Sold out!

Joshua “JB” Farrell (right) and I survey the West Lafayette Farmers Market about an hour after opening. (Photo by LaDonna Vohar)

My first day at the West Lafayette Farmers Market was busy, rewarding and exhausting. The short version of the story is, we sold out of bread in about two hours. Luckily we still had some samples and business cards to share with customers who showed up after the hearty loaves were gone. And I walked away with renewed confidence in my baking skills and knowledge of what to do differently next time to become more efficient and make more customers happy.

Selling out is a¬†gratifying but slightly embarrassing thing. I’m sure there were some who wondered why we would show up with not enough product to sell. Truth is, I wasn’t sure we would find as many customers for hearth-style sourdough breads as we did. I’ve been sharing and sometimes selling breads to enthusiastic family and friends for the past several months, but the general public? I had a notion we would sell some bread but hardly expected the enthusiastic response we received. The 32 loaves and 24 “pocketbreads” I brought to market were gone before I had a chance to take a decent picture!

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Fresh pain au levain loaves loaded in the car and ready for market. (Photo by David “Smitty” Smith)

First, I have to thank all my family and friends who helped me the past few weeks get everything ready to go, especially my wife, Kathleen, who has been my constant companion and moral and financial support as I pursue this passion. Also thanks to her son, Josh, for helping set up my first booth and for being a super salesman. To LaDonna, for making graphics, sewing bread basket liners and procuring business cards at the last moment. To Johnny, for logistical support (a Hobart mixer ain’t light!). And to Fergus, Bev, Gretel, Tom, Mary, Dave, TJ, Jennifer, Chris, Brent, Chuck, Richard, Kurt and many others whose appreciation for hearth breads (mine in particular) has kept me going.

See you at next week’s market!

2 thoughts on “Sold out!

  1. Way to go Dave! Can you meet demand with a regular household oven or will you need a big commercial one? And will that bread keep long enough for mail order?

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    1. I don’t have space or wiring for a typical commercial bread oven so I’m struggling with two smaller ovens, a household oven and a 220-V convection oven. At 4 or five loaves per hour, it’s a struggle to come up with enough fresh bread for a farmers’ market. I did the equivalent of 36 loaves in 18 hours this past week. I think with better planning and a different mix of breads I can increase that to 48-52. Most of the sourdoughs, especially multi-grains, have enough shelf life (5-7 days) for a short journey. But for the market, I don’t want to bake more than one day in advance for most breads.

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