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  • Writer's pictureB. Cooper

My First Pop-Up Event! Exciting Highlights

So this year I started a journey of something new for my small business. I've done pop-ups at farmers markets and festivals for three years now, and this year I am finally working to build my own pop-ups! Exclusive events where only my customers come to pickup custom designed orders, and I have a chance to hang out and chat and build a strong community. February was my first one! Let's chat about it.


From December 20th to March 1st I actually don't... really... work. Due to running a bakery and a farm-to-table one at that, my business is very dependent on the seasons. I have no farming to do, and everyone usually tries to cut back on baked goods after the holidays. Usually I do a little something for Valentine's but nothing too big.


The Goal


This year I wanted to attempt something new, at a time of the year where if it went horribly wrong, I wouldn't be too upset about it. I'm hoping that I can grow these to the point I don't need to depend on big festivals for steady income, no matter how much fun I have at said festivals.


Eventually I would love for this to feed into other big dreams I have for T&C. Exclusive pop-ups that lead into exclusive memberships? Loyalty program? First dibs on brand new products before they hit the shop? Someday feed into an actual storefront or food truck? My mind is always going a mile a minute honestly. I have a lot of passions I would like to pursue but not enough time in the day or confidence (for some things). But I love hearing from all of my customers what they'd like to see too, sometimes they have amazing ideas I never dreamed about!


The Details


So let's talk details! The basics for this idea is:

  • Menu available for 2-ish weeks

  • Menu will consist of 4-5 items to choose from that aren't available at any of my markets

  • Pickup time & location posted on menu for easy understanding

  • Each order is giftwrapped with customers name on it for easy grab-and-go

  • Pickup window is about 3-4 hours

  • People can grab their orders and go or hang out and chat, all up to them


For my first pop-up my goal was honestly 2 or 3 orders. I would've been happy with that, even if it was just to show the place hosting me that people were actually interested. To my surprise I had 5! One was an early pickup so they picked up from my porch over the weekend, and another was a special order that was picked up alongside my valentine's themed pickups.


Pink reusable bags on a bench with greenery, potted plants, and a bag of homemade hot cocoa mix
My Pop-Up Haul! 3 Valentine orders and 1 special order.

Highlights


What I loved about this event was I could actually have a full conversation with each of my customers. Usually at big events I am bombarded with new customers and I find myself repeating my small business spiel constantly. Not complaining, I'm very grateful for every new face I meet. However, these new events give me an opportunity to have more one-on-one time with each of my customers. I was able to talk about future orders, big life events, and learn about each of their wants and needs. It felt like a really cool experience.


The coffee shop that hosted me was incredibly gracious and very helpful, something I appreciate so much. I'm definitely on the more introverted side of things, and Commonplace Coffee had this little alcove they named the Vault Room (Aptly named as the coffee shop used to be a bank). I was able to avoid drawing too much attention to myself and also have private conversations without interrupting a lot of the people who were studying/working in the coffee shop. Even when they asked me questions and I had no idea about the answer they were very inciteful and kind.


Because this a smaller, more exclusive, event I was able to put more time and effort into the presentation of my orders. That and it being a holiday led me to building these fun bags! This first event was a bit more spontaneous on bag design, using reusable bags, but it's really sparked a bit of creativity in me. I would love to design different exclusive packaging for every event! Partially for the creative in me, but also to elevate the whole 'exclusive' feeling.


Changes


Something I am contemplating for next time, is having an extra pickup day set aside for anyone who can't make the pickup day. For Valentine's I unfortunately needed to make the pickup day a Tuesday (since Vday was on Wednesday) and I have a lot of events on Saturdays usually. In March I have two Saturday events that just happen to be on the weekends I'm contemplating pickup days for St. Patrick's and Easter.


Another thing I'm contemplating changing is being more visible during the pickup time. I know, I just said how I liked being secluded, but my goal for 2024 is to do a lot of things outside of my comfort zone. This is definitely something I can push myself on.


Then my biggest struggle is content creation and marketing. Those are always things I can work on. Maybe get photos with each of my pickups? I don't even like talking on the phone in public, so the thought of taking photos of myself or videos weirds me out. However, that pesky comfort zone is really holding me back. I would love to share more of this process with everyone too!


After


The day after this pop-up was Valentine's day (duh), so I got to celebrate a good event with my favorites! Chai lattes, wonton soup, bubble tea, a glass of wine, and psychological thrillers (not all at once or in that order, just throughout the day). My brother and parents all had Valentine plans so I got to pretend I live alone again for an evening.



All in all I see a lot of potential here with these events. I really believe we can build this up to a fantastic monthly get-together with desserts and smiles and hugs for all! If you have suggestions, ideas, or questions, feel free to send me a message through my contact page. The next pop-up details are going up soon, I'm actively designing mood boards and menus as I'm writing this. Until next time!

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