Sunday, October 23, 2011


In between cycles of messing up and cleaning up my kitchen on Saturday during the canning project gone awry, I loaded the trunk of my car with merchandise for the booth space I rented at the antique shop.  I was supposed to meet the owner there at noon Sunday to set up my space.  The plan was to have all of the non-edibles loaded in the car the day before so that all I had to do Sunday was pack the jars and go.    The shop is open from 1:00 to 6:00 on Sundays so arriving at noon would give me about an hour to set up my space. 

The reason I only loaded the non-edibles on Saturday was because the recipe ingredients for the Cookies-in-a-Jar were not yet in the jars.  Instead, they were all over the work table in my office.  Ingredients for a dozen different recipes in unopened packages were all over my work table.  Wide-mouth canning jars, still in the shrink wrap cardboard flats they came in, were setting on the floor underneath the table ...ugh!   So I was up early again Sunday morning, determined to take care of all my normal weekend chores and still make my goal of meeting the shop owner at noon. 

This whole idea of renting a space to sell things sounded so simple in the beginning.  But jumping through all the hoops to get it off the ground has been a little wearing.  The first step was a trip to the tax office for a permit.  That was a little bit of a hassle as most permitting things tend to be ...but I got it done.  Then came what I thought would be the fun part of finding recipes.  Most any recipe can be adapted to this form of packaging but the more varied the colors and textures of the dry ingredients are, the better it will look in the jar.  Sugar cookies, for instance, would be visually boring ...just flour, sugar, baking soda, salt.  Boring. 

Finding recipes has been fun but it's been time consuming too.  When I found a recipe I wanted to use, I added it to my 'inventory list' and then added the ingredients to my shopping list.  I have a document set up in Publisher to create the instruction cards that are attached to each jar.  I created a new page for each recipe and set up a theme-appropriate border or a graphic for each different recipe.  Four 'instruction cards' fit on a page, then I cut them apart using these fancy little craft scissors designed for the Scrapbooking crowd.  It's all fun and appeals to my crafty/creative side ...but right now, it's time consuming. 

So far, I have collected a dozen or so cookie recipes with dry ingredients that include oatmeal, M&Ms, chocolate, white or butterscotch chips, raisins, and dried cranberries.  I found a couple of fancy brownie recipes too and some flavored hot chocolate recipes.  At the suggestion of the owner, I will stock two jars of three different varieties for now.  Today I put two jars each of Cowboy Cookies, Cowgirl Cookies and Mississippi Mud Pie Brownies on the shelves.  The six jars I put out are all I have made up so far.  But the plan is to make them ahead so that restocking will be quick and easy.  I'll generally stock the same varieties for one month.  When the weather cools down, I'll use pint jars to stock flavored hot chocolate mixes.   These are the three varieties I put on the shelves today. 

Mississippi Mud Pie Brownies

Cowboy Cookies

Cowgirl Cookies

The only differences between the CowGIRL Cookies and the CowBOY Cookies are the color of the M&M's,  whether I put Chocolate Chips or White Chocolate Chips in the jar, and what color bandana I cut up to put over the top.  The lids are vacuum sealed onto the jars to keep the ingredients fresh. 

I've seen similar jars with cookie ingredients in specialty shops being sold for $15 and up,  but I don't have any real overhead.  I've kept careful track of my costs and only have $2-$3 in each jar so I intended to price them at $8 each.  The owner talked me into putting $15 on them though.  She said she has been in business in the same location for over 9 years.  She knows what sells and has a feel for pricing things.  According to her, there's already a lot of interest even from the other vendors in the store and she doesn't want me to be afraid of making a profit. 

O.K.A.Y.  Feels like a lot of profit to me but I guess if they sell at that price, that's the market.  I might splurge and fancy up the fabric tops a little if I'm going to be making $12 per jar!  Other vendors at the shop that purchase from me get a 10 percent discount.  I get a ten percent discount on their merchandise as well.  So worst case, I will net $12 per quart.  Wow.  That still boggles my mind.   

This is what my space looked like when I left the shop today. 

It's just a bookcase, not a whole booth space but it's a good start.  I am in a good location in the shop and now that the preliminary legwork is done, I think it will be fun.  Especially if she's right about how much those jars will sell for ...wouldn't that be a nice little bonus! 

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Blogger Modern Day Redneck said...

Good luck with the booth it looks great.

October 24, 2011 at 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

try soups in a jar too. good for winter !


October 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another jarred item that sells very well is Russian Spiced Tea.

It's made with a powdered orange juice substitute, mulling type spices, and a few well placed broken in half, cinnamon sticks (for stirring sticks) placed around the outside of the jar for color and taste contrast.
this instant tea is so fragrant and a great presentation for a pint sized jar.

October 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peanut butter powder can be found at many prepping companies that sell #10 canned baking good items.

Peanut Butter and chocolate chip bars made with this powder, is another colorful jarred item to consider adding.

Good Business to you!

October 24, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the shelf that is to be used as your jar pantry shelf, consider finding some old pattern fabric, like quilting squares, or old world flowered print, and tack it up to the backboards of the shelf with just a few dabs of elmers glue. then pin a few of your doilies jar topper covers up on it, sell them too for a profit.
many canners, give jars of their veggies as presents for the holidays, and capping them with a doily cover, is just the right touch to stick them in a basket.

