Within the past 30 years, farmers markets have seen a boom in popularity. In the US today, there are over 8,600 farmers markets across the country where people can enjoy fresh, locally grown produce as well as concessions, baked goods, pet treats, and more.
While many are seasonal, closing in the winter and opening in the late spring, there are some markets that operate throughout the year.
One of the most famous year-round farmers markets is Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, which boasts over 10 million annual visitors. Other famous year-round markets include the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Santa Monica Farmers Market in Santa Monica, California.
While not as common as their seasonal counterparts, year-round markets can be a profitable opportunity for farmers and food vendors alike.
If this sounds intriguing to you, you’ve come to the right place! Today, we’re breaking down why you should look into becoming a vendor at a year-round farmers market and what you should do before applying.
Benefits of Year-Round Farmers Markets
Committing to a year-round farmers market vendor stall has numerous perks for your business revenue, your professional relationships, and your future success.
Even though seasonal markets can be a great source of income for food vendors like yourself, they don’t last forever. When the market closes for the winter, you need to find another way to bring in money until the weather warms up again. Becoming a vendor at a year-round farmers market can take a lot of stress off your shoulders because you won’t have to find a backup plan in the colder months.
Now, you may be wondering whether people in colder climates are likely to visit a farmers market in the winter. After all, how many people want to walk around in the cold to buy food when they could simply go to a grocery store?
As it turns out, many year-round markets are held indoors to encourage more people to attend when there’s a chill in the air. Even still, markets in cities like Washington, D.C. and Chicago still operate outdoors in the winter. Motivated by the benefits of eating locally grown foods and supporting small businesses, people simply bundle up and attend despite the weather.
If you’re used to selling at both spring and summer markets as well as winter markets, you know that involves submitting multiple applications to different markets throughout the year and waiting to hear back if you’ve been accepted.
If you’re able to become a vendor at a year-round market, though, this won’t be the case. You’ll likely only need to reapply with the market organizers each year, which can save you a lot of precious time.
Stronger Relationships With Customers
If you’ve ever been a vendor at a seasonal farmers market, you know that some customers frequent the market and return to your stand week after week. However, once the market closes, it’s hard to maintain any relationships with those customers. In many cases, you won’t see them again until the market reopens months later.
Selling at a year-round market makes it easier for customers to keep coming back to buy from you, which then makes it easier for you to connect with them.
Many people frequent farmers markets because they enjoy the face-to-face connection they get with growers and food vendors, so being able to maintain this kind of interaction throughout the year can help you build a loyal customer base.
Year-round markets can be an excellent way for you as a farmer or food vendor to switch up your usual fare and offer something new and exciting to your customers.
For farmers, this could mean offering storage crops such as squash, potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and more. If you’re a food vendor, try adding temporary menu items made with seasonally available ingredients and advertising them as limited-time specialties.
Offering new produce or menu items during the colder months is not only practical for you but fun for your customers. They may be more eager to brave the chilly weather if they know you’ll be offering special treats they can look forward to throughout the year!
Tips for Selling at Year-Round Farmers Markets
Now that you know some of the perks of selling at a year-round market, let’s talk about a couple things you can do to set yourself up for success at one.
Stand Out From the Crowd
Like you would at a seasonal farmers market, you’ll want to find a way to help differentiate your vendor booth from all the others around you.
One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you have a top-notch display to attract customers. If you’re selling produce, try stacking it to look more abundant than when it’s simply laid out flat on a table, which will be more compelling to customers.
If you’re a food vendor, having great branding can help you stand out. Choose colors that represent your business and the feeling you want customers to have when they come to your stall or truck.
You can also set yourself apart by doing the following:
- Offering special bundle deals
- Packaging your items in a unique or eye-catching way
- Pricing your items lower than what other vendors at the market are selling them
Complete the Necessary Paperwork and Protect Your Business
Before you apply for a spot at a year-round market, make sure you’ve filed all the required paperwork with your city in order to be able to legally participate. This will likely include a business license and possibly a food handlers permit if you’re preparing and serving food at the market.
Something else you’ll want to have before selling at a market is insurance to shield your business from unexpected costly claims. For example, if a customer gets sick from something you sold them at the market, you could be held responsible and they could sue you for medical costs.
Additionally, most markets will require you to not only show proof of insurance before selling with them but also to add them as an additional insured on your liability policy.
With FLIP, you can get farmers market insurance starting from $25.92 per month and you can customize your policy with additional coverages that suit your business, such as a food trailer endorsement if you use a detached, parked trailer as part of your operations.
FLIP’s online checkout process is quick and easy, so you can get the coverage you need in ten minutes or less. You can also add an unlimited number of additional insureds to your policy at any time, free of charge!
Liability claims can be extremely expensive and seriously harm your profits, or even force your business to close. Protect your business and finances with insurance and take the next step towards vending at a year-round market with FLIP!
Reap the Rewards
By selling at year-round farmers markets, you can enjoy the conveniences of an easy application and selling process, bringing in more consistent revenue, establishing closer connections with your customers, and mixing up your fare as the seasons change and keep customers interested.
Once you’ve booked a spot at a year-round market, there are plenty of ways to increase your chance of success. Don’t forget liability insurance from FLIP to make sure you get to enjoy all the benefits of selling at a year-round market and total peace of mind!