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Disappointing Tour of Farmer Markets

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cmzaha

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My hubby and I did a tour of Farmer Markets yesterday in upper income areas. What a disappointment when I visited the soapmaker booths. I am sorry to say I did not see one with quality made soaps, which of course is subjective. All we found were selections of a dozen soaps at the most, unlabeled "Natural Deodorant", unwrapped soaps, no weights etc etc and we wonder why people buy from Whole Foods and the like. LOL, I was a good girl and said nothing other than asking one girl that was trying to get me to try her deodorant what the ingredients are. She sells in a very upper class high rent district. Answer was, it is only 4 ingredients, okay so I asked what 4 ingredients since I have severe allergies. Final answer was coconut oil, baking soda, beeswax and fo or eo. Well baking soda causes me a severe rash in deodorant. I was just so very disappointed what I saw for soap vendors. Then you get to the false advertising, healing eczema, psoriasis, fungus yada yada. Very frustrating
 

TwystedPryncess

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The local Farmer's Market here, had no one set up at all, when we went to look at it. It's supposed to be open 6 days a week and we live in farm country--I grew up on a farm!

So I was to say in the least, also sadly disappointed, because I was wanting to see what other people were doing around here as well.

Clearly I couldn't even come home with a fresh bag of okra or green tomatoes to fry up though! :sad:
 

lenarenee

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Had you been to those markets before Carolyn? I'm curious as to whether there used to be great soapmakers selling in the past, and if so, what happened to them? Did making your own soap become so common that many average people make their own - causing professional to go out of business? Were there too many
casual soapers (as in - hey...if I toss this lye into this oil it makes this lumpy thing that I can sell and get rich from!) that made a bad name for homemade soap?
 

girlishcharm2004

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At my Whole Foods and local grocery store, there are unwrapped and unlabeled soap bars for sale. There was another store that one would just slice off a piece of soap (unwrapped) and pay by the weight. If it's so illegal, I'm surprised that some government agency hasn't pounced on such big companies by now.

However, I'm surprised you were disappointed by your competition. Wouldn't that mean that you have the upper hand? I would be elated. In fact, the farmer's market I joined had another long-time soap maker. After my first day (which I was put in a low traffic area because I was new), the management switched our places. I don't think the other soap maker was happy with that...
 

cmzaha

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At my Whole Foods and local grocery store, there are unwrapped and unlabeled soap bars for sale. There was another store that one would just slice off a piece of soap (unwrapped) and pay by the weight. If it's so illegal, I'm surprised that some government agency hasn't pounced on such big companies by now.

However, I'm surprised you were disappointed by your competition. Wouldn't that mean that you have the upper hand? I would be elated. In fact, the farmer's market I joined had another long-time soap maker. After my first day (which I was put in a low traffic area because I was new), the management switched our places. I don't think the other soap maker was happy with that...
To clarify it is not illegal to sell unwrapped unlabeled Soap, as long as it is for cleaning only. Moisturizing, skin softening etc, puts it as a cosmetics which needs to be labeled as such. Curing eczema, fungus etc puts it as a drug and has to follow FDA Drug law, which the average small business cannot afford. It does not elate me to see bad or at the least less than quality soap being sold because it hurts all of us soapmakers. I have had people come to my booth and state they would never again buy handmade soap, because they had such a bad experience and handmade soap is not cheap.
Yes Lenarenne I have visited these markets in the past and I see a big difference with the newbie soapmakers whom think they can make a lot of money. What has happened to the others I do not know, but think maybe they have given up or just quit the weekly markets. I have been looking for a new market and cannot find one without a new very small soapmaker and it really is not fair for me to go in on them.
 

snappyllama

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Now that I make soap, I notice this all the time at craft fairs... sellers making wild claims, not providing proper labels for B&B, selling HP they obviously made the week before, "all-natural" M&P with FOs in it, and vegan soap with honey in it. It drives me bonkers! If I had bought from those sellers and didn't know any better, I'd assume that *all* handmade soap sucked and never buy it again. I agree that it is a disservice to the entire industry.

