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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So ... I just checked out the candy canes at Walmart because that's the closest thing comparable to the hard candy I want to make, and I realized how cheap they're pushing it. I also realize these companies have machines that are running 24/7 and are making thousands of them in a batch.

I'll be making hand-pulled hard candy, by the 20 lb (or close to it) batch. And I'll be making hand-made chocolates. And if I'm thinking correctly, this also means my product will be more of a "premium" product than the big companies ... And I'm not even technically gonna be competing with them because it's an entirely different niche in the market? Correct me if I'm wrong, please!!

Should I be discouraged by the Walmart prices?
 

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Know your customers and find your market. You are not going to be able to compete with W*mart on price or volume. If everyone in your town shops there, find a place where people will pay $6 (or whatever) for your product. Don't be discouraged, but you are going to have to work to find that niche, and pretty fast because holiday shopping has already begun.
 

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When I've sold handmade stuff I emphasize that it isn't mass produced. Like Contrary said, know your customers. Many people wince when they hear mass-produced and go out of their way to avoid that. Coincidentally, those people often have enough discretionary income to choose to buy by quality, not price. And do find out if there's something like Facebook Marketplace or NextDoor in your area, or how local people buy and sell. Many people also like to buy local if they can these days. Rather than being "not Walmart" stress what you offer that's unique, special and can't be bought en masse. Also, don't try to meet Walmart's price point. Price for your quality ingredients and your crafting time, which signals to people you're selling an exclusive product. Hope that helps. Walmart has its place when price is the only consideration, but there's a lot more going with shopping, particularly for gifts or holiday items. Best of luck with your business! Be sure to post a link on here when you sell; if I can fit it in the budget, I'd love to send my friend a little bit of really high quality candy!
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you, both! I was kind of thinking along the same lines, but had to be sure. It almost sounds a little weird I might have a new business soon, but it'll be making candy the way it was done 100+ yrs ago and without machines 🤣 Just labeling the products as "handmade in small batches" should help it sell. Also, I hope to have a website to put on the label. And I'm in a good position to get it placed on some store shelves ... My boss (in a local, family owned grocery store chain) is THE person to talk to about placing products, AND it's the company's biggest store ... Thinking about giving them a good deal to help them make money on it, so they can help me get the name out at the same time.

Will definitely announce it on here when things are actually happening! I just spoke with a friend that owns a different business, and it looks like he's on-board to help me with a start-up loan (and a small royalty) ... He liked everything I showed him from all my notes. And the building for his business is big enough where he's not using a few rooms. He's considering converting one of them into a commercial kitchen for me ... It's the perfect amount of space, has its own outside door and can be closed/walled off from his business to make it separate, and then I can worry about paying his loan back instead of keeping up with a building lease!
 

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seems like your products would be perfect for craft fairs, esp. with the holidays coming up. I used to sell quilts at craft fairs, people selling edible products always did well! Especially now that most craft fairs are clogged up with MLM crap. People will like to see real handmade products. I'm not sure "on the shelves in a big store" is going to be the place to sell them. Buyers like to meet and interact with the maker, and learn why your candy is special. Bonus points if you have a video showing how you make the products, maybe on a laptop.

Also, start small. Before you get a loan and buy equipment, have a business plan. How many people live in your area? Average income? How many would be willing to buy your products, and how often? How many would they buy? So many small businesses fail because they don't have a plan. "Oh, your cookies are so good, you should open a bakery" is not a plan. Look at how many restaurants start up and fail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thank you! Part of the reason I'm doing it like this is and am excited for it is because it's kind of small by default. The loan is only about twice as much as my car is worth, and equipment is only 2/3 of that ... Estimated guess is around $30,000 ... And the margins are good enough with batches that size, where I can play with the prices if I have to, but I'm doing everything I can to build value into the products and compete with quality!

I love the trade show idea!

Edit: Cutting expenses is also just as important for a growing business as having the right tools ... A lease could have been $600+ per month, and I'm not taking a check from it until it's profiting and paid off, I'm keeping my regular job. The store idea, I'm in love with, because they might help me make it popular by showing everyone in town a locally hand-made product they'll love, and I don't even care if I get pointed out as the person that is doing it. I'll probably have to make some major changes to my Facebook account, though, for public image, lol. Not that I have anything to hide, I just know how it can be. My account is kind of a "meme factory" 🤣 but privacy is restricted so only friends can see it and a search couldn't find it
 

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If you're on FB try setting up a business account. You're right about wanting to keep your personal stuff separate and build a brand image. Get that social media going before your product is out, use it to build anticipation.
 
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Be sure you understand your tax obligations, too, income taxes, Social Security for self employment, state and local taxes, and any sales tax you will be responsible for collecting and remitting. Also be sure you're in compliance with any regulations regarding production of edible products. You should consider liability insurance, too. It's the kind of stuff nobody likes to think about, and it trips up a lot of people who fail to research and plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If I do decide to try starting small, because I'm not 100% sure I can count on my friend yet. What's possible?

I'm in Wisconsin. I know at the very least, I should get a business license and food handler certification. Would those 2 things allow me to use any inspected kitchen for my products, and sell them anywhere? I know there are "cottage food" laws for making stuff from your own home, but Wisconsin only has that for canned and baked goods, plus it wouldn't allow me to go to trade shows.

And if these questions are better for a different forum, let me know! I know the conversation is straying quite a bit from simple candy making
 

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You should check with whatever agency that controls those licences and permits, they will be able to give you all the fine details. Laws like that vary so much from place to place, I wouldn't take anyone's word of mouth on what is legal.
 

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Your state Department of Revenue should be able to answer your state tax questions (income tax remittance and state tax collection and remittance). Set up a simple but detailed bookkeeping system from Day One. Better to have that info and not need it than need it and not have it. It will also help you track your P/L. Keep receipts! If you buy something secondhand such as at a garage sale where there's no receipt, make a note of what it was, date, cost, etc and put the note with your receipts. Write a check if possible and note on the check what it was for.

Start with the food safety regs. As CH said, they vary a lot depending where you live and maybe the circumstances of your business. If you aren't going to be able to meet those guidelines, then the rest of it is moot.

Have you looked into small business loans or grants? I have no idea where you would start, but I know there's money out there for entrepreneurs. Maybe contact the Small Business Administration and see if they have suggestions.
 
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