Five weeks into my new business and the phone is ringing off the hook!
Not really. It’s been slow going so far, but I’m looking at this as a time to get my name out there. I’m making gluten-free baked goods – pies, cakes and cookies – and I drive through the mean streets of Los Angeles in my hybrid to get them to you, which means I deliver.
I had a couple of orders on Thanksgiving and it went really well. Last week, I set up a booth at a local merchant market in the parking lot of a grocery store and sold enough that I actually broke even. Sweet!
There was another one on Saturday, but I wasn’t going to do it. Saturday is hard because the kids are home and I had signed up to do a 10k in Venice. I also had dinner plans on Friday with friends, no kids. When does that ever happen? And, according to the weather report, a winter storm was approaching and it was supposed to rain Saturday.
“I’m out,” I told my sister. “I want to do the 10k and it’s going to rain. Running in the rain is okay, selling baked goods when it’s raining seems futile.”
“What!?” she yelled. She said I couldn’t let a little thing like rain hold me back from taking an opportunity to sell cookies. There was more loud-talking that I tuned out. She did have a point; if I’m going to do this, I need to just do it, rain or shine.
So after a night out with champagne, a flight of wine, and fantastic food (Upstairs 2, try it!) where I stayed up until 1:30, I stumbled out of bed at 4:30 to start baking. Ugghh. I’m not a morning person and anytime before 6 am is brutal for me. I powered through and made 6 banana loaves, six dozen chocolate chip and frosted Christmas cookies, 20 individually wrapped brownies, and, the most time-consuming and expensive, a Christmas Tree cake and cupcakes.
I was running late so my husband offered to pick up and set up a canopy I was borrowing from a friend. When I went to frost the cake, something occurred to me that really should have hours before; I didn’t have anything to put it in. The boxes I had were too small for the oversized cake. I ran from room to room looking for a box. Finally, I cut out a Christmas Tree shape from cardboard, covered it in foil and frosted the cake. I took apart a pie box and taped it back together to be the right size. I went to put plastic wrap around the box, but the wrap kept sticking together. My husband called, he was already there with our two boys. “I can’t get the plastic around the box!” I shouted into the phone. He mumbled okay and said I needed to hurry.
I used half the box of wrap to cover the cake and raced to the market. Once I got there I realized there was no rush. It was drizzling and cold outside, and there were just a few vendors. After a couple of hours I remembered what I’d told my sister; LA shuts down when it rains. It was so slow. Not only were few people stopping to look at what the merchants were selling, few people were going into a grocery store on a Saturday.
Soon, the sun was shining, but the wind picked up. I joked with the woman who I let share the canopy with me that it would the icing on the cake of my day for the whole thing to blow away. Minutes later, we were holding the canopy down so that very thing wouldn’t happen. The wind was so bad the nice couple next to me packed up their jewelry and headed home. I didn’t want to go home until I sold as much as I could. Fresh baked goods are only fresh for a short time.
I refused to give up. I took down the canopy and now there were only a few of us left. I sat huddled over my table making a human umbrella over my perishable good. Cars started parking around the last couple of holdouts and a woman yelled at me that I wasn’t allowed to solicit in front of the grocery store.
Humiliated and frozen to the bone, at four and a half hours I decided it was time to call it a day. But wait, there was a rush (relatively speaking) at the end and I ended up selling almost everything. Except of course for the cake.
When my husband came back to help me pack up, my son said he was so happy that I saved the beautiful Christmas tree cake for him. Well, that’s something.
My hopes to make a killing (or sell at least half of my stuff) were all on the Wednesday market now. It was the last one for December.
The day started and ended in pouring rain. The cold was so numbing that at one point I had trouble giving change.
I thought it couldn’t get worse and then, as I was closing up, Elliott Gould walks up. He asked me what I had and inquired about the cost. Then he tried something and said “Is it okay if I don’t?” Ouch. No, Elliott Gould, it’s not okay.