Feb 1, 2022Do’s and don’ts for selling at farmers’ markets
I’ve observed and confirmed with various market associations in the country that there is a demand for more produce vendors at many farmers’ markets. Since the pandemic’s beginning, many produce growers have dropped out of some farmers’ markets for two reasons: 1) the markets weren’t allowed to be open, or 2) the demand was so high at their on-farm market, they didn’t need to be at the farmers’ market.
So, I’d like to share some things to consider if you want to sell your products at a farmers’ market.
Do your research
Visit the markets you are considering. How well are the market’s public relations? Are there signs directing people to the market? Are their social media and website up to date and managed well?
When you visit the market, take note of the parking for both customers and vendors. Will you be able to park at your stand, or will you need to offload your vehicle and park elsewhere? Is there access to electricity should you need it? Are there restrooms nearby and hand-washing facilities?
It’s a good idea to visit the market later in the day. If you go to the market at the beginning of the day, the manager and vendors will be too busy to talk with you. A good time to go is when the market is open in the last hour or two. Things slow down at the end of a market day, and there is a better chance to have a conversation and ask questions.
Find out what the requirements are for being a vendor. Chances are, you need liability insurance. If you already have insurance, you may be required to add the market as an “additional insured.”
Ask about licensing requirements. These can vary depending on your location, so it’s essential to check. If you are using scales, they may need to be certified.
OK, you found a market you want to sell through, and your vendor application was accepted. Here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” for market day.
Be on time. It can take a bit of time setting up a produce stand, and if you arrive late and you aren’t fully set up by the time the market opens, you never will be fully set up, which can cost you in sales income.
Brand your stand. Your stand should have an appealing look consistent with the story you are trying to tell. The colors of your stand may want to reflect the colors of your logo, and your logo should be everywhere and on everything. Dress appropriately. You don’t want to show up at the market looking like you just came out of the field. Some might think it gives them some “authenticity, ” but you may turn off some customers if you are in dirty clothes.
Make sure you have enough change for your cash box. You may also want to consider having some form of accepting electronic payment. It could significantly increase your daily sales figures as many more people cease to carry cash with them, and if they do bring some money, it’s in limited amounts.
As stated earlier, don’t be late to the market. Don’t be grumpy. People don’t want to purchase from someone who looks like they don’t want to be there.
Don’t be short on your top products. There will be products that become popular or associated with your stand, and you don’t want to be erratic with having them every week during the season. If you are inconsistent with products, customers will search other vendors or other markets for them.
The No. 1 thing customers look for when buying produce is quality, not price, so bring your “A” game and your best products and enjoy the new customer relationships and profits!
— Brian Moyer, Penn State Extension