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Haleth's avatar

How can I have great sales at this event?

Asked by Haleth (19518points) May 5th, 2010

I work next to an independent bookstore that’s having a reading with a popular children’s author tomorrow. They’re expecting a big crowd (maybe 2000 people) so they will block off our shared parking lot for this event. Restaurants in the neighborhood are invited to set up a table and sell whatever we want. Other than my place (our most popular items are sandwiches, salads, and coffee), there will be the bookstore’s cafe, a pizza restaurant, and a Mexican restaurant.

Today I asked my manager if he has a plan. He says he forgot about it and will be off tomorrow, so I can put together whatever I want. He said that sales were disappointing last year, but we only offered cookies and brownies. I’m the assistant manager. I’m opening the store tomorrow, and the event starts right after my shift ends and goes til about 6pm. So I’m looking at a 12 hour day.

The bookstore cafe will be selling sweets, and then we have tacos and pizza from the other two restaurants. I’m trying to put together a concise, healthy menu of food that can be eaten standing up. I’m also including things that are impulse buys or are very popular sellers. It will be mostly kids and parents, and it will be super hot outside.

Here’s the menu I have so far:
Ham and brie sandwich with dijon mustard 6.75
Caprese sandwich (tomato, basil, mozzarella, and vinaigrette) 6.75
Pita chips 1.49
Kettle chips 1.49
Giant chocolate chip cookie, oatmeal cookie, or white chocolate raspberry cookie 1.99
Apple or banana .98
Iced coffee 2.39
Naked juice berry blast or naked juice orange mango 3.79
Orangina 1.89
Perrier 1.69
Fiji water 1.59
Vitamin water 1.89
Fresh orange juice 2.99
12 oz. tropicana cranberry, grape, or lemonade 1.89

We pre-make the sandwiches in the morning, so that will be easy. I think I have too many different kinds of drinks, but I don’t know what to get rid of. I’m not sure whether I want to include yogurt or ice cream bars- it might be too hot, even with a cooler.

My resources are a table, a chalkboard sandwich sign, an umbrella, and a cooler. One employee will be able to help me if things are slow in the store. This is kind of my project, so I want to do things well and make a ton of money. Any input? Thanks!

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26 Answers

Dr_C's avatar

Considering you will set up in a parking lot and you expect some heat… I would do away with the naked juice, the white chocolate, and yogurt. Everything else looks fine to me.

Jeruba's avatar

Make the mustard optional (packets).
You don’t have a kid-friendly sandwich there. An adult can eat bologna or peanut butter, but will a kid eat brie or basil? Less likely.
Don’t have anything messy.
Eliminate the white chocolate raspberry cookie
Eliminate the Perrier and either all the Tropicana or all the Naked Juice, whichever the kids are less likely to favor.

I’m thinking you want to narrow your inventory (a) so you don’t run out of the popular things too fast and end up stuck with a bunch of flavors that kids don’t like and (b) so decision-making (and answering “what do you have?”) will go faster while people are waiting in line. Adults may buy something for the kid even if they don’t get something for themselves, but they won’t buy for themselves and stiff the kid.

liminal's avatar

You have put some good thought into this!

A hummus based sandwich or veggie based sandwich might be a good idea.
(Maybe a hummus cup to go with the chips?)

I would get rid of the yogurt too.
Juice boxes are always a hit.
Carrot sticks (could use that hummus cup again)

Maybe a cold noodle based salad. (like sesame noodles without the peanut, you know kids and their allergies these days. You could use tahini or almond butter instead.)

I agree with looking for a kid based item, still use the ham but familiar cheese like cheddar.

Cruiser's avatar

Do old fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches the kids will love them! Pickles and chips and a Hi-C punch lunch special should go over big time! Promote it with a big grilled cheese sandwich board and balloons!

Jeruba's avatar

Sandwiches: tuna fish, egg salad.

Somebody will want ordinary potato chips.

Nothing that requires forks or spoons.

Haleth's avatar

@Jeruba Great point! I was just thinking about our most popular sandwiches, but it’s definitely going to be a different crowd. We have a turkey sandwich that’s pretty kid-friendly.

@liminal Sigh… your ideas are all great, but I’m kind of limited by what we have in the store right now. I didn’t want to make my wall of text even bigger, but we don’t actually do the food prep in the store. Our corporate office decides what foods we have, I place an order every day, and then they make them first thing in the morning in one central kitchen and bring them to all the stores. So I can choose from the sandwiches on our menu, which are all pretty… sophisticated. We do have pasta salad and things like that.

Basically imagine lots of normal food… and then make it fancier, organic, fair trade, or seasonal… and that’s what we’ve got. Fortunately, we’re in a part of town where people are into stuff like that (sophisticated, health-conscious parents), but it looks like I’ll have to work on making it more accessible.