The other thing I've noticed is that some booths are selling suspiciously uniform, mass-produced looking soaps - often those booths have sellers that don't seem to know anything about their own soaps other than what scents they have. I'm guessing reselling is profitable??

Those bad apples are at least half of what I've seen for sale at markets in Colorado.
 

navigator9

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Sadly, with the economy in the state it is, I think a lot of good soapmakers have found it hard to stay in business, and there may have been an abundance of "get rich quick" soapers jumping in to fill the void. Anyone who does markets and craft fairs is not getting rich. For the amount of work we do, and time we put into our craft, we don't make nearly enough. It's really a labor of love, and the ones who last are the ones who love it too much to quit. Hopefully, attrition will weed out the "in it for the money" soapers. Ha! Who am I kidding? All we can do is make the best soap we can and hope that consumers pay attention.
 

cmzaha

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However, I'm surprised you were disappointed by your competition. Wouldn't that mean that you have the upper hand? I would be elated. In fact, the farmer's market I joined had another long-time soap maker. After my first day (which I was put in a low traffic area because I was new), the management switched our places. I don't think the other soap maker was happy with that...

I am not trying to sound harsh and I understand your side but if that long time soapmaker has been in the market for several yrs it was a completely poor move for the management to switch places. Sorry, that I would not agree with and definitely would not be happy. Although you feel it is a complement, keep in mind it may be you next and she will keep her customers. Maybe they have issues with her and maybe they are just poor managers hard to tell. The manager of my main market takes very good care of me and in turn I do all their slow venues to support them. I actually do a Wed morning venue that I know I will be lucky to sell 1 bar of soap and it is a lot of work since I set up 9 tables.
 
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Obsidian

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Around my area, soaps rarely have labels or even scent names on them unless they are being sold by some of the bigger soap makers in local stores but those soaps are never at markets. For years, I never even considered labels as a option on market soaps.
I am happy to say I've never seen anyone making medical claims. The closest I've seen is the insect repellent soap that was citronella scented.
 

cmzaha

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Around my area, soaps rarely have labels or even scent names on them unless they are being sold by some of the bigger soap makers in local stores but those soaps are never at markets. For years, I never even considered labels as a option on market soaps.
I am happy to say I've never seen anyone making medical claims. The closest I've seen is the insect repellent soap that was citronella scented.
You are fortunate where you live. Medical claims are rampant here. My customers tell me they would not consider purchasing an un-wrapped soap and certainly one that is not labeled. I would guess 95% of the people that come to my booth read the lables
 

shunt2011

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I too see claims on other vendors displays. I quit doing a market because I had been doing it for 3 years and last year when I got there the market manager had brought in 3 new soapers and put them up front where I had been. When asked why she said I had a lot of regular customers and that she wanted to give the new people the opportunity to make some money. So, I didn't go back.

This past fall I had a couple of the other board members ask what happened to me and when I told them, they asked me to please come back this year and they would see to it I was treated properly. So, the market starts on June 19th and we will see what happens.
 

cmzaha

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I too see claims on other vendors displays. I quit doing a market because I had been doing it for 3 years and last year when I got there the market manager had brought in 3 new soapers and put them up front where I had been. When asked why she said I had a lot of regular customers and that she wanted to give the new people the opportunity to make some money. So, I didn't go back.

