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Making Money On The Homestead: How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 2

April 21, 2015

So you've decided to sell products at a Farmer's Market!  Based on our experience and those we've spoken with, you'll have a wonderful time being surrounded by talented and like-minded people.  We went through some of the basic first steps in Part 1 of this 2-part series.  In this post we'll talk about the actual set-up.

My husband and I began selling our Apothecary products, eggs and veggies last year and we've really enjoyed it.  We've become friends with many new people, have a great little following and truly enjoy the vibe of the market and supporting the other vendors.

Once you've gone through the process of determining what you'll sell, have applied and been accepted, now you'll need to think about your booth and placement of products.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're trying to lay it all out:

Get Organized And Stay Organized
Organization will help you tremendously through the processes of loading, transporting, unloading and displaying your products.  When we first started it felt a bit overwhelming the morning of the market.  However, once we developed a rhythm it got much easier.  If you come up with a system in your first couple of weeks and stick with it, you'll find it easier to get out the door in the morning and no forgotten items. 

We designated a bag that always goes with us.  It includes our cash box, calculator, receipt book, notebook {for jotting down special orders and ideas}, pens, credit card reader, phone charger, business cards, brochures, scissors, rubber bands, paperclips, tablecloth weights {farm themed of course...}, banner clips, tape, and our sales certificate.  We re-stock this every Saturday but never actually remove items from the bag, so it's all set to go each week.  We are able to leave our canopy, banner, tables and chairs in our vehicle so we never have to load/unload them.  Sunday morning we simply have to load products, the bag, and our lunch/water/snacks!

Define Your Sales Area
Your booth is your store.  Make sure shoppers know where it begins and ends for ease of shopping.  If you're outside, you'll likely be allowed to put up a canopy.  This is a great way of not only protecting your products from the elements, but also defining your space.  Think about traffic flow and ease of movement for your booth.  The first time you set up your booth, do a pre-market walk through to test out the flow.
You will be challenged by the small space, so will you set up your tables toward the front of your space and allow shoppers to view your products as they walk by?  How about an L-shape with 2 tables?  Or a U-shape with 3 tables?  For our Winter market we went with a straight run of tables because we had to sit at one side or the other.  For our Summer market we are going with a U-shape, inverted, so we can sit on the backside of the center table.  We have a field behind us as opposed to back-to-back vendors making this a great option.

Make Good Use Of Vertical Space
With a smaller footprint, a great way to showcase more products and make your booth look fuller is to add a few vertical elements.  Stacking crates, a small shelving unit, or a wire rack with attached baskets is a nice way of offering products at several levels of view.  Make sure you have your products displayed so all customers can see and reach all products without stretching, bending or stooping.

Label Everything
If you have items that are not labeled they will not sell nearly as fast as those that do.  People do not want to ask prices, rather, they want to evaluate the product and price as they walk through your space.  Whether you use a large sign, small signs {blackboards are great and if you use opaque paint pens for those items whose price doesn't change, you don't have to keep re-writing the sign} or individual tags, try to stay consistent with all products.

Rotate Your Products and Keep Them Well-Stocked
Filling holes as items are purchased will make your booth continue to appear full and attract shoppers.  Rotating products to keep them out of the sun will help them remain healthy looking.

This is a balance.  You want to remain competitive with vendors around you, but at the same time have your own control over pricing of your products.  Consider also offering a quantity discount, particularly for those items you have an abundance of.  Additionally, consider a vendor discount.  This helps encourage vendors purchasing from each other and is a nice little "thank you" for their support each week.  And if you are open to bartering with fellow vendors, it's a nice way for each of you try out new products!

Keep Your Products Safe
Coolers with thermometers to gauge temps for eggs and meat are required for food safety.  If these are products you are selling, you'll have to get creative with the signs since your products will not be displayed.  Large, easy-to-read signs with cuts and prices are great for the meat.  Photos of the eggs or of the chickens who have laid them are great visuals for egg sales.

Greens don't need to be refrigerated, but misting them and other veggies from time-to-time, and not tying plastic bags of greens on warm days will help them look nicer and last longer.

Although not required, we keep coolers for our lotions and deodorants as well since the extreme heat or cold will eventually compromise the product.

Develop A Cohesive Look
There's no need to spend a lot of money on this, but instead of throwing a bunch of different containers, coverings, etc. together, decide on a look and stick with it.  Whether it be wood containers/crates with a red tablecloth, metal containers with a black tablecloth or a burlap and wicker basket combo, whatever your look, making it all match brings about a uniform look.

Think also about ease of packing the items when you decide on your look.  Stacking containers, lightweight containers, and items that can easily be transported together will make your set-up and breakdown go faster and smoother.

Offer Exceptional Customer Service
I know this should go without saying, but not using your cell phone when you have customers at your booth and giving them your full attention will go a long way.  Smiling, chatting, being cheerful and knowledgeable about your products are things that will help bring customers back again and again.

Sell Yourself
Customers want to know about you and your business.  Offer brochures, if you can, that they can take with, and/or make a sign that features a description of your farm {location, acres, crops, animals, etc.}, you {the farmers}, and your method of production.  Keep this in an easy-to-read location. 

Create a banner to hang high on your booth so shoppers can read it from a distance.  We found bullet points of some of our products, our company name and website all valuable additions to the sign.  Additionally, if you want to advertise specific products you can have small banners that hang over your table made for individual items.

Develop Thick Skin
Be open to suggestions and feedback.  A lot of customers will have great suggestions and feedback and a few will have an abundance of business advice.  Some are better at communicating their advice in a positive way than others.  Regardless, know that it's not about you personally, and find ways to take it and let it go. 

Be open to ideas from other vendors, pay attention to what works and what doesn't, and have a great time!

Other Home-Based Business Posts:
How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 1
How To Start A Blog
25 Ways To Add Extra Income To Your Homestead
10 Tips For Starting A Home-Based Business

Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

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