Saturday, November 13, 2010

Checking-out the Competition Part 2

Zingerman's Next Door, pastry case
Today, we moved another step closer to a decision about a small family business.  See Thursday's post from Part 1 here

First up was a lecture on hybrid fusion-fission energy supplies for the year 2050 at the University of Michigan.  The best part of the lecture is the bagels and donuts.

Cake donuts from Washtenaw Dairy, courtesy of Saturday Morning Physics
Then a short hop to the Saturday Farmer's Market.  I particularly wanted to speak to the Market Manager and sample some baked goods from local sellers/bakers.

There are several stalls that always seem to be there plus some that come and go.  Grandma's is always there.  I was under the impression that she was from Kalamazoo or someplace in Michigan, a little ways from Ann Arbor but her commercial bakery is located in Delta Ohio.
Grandma of Grandma's Kitchen
Jake picked out Gingersnaps - 6 large cookies for $5.  Flour, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, molasses, ginger, cloves, slat, soda, cinnamon, margerine.  Commercial baking space, nothing organic.

Maite Zubia of Maitelates bakes traditional South American chocolate dipped cookies.  I've always walked by her stall reading the boards but wondered about the actual product as the cookies are packaged like little bars of soap.  See webpage here

Alfajores Maitelates - Argentinian chocolate dipped cookies

Maite was standing near her stall today and said she uses a commercial kitchen in somebody's basement.  She sells her cookies at the Farmer's Market, Zingerman's and through her webstore.  Jake picked out a Strawberry cookie for $2.  The chocolate coating is Callebaut but none of the ingredients are labelled organic.

There's another bakery table that is always there, right at one of the main market intersections near the Office.  She sells pie-type goodies. 

We talked this morning and she's been selling at the Market for 30 years.  She said that selling retail was too expensive.  She has a commercial kitchen in a retail strip mall and sells lots of pies during the holidays.  Jake picked out a Cherry Pie Bite for $1.
This baker only listed the name of the product on the label and the ingredients were taped to the table.  If you zoom close in, you'll see that the baked goods contain corn sweetener and some preservatives.

The Market Manager, Molly Notarianni,  was in and we chatted for a bit. 

The exclusion that I had heard about earlier this week is known as the Cottage Food Law of 2010, which allows individuals to manufacture and store certain type of foods in an unlicensed home kitchen.  There are some caveats and provisos.  I can bake and sell DIRECTLY to consumers, up to a maximum gross annual sales of $15,000.  I cannot sell to a store or through the internet. This exclusion only gets me out of using or licensing a commercial kitchen, I still need to follow packaging rules, setting up a business name, and state and federal tax rules.  Not having to use a commercial licensed kitchen while I figure things out in the beginning is a huge deal.

Molly said that there was stall space available over the winter but applications are strictly reviewed, details are important.  The idea, I suppose, is to make sure that there is an adequate mix of products for sale.  Space in the Spring and Summer are booked.  There were lots of stalls with table decorations today.

So....I"ll need to double check my homeowners association bylaws, double check business licensing requirements, and state/federal tax rules.  And then apply for a Saturday Farmer's Market stall for a Saturday near Christmas and see how my oatmeal bars are received.   

After looking at the Farmer's Market today plus Zingerman's, Sweatwaters and the locations last Thursday, there aren't oatmeal bars like mine for sale.  And nobody seems to sell a mostly organic product.

Onward and upwards.


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