A Farmers’ Market is where most novice food entrepreneurs sell their product. If you are in the startup phase of your business or been in business for 1-2 years, selling at the farmers’ market gives you a direct path to the consumer. An established farmers’ market is often the social gathering place of a community. And for this reason, if you have the opportunity to sell at a local farmers market, give it a try.
It’s not a brick and mortar location, but it is a place where consumers socialize. They come together to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. The bonus? Finding your unique specialty food product.
Next, a farmers’ market can help promote your products to consumers who may be visiting for the first time. The key is to locate a farmers’ market that meets the need of your product.
Is a Farmers’ Market the Right Market for You?
It is definitely the right place to give your product exposure and allow consumers to sample and learn about your story.
A farmers’ market is all about building relationships. It’s about selling on a personal level. Do you (or another family member or employee) have time spend 5-6 hours selling? Market days are long, vendors are on their feet, and you’ll have to decide who will pack the products and drive to the market?
Think about who will set up a display, meet and greet customers. Are you a social butterfly? At the end of the day who will pack up the display and what happens to leftover products? Do you have a vehicle suitable for taking your products to the market?
The truth is as a new food entrepreneur using a compact car and a small folding table may be great at first. But as the business grows, many vendors look for comfort and convenience. The truth is being a food entrepreneur is hard work.
The success of farmers’ markets, in general, is great news for you as a food entrepreneur. Here are 10 best practices all farmers’ market vendors should follow:
- Define your purpose
- Set a revenue goal
- Build a community
- Display those social butterfly qualities
- Offer high-quality products
- Price appropriately
- Merchandising is important. Showcase a dazzling display of your products
- Offer samples
- Do it!
Plan – Have a clear understanding of why you are selling at the farmers’ market.
- Build a community
- Giving the consumer an opportunity to meet and greet
- Share your knowledge and expertise
- Give samples
Define your purpose – Setting up at the farmers’ market will do one of the following: Answer the question? Why are you selling at a farmers’ market?
- Expose product to the marketplace
- Learn about the competition
- Receive feedback about product taste, size, and packaging
- Engage with potential consumers
Set a revenue goal – determine if selling at the market will yield appropriate revenue. Is it worth it?
- Evaluate attendance at the market
- Determine if attendance will meet your revenue goal
- Examine customer profiles
Build a community
- Use social media to attract your demographic to the market
- Create social activities that will engage your ideal avatar
- Gather email addresses for social engagement
Display those social butterfly qualities – How will you serve your customers?
- Create a customer service policy
- Determine your customers’ vision
- Assess customer needs
Offer high-quality products – Based on the demographics of the farmers’ market determine if your product is a good fit.
- Determine price based on other products sold at the market
- Examine product packaging
- Analyze how to sell your product, individually, batch packaging or custom products
Price appropriately – Pay close attention to the cost of each product and price accordingly. It is important you know the demographic and what farmers’ market attendees are willing to pay.
- Test pricing based on packaging, (individually, batch packaging or custom products)
- Examine pricing based on the market demographic
Merchandising is important – Will you use only a table or table/tent? (What is allowed at the farmers’ market?)
- Showcase a dazzling display of your products
- Examine packaging
Offer samples – Determine if you will allow customers to taste your products.
- Determine the sample size
- Decide what flavors will be sampled
- How many samples can a customer sample at one time
The best way to determine if selling at your local farmers’ market is beneficial is to “Do it!.” Let the Farmers’ Market manager know you have never sold at a farmers’ market and ask to participate for a limited period of time. Give yourself enough time to determine if the market is a good fit, 2-3 months, going every week or every other week.
Consider using the Three Ws” to get the message out. Avoid expensive ads.
- Word of mouth
- Work the media to get them to cover your message (Invite a local journalist to visit your market stall/tent)
- Create a web strategy that works for both external and internal customers
Are you ready? Planning to sell at a local farmers’ market in your community? Where? We might just drop by!
Here’s one baker’s story!