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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Smithville, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default starting a sideline operation

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    hey guys. I have a few questions for you sideliners. For several years now I've been gearing up and studing towards creating my own sideline beekeeping. I hope to start next spring with 4 hives and grow from there hoping to grow to about a 100 hives in 5-7 years giving myself time for the operation to all grow accordingly. Somethings I want to sort out before I actually have honey to sell is developing a brand name and a label that I can keep at whatever size I grow to. I have a company name in mind but one thing I know little about is the labeling. I'm currious what you's are doing whether your making your own labels or working with graphic designer or something like that for your labels?? any thoughts on the subject would be apprecieted.
    The second question that comes to mind is honeysales at retail stores. I have several people I know that run a store and I have in mind to ask if I can sell my honey in there store. What I not sure about is if there is a general % of the sales that should go to the store as a commition or something and am wondering what your expirence with retail is with this. thanks guys....bouks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,287

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    Quote Originally Posted by boukers View Post
    The second question that comes to mind is honeysales at retail stores. I have several people I know that run a store and I have in mind to ask if I can sell my honey in there store. What I not sure about is if there is a general % of the sales that should go to the store as a commition or something and am wondering what your expirence with retail is with this. thanks guys....bouks
    Sell it to the store. That what Cheerios and Pepsi do. Are you any different?

    If it isn't worth it to the store that you want to sell to for them to buy it, it won't sell.

    Sell it to the store w/ the idea that you will buy it back if it doesn't sell. If they don't want to do that leave. Commission to me means chasing money. I'd rather sell honey and buy back what doesn't sell.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Remsen, NY, USA
    Posts
    367

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    Boukers - If you have the time and the talent, creating a unique label will give you a marketing edge.

    Mark - This the jewel of the week!!!
    "Commission to me means chasing money. I'd rather sell honey and buy back what doesn't sell."
    We offer a product that is darn near un-perishable, so I'd have no trouble buying it back. A "Buy back if it doesn't sell guarantee" would be a great promotional angle and take the "worry it won't sell" factor out of the equation for the retailer. Brilliant!!!

    Thanks, Steve

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    From personal experience I can tell you that you will maximize your profits by selling retail yourself at your local farmers markets or similar venue. We have our honey in several stores and it doesn't even come close to the volume I get at the farmers markets. With 100 hives you will never be at the volume to sell to something like a City Market or Whole Foods venue, so if you do sell in stores it will be your local marts.

    Selling to stores means you will have to do all the work and sell at wholesale. Your wholesale price should cover your expenses and your labor plus leave room for a 40 to 60% mark up by the store. Selling at a farmers market is more work, not in preparation but in tending to the actual market. The advantages are this. You are representing your own product that you can talk about and sell. You can sell your honey at the highest price the market will bare, which sometimes can be a good deal if you know how to sell. I have one honey that I am getting $40 a quart and can't keep up with demand, so much of what you do has to do with presentation, selling quality, and knowing your market.

    Start visiting your local markets. Talk to the veggie vendors and see what traffic is like. Notice the prices. Are there other honey vendors or will you have a corner on the market. What angle can you use to make your product unique, etc.

    Having said all that none of it really matters much until you get your hive numbers up and can produce a large enough crop to meet whatever market you decide to enter into. NOTE: all your costs will be up front so expect that and figure in about 50% more then you think you will spend. Have a plan on how you will expand. Buy someone out, wood ware, pallets, where you going to put the bees (yards), don't forget extracting, bottling, labeling, etc. It is going to be lots of work...if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

    Good luck. Check out Chef Issac's operation. He is doing it right and I picked up some good tips and examples from his operation. But first get your bee numbers up and start seeing what kind of crop you can expect. Horse before the cart kind of thing.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Smithville, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    great advice!! keep it coming.
    Alpha6, other than driving 4000 miles is there an easier way to check out chef Isaacs operation? I don't see him on the web? thanks again...bouks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,287

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve10 View Post
    Boukers - If you have the time and the talent, creating a unique label will give you a marketing edge.

    Mark - This the jewel of the week!!!
    "Commission to me means chasing money. I'd rather sell honey and buy back what doesn't sell."
    We offer a product that is darn near un-perishable, so I'd have no trouble buying it back. A "Buy back if it doesn't sell guarantee" would be a great promotional angle and take the "worry it won't sell" factor out of the equation for the retailer. Brilliant!!!

    Thanks, Steve
    Thank you. Tell them not to put a price sticker on the label, if you don't have bar codes, as i do. Otherwise you will loose the label when you do take it back and they are hard to get off.

    All they can possibly loose is the shelf space. But once your honey is prominently displayed (try to get it somewhere where people will see it) it will sell. It takes a while for customers to get used to seeing it. And honey sales go in spurts. One day it will seem like no one is buying honey and the next week the stores will be bugging you for product.

    So, instead of spreading your honey around to alot of stores and selling yourself out of product before the next crop comes in, you might want to stick w/ one or two stores.

    How much honey do you have to sell?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Remsen, NY, USA
    Posts
    367

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    Mark,

    Another great idea...sounds like the voice of experience!!!

    No excess for sale yet. Queen rearing and building nucs to overwinter has me hoarding all I've got so far. Hope goldenrod is bountiful.

    Steve

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: starting a sideline operation

    I started small and grew my operation to 200 hives. I expanded the level of my sales as the number of my hives grew.

    I started selling out of my driveway with an honor box. As I expanded, I added the farmer's markets. Some of them are really hard to break into but that's another story. Different markets also have different rules. That's also another story.

    Then I added the wholesale health food market. The manager was very clear that if he started carrying my product, he expected me to be consistent and able to provide enough honey to keep the customers happy.

    Then a funny thing happened. Once the health food store started carrying my honey, several other grocery stores lined up to request my honey. It's like they didn't want to miss out on a valued product. I'm hard pressed to meet the demand.

    The driveway works well with a minimum of effort and people have access to my product 24/7. Yeah, you have to be a trusting individual and live on a busy highway. Surprisingly, there is very little honey that can't be accounted for in the money jar. I sell from my driveway 365 days a year.

    The farmer's markets are excellent. I sell a lot of smaller bottles and squeeze bears which are more profitable, especially at retail prices. But the markets take a lot of time and energy, but I really like selling my product and visiting and talking to people face to face. I sell at two differnt markets, one on Tuesday and another on Thursday and a third on some Saturdays if I have that day free. Our local markets run from late April through September.

    I also make a honey and beeswax soap for my market table.

    The wholesale markets handle a healthy volume, but mostly quarts and pints. While I don't make the retail level pricing, I move more honey in a shorter period of time. They also sell my honey year round. The store managers call and I usually deliver the next day.

    I also do a few festivals and fairs in season.

    I use Avery labels and designed my own labels on Microsoft Publisher. My intent to be as self-sustainable as possible.

    Hope this helps,

    Grant
    Jackson, MO www.maxhoney.homestead.com
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

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