Onsite Bake Sale Tips

Attracting Attention

  • A large colorful banner may help attract people to the table.
  • Presentation counts. Attractive serving trays and artfully arranged items may help maintain customers’ interest and generate sales. You can spruce up an ordinary platter by covering it with a fancy (but inexpensive) doily.
  • Allow for an hour or more for setting up, and an hour for putting everything away and cleaning up after the bake sale.
  • Check your set-up location with a representative of the location to make sure it’s a good one.
  • Label foods clearly. A time-saving tip is to make labels in advance.
  • Placing signs in the vicinity may help direct people to the bake sale. Check with your hosts and/or local officials to make sure they are okay with you putting signs in the ground or on structures. An alternative is to have volunteers hold up signs. Simple signs with big letters (e.g., “Bake Sale” with an arrow pointing to the event) often work best.
  • If allowed, you can write “This way to the bake sale” and other directions in chalk on the nearby sidewalks. (Contributed by Dayna R)
  • Some participants package their baked goods with colorful ribbons.
  • Have a plate of samples for people to try.

General Tips

  • Try a bag of treats. From Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of best-selling cookbooks Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and founder of the Post Punk Kitchen. If you have lots of small cookies, place as many as will fit comfortably into bags, package them cutely, and sell the bags of cookies for, say, $10. You could sell different sizes of “cookie bags” for different prices. Liberation BC has a similar technique, in which customers can fill up a bag with any baked goods they like for a set price.
  • Prepare for wind if event is outside. What might blow away or fall down? Secure items such as structures, signs, and that lightweight items such as napkins and fliers.
  • Bring plenty of change. To make things easier, have all your prices end in .00 (or maybe .50). Also, you may want to, for example, sell plates of three small cookies for a dollar (or equivalent unit in your local currency) rather than sell each cookie individually.
  • Mark down prices if you have unsold inventory and there’s only a half hour left.
  • Bring forms and pens so people can sign up to join your group or the next bake sale?
  • Bring office supplies. Tape, scissors, rubber bands, construction paper, and magic markers come in handy in many ways.
  • Bring “to-go” boxes in which to put merchandise that you sell to customers. This is one way to keep things like frosting from getting smashed. Shop around and look online; prices vary. You may save money if you buy in bulk.
  • Bring handouts. For customers who exclaim, “Wow, this doesn’t have eggs?” have a stack of our Baking Without Eggs fliers on the table.

Keeping Things Clean

  • It’s good form to wear latex gloves and/or use tongs. Some health codes may require this.
  • Periodically wipe the table. Crumbs and other stuff may accumulate over time.
  • Bring a container of cruelty-free hand sanitizer.
  • Have napkins handy for customers.
  • If you have enough personnel, have different people to handle money vs. the food.
  • If you have postcard sized literature, consider using handouts as plates if makes sense.

Going the Extra Mile

  • Place a donation jar on the table. Both purchasers and non-purchasers of baked goods may want to donate money to help the cause.
  • Consider giving away a prize to one or more lucky customers, through a raffle or similar system. A vegan cookbook signed by the author makes a nice prize, but the possibilities are endless. You’ll need to get entrants’ contact info (email or phone number), and decide how to convey the prize to the winner.
  • If there’s no seating in the vicinity, and you’ve got the space, bring a few chairs so customers who want to eat right away can sit down.
  • Ask visitors to your bake sale how they found out about the event. This may help your marketing in the future.
  • If possible, spare one or two people to answer questions about eggs, dairy, vegan food, and related topics that frequently come up during vegan bake sales.
  • You can print labels with your group name, logo, and/or web site, and add something like “cruelty-free,” and put them on the wrappers and/or take-away boxes for your baked goods.
  • Attach recipes to the items you’re selling. For example, print the recipe on a piece of paper, punch a hole in the paper, and use a string or ribbon to attach the paper to the wrapping for the baked good. You can even print other things on the paper, such as quick facts about veganism and handy vegan baking web sites (including this one). (Thanks to the Vegan Society of Aotearoa, New Zealand for this tip.)
  • Bring some paper bags, perhaps small and medium size. Customers who buy lots of items or who already have their hands full will appreciate that. Other customers may also request a bag. Bonus: You can put your group’s business card, or a flier of area veg-friendly restaurants, or another type of freebie in the bag.
  • Hopefully, this goes without saying, but…customer service and politeness make a huge difference, especially since we are representing veganism and our charity. Smile and say “thank you.” If you make a mistake, offer a sincere apology, and maybe throw in some free merchandise to help set things right.
  • Offer bottled water, non-dairy milk, or some other refreshing beverage.

Taking Photos or Videos

  • Take pictures of the action: people surveying the food; customers biting into cupcakes; volunteers serving slices of pie; crowds at the table; conversations off to the side. Give viewers of a sense of the excitement and community at the bake sale. You can ask people if they mind if their picture is taken, and let them know where they can find your online photo album.
  • Try to get some close-ups of ornately decorated, colorful, interestingly shaped, or intricately constructed items.
  • Get at least one shot of the table right at the start of the bake sale, when everything is set up beautifully.
  • By taking pictures throughout the bake sale, you’ll get a good variety of people and times of day (if outdoors) in your photo collection.
  • If possible, get a group photo of everyone helping out. This can be helpful in pitching future events and give you a nice keepsake.
  • A video record of the bake sale can include pre- and and post-bake sale interviews, as well as interviews with tablers and customers during the event.

After the Bake Sale

  • Be gracious, appreciative guests. Leave the place spic and span and you’ll get invited back.
  • If you have leftovers (and maybe even if you don’t), maybe make a goodie bag for employees of the place where you’re holding the bake sale. If you’re at an event with other exhibitors, consider offering food to the staff at neighboring tables.
  • Don’t forget to thank people: your hosts, volunteers, and bakers.