Selling at farmer's markets
I apologize in advance if this is the wrong forum, but it didn't seem to fit anywhere else.
I have been baking fairly seriously at home for about 6 months, and my wife really wants to start selling at the local farmers markets. I am a little skeptical of the idea but wanted to at least do some background on the matter.
The big challenge, as I see it, is that I haven't really baked in quantity before and we don't have commercial grade equipment. Average sized home oven (with quite good temp control at least), kitchen aid pro 600 mixer, which I'm pretty sure is not up to many baking in quantity tasks. That said, I think we can get around the mixing issues by at least starting with no knead (but for a few stretch and fold) recipies which wouldn't overtax the mixer. Since it only involves about 2 minutes of mixing per batch, I kind of figure the two of us could assembly line it. I've got a great sourdough and good baguette/boule recipe. If we were to turn a profit, I'd probably sink money back into either an Electrolux DLX or maybe a used 5qt hobart. The bigger concern is the oven. It will do about 2 boules per rack, but I have not yet tried baking on both racks at once (I think it would be OK for this) but will need to try it later this week.If we could do 4 boules at a time, I can see baking about 50 loaves in around 6 hours which wouldn't be awful.
SO, a series of questions
1. WHat is the best way to store loaves, and what is a reasonable hold time. I see baking a bunch friday evening and selling saturday morning.
2. It seems desireable to get flour prices down. I use king arthur at home, which right now is 4 bucks for 5 lbs at the local grocery, or about a buck a loaf. Other material costs are negligable (water is more or less free, I got a ton of yeast at sams, my starter is going like a champ). Unfortunately, our Sam's does not sell any bread flour at all. Not sure if there are other ways to get bread flour in quantity easily.
3. I am figuring, supply wise, I need several more large rising containers, plastic bags, and twist ties for selling the bread, maybe some kind of homemade logo to establish a bit of a "brand". Am I missing anything here
4. Would baking stones be an advantage here? I currently have been baking on an old air bake cookie sheet and getting great results, but I'm wondering if more mass in the oven would be desireable.
5. What kind of quantity would be a sensible amount to sell? I'm thinking 20-30 loaves for starts to see where that goes, but I don't have any idea. We have a series of farmer's markets around here, and they are pretty well attended, but I don't know what the market looks like. I'm also not sure what fees are involved with getting space (I've got calls out). Seems like this and ingredients would be the main costs.
6. What about pricing? As it stands now, a loaf has about a buck of ingredients in it. The packaging (based on sources I've seen) works out to negligable per loaf, other main cost would be the cost of the space and a little bump on the electricity. I'm thinking I would probably need to sell pound loaves at around 4 bucks a pop for this to make any sense, but am not sure what the market would bear. I know a pound loaf of quasi artisan bread at Target and the local grocery goes for about 4 bucks, so that doesn't seem unreasonable. Don't need to get rich, but don't want to work for free either.
7. What else am I missing here?
Thanks in advance