jewelry to fund that purchase. Ugh.

I can't remember if I told you or not but the first weekend we set up we were right next to a booth that had no back. This guy comes in about 2 hours after we got there and the flea market is already open and has been for a while. He backs up to the back of the booth pops his trunk and pulls out a vinyl sign and some boxes and opens up for business. He sells beef jerky in bulk. Not ten minutes after he arrives he has a line of people handing him money. He sells these bags for $20 a pop. It is good value, he gives out samples and he is making money hand over fist. A couple hours later he packs up and leaves. He was only there 4 hours and he said to my husband he made $600!!! The market is open from 9-5 and he is there from 10 to 2 maybe. The next day he shows up, does the same thing and leaves early. This day he mentions something to my husband that he wants to find someone who he can sell this stuff to wholesale and then not come to the market anymore. He says he drives 2 1/2 hours from the other side of the state to be here. :shock: That is 5 hours in the car a day. Crazy. That night my husband and I were talking and my husband says he might be interested in buying wholesale from him and selling beef jerky too. The guy made tons of money those two days doing basically nothing. So the next day, Sunday, I was by myself and talking to the jerky guy. I told him that we were interested in possibly doing jerky and buying from him. The jerky guy tells me that he has someone else who is interested and plus he isn't ready to start doing that yet and he wants to sell here himself for a while longer. So I said okay, no problem. 

A couple weeks ago my husband started looking into the jerky business and thought we would start with some other company, not the company the other guy is selling with. We buy some product but don't like it as well as the company the jerky guy is selling with. We contact the same company and they tell us they will sell to us. So last week we make a huge decision and go "all in" as they say in gambling worlds. We take all our last of our savings and spend it on beef jerky. We buy a pack of business cards and make a few signs on our computer. We rent the center table right in front of my booth. We set up and last Friday, my husband started selling beef jerky. He sold more than I sold that first day than I sold the entire month in jewelry! The next day he did better and Sunday was his best day! Sunday, people came looking for him to buy! :D :D :D 

So we are now in the beef jerky business. My husband is an awesome sales person and ropes them right in. He gives out samples and he tells them about his website too. You should go see it. http://www.jerkyrun.com

This weekend we sold half of what we had and sold out of many flavors. We placed another order this morning hoping to get it in by this weekend.

I am still going to keep my jewelry but sell it at a reduced rate through the holidays and see how things go. Kenneth wants us to close down the jewelry shop and get another booth at the other end of the flea market so we can reach more people. Lots of people have two or more booths in different places. There is a rule though that you can't sell the same stuff within 5 booths of someone else with the same stuff. So no one can sell jerky around my husband right now and we don't interfere with the other guy selling either. We are on aisle A and he is on aisle B. The other guy came in late on Friday and left early and then on Saturday he came in a little earlier and came and talked to my husband and told him that he would be interested in selling to us wholesale. He asked where we got our product from and we told him the manufacturer. He gets his from his brother who purchases it from the manufacturer and the brother lives in Chicago. Not sure what the brother does but it sounds like they split their shipments. Anyway the other jerky guy also asked why we didn't tell him we were interested in getting into the jerky business. We told him that I had talked to him about it and he said that someone else was interested and he wasn't ready to wholesale to people yet. He couldn't seem to remember that conversation. Hmmm..... Oh well. 

So things are improving for us now. FINALLY!!!! Yay! We are still super poor but we are moving in the right direction now. Today my husband is going around to some auto repair shops and such giving them his business cards and handing out samples of his product. If they want to buy right away he has it all in the back of the car and hopefully he will get people to come to him in the flea market along with wanting to buy right away from him today. He is also going to try out a few more flea markets in the area too and see if he can get in and sell.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Here is a "catch up" about what has been going on with us.

So here is the long and short of it. We will see how far I get before my kids interrupt me with questions on their school work.

We arrived here two weeks ago and found that, yes, there was a law stating that kids can not live in a campground during the school year, no matter where you are from and if you homeschool or not. This county is weird. The schools are HORRIBLE. They are the bottom of the list for Florida schools in testing and graduation. There is a pretty big homeschool community but we haven't tapped into it yet. Anyway, they have a law that says that school aged children can not live in a campground during the school year. So that means that we would have to move every 21 days to a new campground. We wouldn't be able to take advantage of any monthly discounts and such. So it would have been almost three times more expensive to be moving around every 21 days. So our first order of business when we got here was to get a storage unit, get a mailbox, and find a new campground that either wasn't in the county or didn't care about the law. We got the first two done quickly on the first day and the second day we were here we set out to find a new home. We went to 6 different campgrounds that second day and no one would let us "live" there. Even though we told them we were not residents, even though we told them we had paperwork to prove permission to homeschool, even though we told them anything! Finally as I was in tears one nice person at the KOA told us about a campground we hadn't found yet. She told us to go see Shawn and she had lived there and homeschooled her child and he didn't care.

