One of my favorite hobbies is cooking and baking since I think the whole process of chopping/seasoning/measuring/concocting is cathartic. With cooking, I like its creative aspect because you can wing it since it doesn’t have to be so exact, and love going to or putting together dinner parties and potlucks. With baking, I like its preciseness (at least with the main ingredients), the house smells fragrant and welcoming after you bake, and I love giving them as gifts to family/friends over the holidays, packages to cheer people up, and as ice breakers when I first meet people like B’s family
so they’ll like me as a “Nice to meet you!” gift.
Though I sometimes forget I have stuff baking (which has led to the occasional “Great news – the fire alarm works!” text to B), for the most part they turn out fairly decent. I don’t have decorating down, but people seem to enjoy them:
So this past weekend, I was thinking of possible side income, and figured why not bake goods and sell them for a little pocket change here and there. I love doing it, people seem to like it, and I bake on Sundays so what’s another batch or so to add on. I looked on Ebay and Etsy, and it looks like people seem to do that online, but I wanted to do my due diligence first since people tend to be sue-happy and I’m pretty law abiding in general (i.e., don’t even jaywalk).
The Governator Governor Brown signed AB 1616, also known as the California Homemade Food Act, which took effect January 1, 2013. It allows some low risk foods (called “Cottage Foods”) to be made in residential homes and sold to the public since before, you needed a certified commercial kitchen. I checked the list, and it looks like cookies, brownies, and bread/loaves are on it, which were primarily the foods I’d like to make. So far, so good.
In order to do this, you either need a Class A registration, which allows you to directly sell, or a Class B permit, which allows you to directly or indirectly sell. I would be in the Class A category, and it looks like I would need to register with my local health department (I think a couple hundred or so), take some food processing guidelines course, not required to have routine inspections, be aware of how I label/package it, etc. While I’m not loving the registration since, really, like $50 at most should be sufficient, it is what it is and I would hopefully make that up sooner or later.
Then, the clincher – Advertising and transactions made on the internet are okay but NOT for shipping the product via courier service/mail/FedEx/UPS. Product may be delivered by the CFO within the county only.
ARGH! So I’m not allowed to sell and ship stuff off on Etsy or Ebay. I’m pretty good about sending Priority Mail to my loved ones the next day after I bake so they get it fresh, so if it’s being shipped in the U.S. then I would think this is a reasonable method to sell. But, The Man won’t let me. *shakes fist angrily*
Okay, so I know it’s for the consumers’ best interest and protection, so I get that perspective. But I was getting pretty excited about baking lots, putting them in decorative bags and tying pretty bows on them, etc., so yeah, it’s a bit disappointing.
So what’s an alternative option? I don’t want to sell it to my friends and family here since I already make it for them for free (I can’t have them take a bite and say, “Glad you like it… five dollars!”). And I’m not sure how it would be to advertise on Etsy with specific instructions that it must be given in person, or maybe Craigslist. With such a limited potential base to work with, will it even be worth the registration fee? I mean, I’d break even this year and then have to renew registration again.
So, it’s back to the drawing board, I guess. It was a good learning lesson, at least, and I do like the bill’s premise since it promotes fresh eating rather than packaged stuff made on factory lines. I told it to my boss and she brought up the thought of maybe I can write the registration and any transport fees as a tax write-off, so maybe that’s a possible route if selling person to person? And when I disappointingly told it to B, he advised maybe selling at the Farmer’s Market – I looked it up and it looks like there’s a Vendor seminars for it, so maybe I’ll research that (update: you’ll need consumer liability insurance and it’s getting too complicated with start-up costs, so don’t think I’ll be going this route). I’ll look into it some more and see what I come up with.
If anyone in Cali was thinking about this, here’s the bill: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB1616