October 24, 2011 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Thanks, MDR...
The shop is only open Thursday through Sunday and, surprisingly, they do most of their business on weekdays. I'm not sure why that would be the case but I guess I need to spend Monday through Wednesday making up some more inventory. I can make quite a few ahead without worrying about waste because I plan to give them as gifts myself this year. Depending on the ingredients, most will have a 6-12 month shelf life anyway because they're vacuum sealed into the jars. I'll let you know how it goes.

October 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

@ Anonymous TinaH...
Soups are very good idea, especially after the weather turns cold. I will look for some recipes.

I'm not sure if my three other Anonymous comments are also from you, TinaH, or from different anons. I apologize for my confusion. I just don't know how to tell one anonymous from another unless there's a name at the bottom! But all of the suggestions sound great and I appreciate the input.

Regarding the Russian Spiced Tea, the one rule about have edible items on the shelf is everything must be sealed inside the jar. So I couldn't put cinnamon sticks on the outside. But I could place them inside the jar with the powdered ingredients and just make the first part of the instructions to remove the cinnamon sticks and set aside. Good idea!

The peanut butter powder is a good idea if it's not too expensive ...I'll look into it. Thanks!

I also like the idea of a backdrop made from quilts or old timey print fabric for the cookie jars. I have several quilts that I could use. Right now the jars are spread two to a shelf, grouped more or less by genre with the other items for sale. All of the Breyer models needed two shelves and the shop owner suggested I put the Cowgirl Cookies with yellow bandana toppers with the two palomino models and the two Cowboy Cookies with the rest of the models. A third shelf holds the two Brownie jars and a collection of salt & pepper shakers. If the Cookie Jars take off like the owner expects, I will will need to stock more than just six and then I would give them their own shelf.

Thank you all again for the comments and suggestions. I'll keep you posted!

: )

October 24, 2011 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I also add, good luck and I believe your jars are worth the fifteen dollars...wish I had a few for Christmas gifts.

October 25, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Thanks, Stephen. If you and the shop owner are right. This will finance a nice Christmas present for YOF.

: )

October 25, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I love Mississippi Mud Pie (cake), but I don't think I have ever eaten the cookie version. I'm betting it is wonderful.

Right Truth

October 26, 2011 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Mississippi Mud Pie in any form, what's not to love?!

: )

October 26, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Kids and Canning Jars said...

Oh my goodness. I feel we need to meet up for a swap of goodies!!! Savings on cost; you could use paper bags, fall leafs, for tops looks crafty and cute. Or fabric form sheets or old clothing. Re-purpose them of course. I think $15 is way to high. I would not pay that. But, $12 maybe. Here is an idea to move product if you say any 3 for 30 or some deal. You will sell more. People love to feel like they are getting a deal. I hope this works for you. Maybe we should set up a swap of home canned stuff, dry or wet. MMMMMMM thinking. Melissa

October 27, 2011 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Hi, Melissa...
We should meet up sometime. I think my Arizona grandkids are moving back to Houston soon I'll be heading your direction from time to time. How far is Brenham from you?

Thanks for the suggestions. I wanted to put only $9 each on the jars ...$15 was the shop owner's idea. When I balked, she said you can always go down rarely go up. But the two-for-discount price sounds good. If they sell at $15/each, I would offer two for $25. If I drop the price to $12 each, I would offer two for $20. I think December 1st would be a good time to do that as I think a lot of people will buy them to give as gifts. We'll see how it goes.

As far as packaging in paper bags, these are raw ingredients and I don't think that would keep them fresh. The online websites I've seen all have you use the ring to hold the canning lid on the jar ...but I am vacuum sealing them in the jar with my Foodsaver attachment. Someone who buys my jar will need a can opener to pop the lid, so the contents have a longer shelf life. I'm making them ahead and giving some as gifts myself this year shelf life is important to me.

I do repurpose fabric for a lot of things but bought the bandanas for this project because of the cowboy/cowgirl theme. I only paid $1 each for two bandanas and cut them into 6-inch squares. They were 18x18 so I got nine squares from each bandana ...about 11 cents each. I'll look through my fabric stash and see what I have for future recipes. I plan to add some soup mixes and spiced teas as the weather cools down. The cost would be much less for those ingredients so the prices would definitely be lower as well.

Have a great day!

: )

October 28, 2011 at 5:35 AM  
Blogger Julie Harward said...

Good luck with this venture..sounds like a lot of work and will take lots of organizing. We did this one year for Christmas for our neighbor gifts..what an assembly line we had going with our 8 kids! ;D

October 29, 2011 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Thanks, Julie ...
An assembly line with 8 helpers sure would be nice! I spent three hours in the kitchen putting together soups and hot cocoa jars yesterday in preparation for a big sale at the shop this coming week. My feet were complaining loudly when I finally went to bed last night and were still complaining this morning. I sure don't have the stamina I used to for these projects. It will all be worth it if it pays for itself and pays the rental on the shelf space at the shop for a few months.

Thanks for the visit. Those 8 kids are sure going to be a blessing when you move to your new place too!

October 30, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats and best wishes on your new venture. What terrific ideas you have for a wide variety of mixes.

Just wanted to make a suggestion. For bandana-topped jars, consider using raffia or twine. That look would go together better than curling ribbon.

Well done!

BT in AZ

November 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM  

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