Sunday evening I set up a table at the New Raman Reti Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua, which has a regular Sunday Feast attendance of a few hundred regulars.
I never set up a table before. At Gita Nagari, Sudevi happily set up a table for my jam alongside some baked goods she was selling at a festival. I was going to set up at the Gita Nagari Ratha Yatra, but could not really afford the fees. Despite the fact that we are not completely unpacked and settled in, I headed over to the temple office on Wednesday to fill out a vendor application. The application fee was only $12 ($40/month) so there really was nothing to lose.
When I began unpacking my wares, one woman sweetly warned me not to be discouraged if sales were slow. She said that they often were during the summer months when the heat and bugs are in full force. Although I wanted to sell some jam, I was really in it for the experience of setting up and talking face to face with customers.
Online sales are one thing–face to face customer contact another. With my online orders, some people just email me their order and I ship out their jam while some choose to email me directly with a little backstory as to how they found my site. I find both perfectly acceptable but am really delighted to have the personal exchanges with customers. But of course, there is a limit to how personal it can get since it is, after all, email.
The table set up was interesting because I had the opportunity of telling people first hand about my jam. I was there, looking them in the eye, justifying the $8 price tag (more on that later). And it was a pretty deep realization. I know it is a little kooky to be passionate about jam…but no more than the fellow I spoke with who makes his own soap and is passionate about that (did you know that all the organic coconut oil used in Dr. Bronner’s and other fancy brands is rotten and then processed with harsh chemicals? Scary. Did you know that your skin, the largest organ on your body, absorbs 60% of what you put on it? Scarier!!!).
The idea of sales kind of bothers me. But I felt more like I was sharing info about some really good stuff that I know about (and happen to make!). I was looking these people–potential customers–in the eye and telling them about my jam…knowing that I will see them again next week when I set up at the feast. And I felt great about it. Because, honestly speaking, I know my jam rocks. I am totally confident that my jam kicks any store bought jam’s butt. That is, if jam had a butt.
I did better than expected with sales. There was no rhyme or reason to what people purchased. Some bought $10 jars of Saffron Cardamom Peach Sauce, some bough Lite Rose Petal Syrup, jam or pickle. But even the people who were just looking were encouraging. A lot of Hare Krishnas in the Alachua area own their own businesses or have business experience under their belt. A man who owns an organic farm spoke to my husband about helping me with distribution. Another gentleman who owns an Ayurvedic health spa and yoga studio offered to carry my jams. And my new best friend, Dhananjaya, spoke to me extensively about sourcing wholesale ingredients as well as his connections throughout the state of Florida for health food store distribution.
Sunday morning I was feeling pretty despondent about the jam thing. Money is low at the Mirel Homestead. Saturday nite I was up late researching business loans and grants–all a total waste of time, of course. I thought I would have to quickly disabuse myself of my jam fantasy (ok, I’m a demented sicko, but yes, all my fantasies in life revolve around jam) because how was this really going to work out? But after the Sunday program, I was feeling like jam may in fact be my future. Now I am just waiting for an “Angel Benefactor” to enter my life. I came across that term while reading an article about funding a small business. It did not give a definition of what an Angel Benefactor is, but I am assuming it is someone who anonymously deposits a poop load of money in your bank account, no strings attached.
So if you are that Angel Benefactor, my account is with Bank of America.