It was dinner time by then so we went home, licked our wounds and set out the next day to find this campground. We pulled in and drove around before going to the office. It looked nice and quiet, very pretty. So we go to the office, tell the kids to sit in the car, and crossed our fingers. Shawn was AWESOME! We now have a pull through site on an asphalt pad (which makes everything level and the dirt doesn't get into the trailer as easily), it is a double space so we have room for our two cars (basically we pay for two sites) and we have a palm tree right out our window where my hammock sits and hibiscus bushes lining the site. The only downside is we are fighting fire ants but they aren't that big of a nuisance.

The first week we also rented a booth at the flea market. It was a dismal failure. We made only $21 the whole weekend and $16 of that came from a large bucket of sunflowers a Mennonite farmer gave us because he got tired of selling them one day. That weekend we learned a TON! 1. we were in the wrong place, 2. we needed more space, 3. it is the "slow" season and lots of people don't make any sales and many don't even open their booths which hurts other venders around them, 4. we should look into diversifying our products 5. there is this awesome flea market in Webster that everyone says we MUST go to (LOL).

So we set out to find a better place. We found one double booth on another aisle close to the traffic and a much better environment. The other vendors open all the time and they stay open all day long. We moved the next week. We cleaned out our booth space, tore out old carpet, painted, put up pegboard, and shopped for other decorations. 

Next to us and across the aisle is a large store (9 booths) of leather jackets and biker stuff. The guys who own/run it are Joe and Joe. Joe Sr, and Joe Jr. They are awesome! They have been so nice to us. They used to have the two booths we have now. They sold us the tarp that fits on the front of the booth (how we secure our stuff inside) for cheap and have let us borrow boards and other things we need. Joe and Joe are from Long Island. Neither Joe Sr, or Joe Jr own a bike or are bikers. LOL

Frank has "the Mancave" across the aisle from us and he is also from New York. He sells collectible toy figurines, action figures, super hero stuff and comic books. He came to me on Saturday and told me he had a box of clothes that doesn't really go with his store and was wondering if I wanted to put them in my shop and we would split the profits on them. I told him to bring them in and I would take a look at them. So Sunday he brings in this HUGE box of clothes. All brand new from Nepal. The best I can describe them are "hippie" clothes. There are men's shirts, woman's skirts, dresses, "I Dream Of Jeanie" pants, and other pants. He told me he thought they were ugly and wouldn't sell but it was worth a try if I was game. I looked at them and immediately decided to hang a few and try them out. I KNEW they would sell well. Joe Jr gave us hangers for it and we hung them up and within a few hours I sold two skirts and three dresses! Frank was shocked! So this week I am moving some of my jewelry over to another place to make more room for the clothes. Later in the afternoon Joe Jr comes over to me and says he has some Christmas ornaments that doesn't really go with his stuff and asks if I want to put them in with my Christmas ornaments (I have a few right now). I teased him and told him he was jealous that I was making money with Frank! LOL We put his ornaments (Hawaiian shirt ornaments) with ours and hopefully they will sell too. I love that our neighbors are trying to help us out.

The kids are doing fine, but I know we are living on borrowed time here. They have been without other kids since we moved. While they get along well I know they crave new friendships and other kids. We are going to check out a baseball team this evening with our son. And tomorrow evening we are trying out a new church. They have services on Wednesdays which will be great for us who work on Sundays. I hope that we will like it so the kids can start participating in youth group and other activities at the church. This church also has a large homeschool community in which I hope to tap.

Our biggest panic has been the lack of income. We have money saved and we knew the first month and getting things settled down here would take a nice chunk and we expected and planned for that. What I didn't plan for was the panic I feel inside every time I spend money at the grocery store, or for the shop etc. None is unexpected, I just didn't realize I would feel this way. We also expected that we would start making money at least in the same amounts that we were making in craft shows but we aren't yet. Last weekend we made $119 for three days. We were bringing in around $250 a day with craft shows. But it is very slow right now and people aren't buying. The crowds will get here in two weeks with "biketober fest" and then the snow birds will come down the first of November. 

The biggest frustration so far has been grocery shopping! OH my! Where is my Kroger????? I will even take a Food Lion! We have a Publix. The prices are so HIGH. Also the layout of the store is frustrating. I can't seem to find anything! You don't start with produce. You start with bakery and frozen foods (Ice cream is first) or if you start from the other side it is dairy products. I personally don't want my milk or my ice cream to be in my cart the whole time I shop. It seems the only other stores to shop in is Target Super store (and I have tried that and the produce seems very old and there is not a good variety of products) Walmart (and this one seems dirty and gross), or Winn Dixie. I am going to give Winn Dixie a try soon.