Farmer’s Markets are a great way to celebrate the growers and crafts from people who make your local area special. But are you on the right side of the stall? Are you a grower or craftsperson who would like to explore selling your goods at a farmer’s market?
Farmer’s markets are a way for producers to test the market, connect with customers, and start making sales. However, it’s a little more complicated than just renting a space and putting products on a table.
That being said, here are five tips and strategies to get you started, helping you set up for success.
Choose the Right Market For Your Product
Farmer’s markets can vary greatly in the products they offer and the crowd they attract. Some focus on produce, while others tend more towards finished food products, like handmade pasta and salsas.
When you are starting out, you might benefit from one that offers a variety of both. This way, you can try out new products to see how the market responds.
Visit Your Local Markets
Pick a market that has convenient hours and is in a location that works for you, allowing you to assess the crowd. Remember, you will need to transport and set up your goods. Talk to vendors and tell them that you are thinking about renting a booth. You’ll be surprised how happy people are to talk about their business.
Of course, it helps to buy something and only approach them when they do not have a crowd of customers.
Take Care of Business
Before signing up to rent a space, talk with the market manager. Ask if they have any other vendors selling the same product as you. Ask how often they advertise and where. Ask about average market attendance and, finally, make sure you have an idea if you are signing up for a space for one week, one month, or one season. Do they require anything of you, like insurance?
In summary, make sure you understand what you are committing to before you sign up!
Offer High Quality and Unique Products
Farmer’s markets are known for selling fresh fruits and vegetables. If produce is your thing, you’ll need to let your customers know what makes your produce different. Is it grown organically? Can you guarantee it was picked in the last 24 hours? Do you have pictures of your farm that you can add to your display? If you are offering the same tomatoes and lettuce as the person next to you, you need to find a way to stand out.
You are not limited to produce since today’s markets are full of items like fresh meat, eggs, baked goods, drinks, jams, jerky, pickles, and more. Goods like these mean you are competing with vendors and the grocery store. Your pickles and jams will probably cost more than those at the grocery store, hence tell your customers why it’s worth it. Create unique flavors that are unavailable elsewhere or appeal to niche markets that are underserved, such as sugar-free or gluten-free products.
Create an Inviting Display
The best way to draw in customers and sell goods is with an attractive display. Keep your area clean, tidy, and organized. Keep the display full and clearly label your items with name, descriptions, and price. Lastly, use bright colors to bring attention to your display.
Tips for Displaying Produce
Bring only high-quality produce to sell. Tilt display containers on their sides with the produce toppling out onto the table towards customers. Bring bags for your customers and put them in an easy to reach location. Keep produce looking fresh by keeping it out of the sun. Use an ice water spray bottle and mist the produce throughout the day.
Benefits of a Folding Marquee
There is nothing wrong with starting with a folding table for your first few Farmer’s Markets. But once you decide to commit, get a quality folding marquee. Small ones are easy to set up and takedown by a single person. They will also protect your products and signage from the sun and rain.
If you want to take things to the next level, you can have your marquee custom printed with your company name and images of your products. Add a canopy to shade customers from the weather, making your display even more inviting!
Set Prices Wisely
Consider all of your expenses, including supplies, packaging, your display, and especially your time. Many craftspeople undervalue the time they spend creating and selling the product. Don’t underpay yourself.
Set prices that are easy to total and give change back. It’s easier to set prices slightly high and lower rather than to start low and raise prices later. Remember that you can always promote an item with a sale or offer discounts for volume purchases, such as 1 for $5 or 2 for $8.
Smile and Keep Them Coming Back For More!
Good customer service will keep customers returning week after week. Try to establish a relationship with your customers and remember what they bought so you can make recommendations the next time you see them. Make sure everyone working at your stand knows the products and can answer questions about them.
If you are new to sales, there are a few general rules you should follow. Serve only one customer at a time. Do acknowledge each person as they approach your booth and tell them that you will be with them as soon as possible. Try to keep track of what order people arrive so you know who to help next. Show enthusiasm for your product and give your customers informed about what you are selling.
Everyone loves samples and it encourages people to try something new. Prepare a handout to include with purchases. This could be a flyer with recipes using your products, a calendar of farmer’s markets you plan to attend, or even information about a website or how to reach you for further purchases. If your product is seasonal, let them know what goods you plan on offering next week or month.