This past fall I had a couple of the other board members ask what happened to me and when I told them, they asked me to please come back this year and they would see to it I was treated properly. So, the market starts on June 19th and we will see what happens.
That is lousy Shari, talking about not taking care of their loyal vendor. I understand having to fill space, but bringing in 3 new soapmakers is excessive and to put them in your area is just plain insulting. I would leave too and seriously think about going back. Good luck to you if you go back. You know you will outlast them but it does cost some business. Here it is hard to leave a market simply because markets are hard to get into.
 

girlishcharm2004

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I am not trying to sound harsh and I understand your side but if that long time soapmaker has been in the market for several yrs it was a completely poor move for the management to switch places. Sorry, that I would not agree with and definitely would not be happy. Although you feel it is a complement, keep in mind it may be you next and she will keep her customers. Maybe they have issues with her and maybe they are just poor managers hard to tell. The manager of my main market takes very good care of me and in turn I do all their slow venues to support them. I actually do a Wed morning venue that I know I will be lucky to sell 1 bar of soap and it is a lot of work since I set up 9 tables.
In my defense, the other soap maker and I both signed the rule sheet saying that we understand that booth location in based on presentation.

To clarify it is not illegal to sell unwrapped unlabeled Soap, as long as it is for cleaning only. Moisturizing, skin softening etc, puts it as a cosmetics which needs to be labeled as such. Curing eczema, fungus etc puts it as a drug and has to follow FDA Drug law, which the average small business cannot afford. It does not elate me to see bad or at the least less than quality soap being sold because it hurts all of us soapmakers. I have had people come to my booth and state they would never again buy handmade soap, because they had such a bad experience and handmade soap is not cheap.
Yes, I do understand the laws. You said,
All we found were selections of a dozen soaps at the most, unlabeled "Natural Deodorant", unwrapped soaps, no weights etc etc
which sounded like you perceived "unwrapped soaps, no weights etc etc" to be wrong since it was in the same sentence as "unlabeled 'natural deodorant.'" Please, forgive me.

Side note: I've had people come into my booth and tell their friends that they would never buy soap because they made it before and it was terrible. You can't win them all. Sometimes they shoot themselves in the foot and not another soap maker.
 
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cmzaha

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The hubby and I went out to a yearly craft fair that was advertised to have 300 vendors. There were a lot of vendors, cost was $300-350 for 2 days, which is why I did not even consider attending as a vendor. Was really glad I made the right choice, there were approx 10 soapmakers and none I talked with had made their booth space. Wish these organizers would get it right and not let so many in. I really felt sorry for them and several looked like they had just given up today. I understand filling up space, but the organizers need to have some compassion for the sellers and have limits
 

Dorymae

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Just a reminder. If someone comes to your booth to tell you about their bad experience with hand made soap then they are pretty much begging you to give them a reason to try it again.

Think about it, do you stop in at a Chevy dealer to tell them how much you dislike the Chevy you bought 10 years ago and that you now buy Ford? Or do you stop at a farm stand and tell them how you bought fresh produce before but it had worms in it? If you did, you probably would tell them hoping they would show you how their produce was better so you could buy with confidence.

When people do this I look at it as an opportunity, not a horrible thing where the handcrafted soap market has lost a customer forever.

Why do you think they even bothered to stop at your booth?
 

kdaniels8811

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Maybe I am just lucky but I do four farmers markets along with arts and craft shows and I do well .... my products sell well (CP soaps, lotions, balms and scrubs and Laundry butter!) and I have many repeat customers that come to purchase from me. I LOVE it when a customer loudly exclaims "I love your .... and need more!" I always tell folks I did not pay them to say that - LOL!

I am sorry some of you are having a bad time. I smile and talk enthusiastically about my products and I believe my soap recipe is superior, as is my laundry products and facial lotions. I wish you all the best of luck and increased sales. I find a smile and enthusiasm makes a great impression.
 

cmzaha

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I am not having trouble KDaneils since I have been settled in a market for almost 6 yrs now doing quite well, when newbies come in it does not affect me but it does effect them and our market for most crafters is $65 per space. That is hard to make especially when they try to undercut my prices. It is just the fact that the promoters, managers, market owners are letting in to many in one market and it is just not fair to the soapmakers. Ten soapmakers in one market is way to many and you could see by the attitudes of some of them that they had given up. :-(
 
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