Sell More at Farmer's Markets This Season
FLIP believes in small business. We designed our insurance program to protect the financial security of small business owners, and we also do our best to curate content that will help food vendors sell more and succeed.
So here is our list of top tips to help you sell more at farmers markets this season. If you already do some of these things, comment and let your fellow food vendors know how they work. If you have any other tips, comment and let us know about those too.
- If you can, grow a variety of vegetables so that you can be one of the first vendors to come to market and one of the last vendors to leave at the end of the season.
- Offering samples is an excellent way to draw in curious customers. You might also consider offering other free and helpful tips like instructions for cooking vegetables that customers might not be familiar with. You might also consider printing some recipes to give out to customers, especially if you are selling produce that many customers might not know how to prepare well (like kale or Brussels sprouts).
Consider your brand and how you can set yourself apart from your competitors. Don’t settle for blending in with every other stand at the market. Decide what impression you want to give your customers and create that impression with your stand. Do you want to come off country and nostalgic? Shabby chic? Sleek and new-age? Go for it!
Just don’t come off as the vendor who doesn’t care, who didn’t put any thought into their brand. Well, unless that’s what works for you. You do you.
- Say “hello” to every customer who comes to your stand. If they are anything like me, your customers might be a little bit shy. I know when I go to a farmers market, I get nervous because I’m not used to shopping with the farmer who grew the produce or the cook or prepared the food standing right there watching me as I consider their product. It’s actually a really wonderful way to shop. I wish I could buy my food straight from the farmer or straight from the cook all the time, but it still makes me nervous. It makes me so much more comfortable when the vendor at the stand I approach greets me with a “hello.” It helps me feel more welcome.
- Consider selling from a cash-apron rather than from a register. This will allow you to move around among your customers and answer questions without leaving a register unattended.
- Organize your stand by creating a sense of both abundance and organization. Pile your produce high in baskets. Create the sense of heaping success and booming crops, and label everything. Make sure that the names and prices of all of your products are available. I have to admit that I have left a stand out of frustration more than once because the prices weren’t clear.
- Make it easy for your customers to shop at your stand. Many customers will not have brought their own bags, so have some bags that you can hand out to free-up the hands of some of your customers. You might also consider investing in a few wagons that customers can borrow from your stand to take large items or boxes to their car. Last season, I visited a farmer’s stand only planning to buy a few peaches, but because there was a little red wagon there to tote my purchases, I ended up buying three bushels of produce. I look back on that afternoon fondly.
Speaking of convenience, you might consider sell both produce and efficiency. Try creating a grab-and-go box that includes all of the produce needed for a recipe like salsa or a stir-fry or a salad. This can help customers feel like they are not only getting fresh-produce but also getting a little extra help from their local farmer.
Your food is the star of the show. Choose your color-scheme accordingly. This probably means choosing colors that complement the colors of the produce you are selling. So even if your favorite color combination in the world is chocolate brown and pastel pink, those colors might not be the right colors to choose for a stand where you choose red, orange, and green fruits and vegetables. But again, you do you.
The Modern Farmer discourages using multi-colored tents because, while they might seem attractive, they won’t make your produce look great because of the color they will change the light inside the tent. White tents or canopies fill your space with gentle white light. They are often a great choice.
- Another way to show off your produce is to choose containers that make your food look good and that protect it from bruising, So instead of just using a plastic or cardboard box, you might consider nestling your goods in baskets lined with cloth. After all, those goods represent a lot of hard work. Don’t hesitate to show it off.
We hope these tips are helpful as you head into farmers market season. We would love to hear about what you think and what tips you would have for other market vendors. Comment below to add your advice.
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Here are some sources that were helpful in writing this post. They might also be helpful articles to look at:
Learn more about liability insurance for farmers market vendors here.