Jeruba's avatar

The age of the kids makes a difference, too. Eleven-year-olds might have developed more sophisticated tastes, but five-year-olds probably have not.

liminal's avatar

Ah, gotcha.

Maybe some sort of wrap (meat and non-meat)?
Organic juice boxes would go over well.
I think the naked juice is a good idea.
I wouldn’t shy away from a simple pasta salad, kids love them. The summers around here are filled with neighborhood festivals and dishes that require a fork are managed well by adults and kids alike.

edit: If they do organic and local they probably make a stellar fruit cup!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Can you call the central kitchen and get a kid oriented selection of sandwiches that they don’t normally do?

If they do this again next year, keep it in mind and ask the corporate office if they can cater to the expected crowd on that day. You probably will have to give them a couple months notice to think it over and approve it or not.

Tomfafa's avatar

I can’t help giving advice, here goes…
Stop with the 1.89 or 2.39!!! Just make it TWO BUCKS or THREE BUCKS or WHATEVER…
Just reading those prices made my head spin.
Go for IMPULSE items… cold drinks in the cooler floating in ice water…
Aim for the kids! Ham and Brie? oy! Make peanut butter and banana on white, cut in half, side by side, wrapped in clear wrap… display style. How about peanut butter and chocolate, mmmm.
How about nutela and chocolate… cream cheese and strawberries… keep it SIMPLE!! Make everything as colorful as possible… pack three cookies baked with m+m“s three in a plastic baggie for two bucks… (don’t worry about the price) Good Luck.

skfinkel's avatar

Good—lots of drinks for the super hot day!

That’s what I would emphasize, if you can’t do ice cream.

Also I like @Tomfafa answers on simplicity and aiming for kids.

Jeruba's avatar

I like @Tomfafa‘s suggestion about the prices. Can you work it so it comes out even with tax (if tax applies) just for simplicity?

I suggested no forks or spoons because those foods are two-handed things (can’t hang onto the kids at the same time; hard to handle while walking, with no table or other surface, especially if also managing drinks) and they are things that can spill. Messy and frustrating. But my experience may not speak for others’.

susanc's avatar

No mayo on a hot day. Strike the mayo. I wish we could all meet there. It sounds great.

Jeruba's avatar

She’s right about the mayo.

Haleth's avatar

I totally agree about the prices. The ones I have listed are our regular retail prices, but it wouldn’t be hard to round up or down. It would have been easier (for me) to make the prices accurate, but I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of sales.

I just googled the author, and the new book sounds like so much fun. I really can’t wait. I think the audience is kids who are around 8–10.

The menu’s still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve got. I still haven’t worked out the sandwiches yet.

(Adult friendly sandwich) $7.00
(Kid friendly sandwich) 4.00
Pita chips 1.50
Potato chips 1.50
Giant chocolate chip cookie or giant oatmeal cookie 2.00
Apple or banana 1.00
Iced coffee 2.00
Naked juice berry blast or Naked juice orange mango 3.50
Orangina 2.00
Perrier 1.75
Fiji water 1.50
Fresh orange juice 3.00

Better? I feel like there are still too many drink choices, but I’m not sure which one to cut. For a kid friendly sandwich, I’ll probably do PB &J or turkey and cheddar. For the parents, I’ll choose between the ham and brie or the caprese, because I ordered them this afternoon.

I feel like I’m having a grown-up lemonade stand…

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, much better. Sounds great! I think you could lose the Perrier and no one would miss it as long as you have the Fiji. You also have three orange drinks and would probably be fine with just one of them.

I hope you have fun! (Don’t forget the napkins.)

Can you also sell wet-wipes—or give away one packet free with each purchase?

susanc's avatar

Totally agree with @Jeruba on wet wipes and one kind of orange drink being enough. Make it a little easier for you!! And I still wish we could all be there.

YARNLADY's avatar

I always buy fruit at those things, and small bags or stems of grapes would be welcome.

Jeruba's avatar

Do be sure to come back and tell us how it went!

jazmina88's avatar

I would love a caprese sandwich please.

Have fun. You do an awesome job!!!

Haleth's avatar

Quick update:
Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but by the time I left today we had already doubled last year’s sales! We ended up having a very busy lunch hour and running out of sandwiches by around 4pm. So at the event I ended up selling chips, cookies, apples, bananas, bottled water, iced coffee, and bottled juice. Cookies, juice, and bottled water were very popular! I learned from it and plan on making notes for us to use next year. Thanks to everyone for your great suggestions.

YARNLADY's avatar

thank you so much for the update – I love it when I can see how we helped, and learn something new

Tomfafa's avatar

@Haleth There is an old jewish saying… (I’ll paraphrase) when it comes to food and matters of the belly… nothing goes as planned. It’s a controlled fall. They’ll never teach THAT in school.

Val123's avatar

You can always get a cooler to keep mayo, etc. cool in.

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