Sunday, July 11, 2004 7:08 PM
A modest success
It really would have helped to have the rest of my shipment, because the first day I sacrificed a lot of full-priced candy in sampling. Word got around, so this got very expensive. Our rule of thumb for the first day was to give a sample to people with sample coupons, or to those that appeared engaged and interested in the story of the product. Due to the power of word of mouth, this got a little out of control, but we did sell more than we gave away.
On the second day, we changed the rule of thumb to accepting the coupons, or taking $1 for a sample to defray a portion of our costs. Those that actually bought full boxes received a credit toward their purchase. By the end of the day today, we were selling slightly better than Saturday, but with a much lower cost of sales.
The JACL, Japanese-American Citizens League, had a booth next to us, and Sharon Tomiko Santos, the Democratic Whip of Washington's state house of representatives, was helping the JACL booth out. She bought a nice quantity of our product.
The attention that Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post helped bring to our booth was apparently quite high, as many people remembered reading the article or seeing our ad. Even Yuuyake Shinbun of Portland and, to a limited extent, Soy Source helped attract a few customers.
Maggie, my Cantonese-speaking assistant at the festival, helped explain and convert a lot of Chinese visitors into customers. Erin, who speaks Korean, helped draw in a lot of people who had by approaching them and telling them the story of the product, and Kazue was good at explaining the product to people who approached the booth. Maggie also facilitated making connections with people who have retail stores or other networking value. She was operating on very little sleep, because she was also busy doing night club promotions Friday and Saturday nights.
All-in-all, we did reasonably well on sales and very well on the promotion side of things. It would have really helped to have the impulse-buy size (single tube with three pieces of candy) and the big box, because we received a lot of requests for lower-commitment options and also for the bigger boxes. One gift set sample with 4 kinds of tea and 4 tubes of candy appealed to a several customers who wanted to buy it outright, but, alas, it was my only production sample and isn't yet being produced in quantity, so we were unable to sell it.
It's been a pretty rough weekend. I was up late on Friday preparing, up early on Saturday packing everything into my car, and really exhausted at the end of the day each day. On Saturday, Amelia, Erin and I went to Tutta Bella in South Seattle, which is a pizza place run by some people who apparently studied in Naples. It was pretty nice pizza: wood fired, thinner than typical American internpretations, but a little pillowy in texture; relatively simple, relatively sparing use of toppings. They also served a caeser salad, which was too big for one person; we shared one between three of us.