Selling Produce at the Farmer's Market
Growing flowers and veggies has become one of rural America’s great pastimes. But sometimes you end up with a larger harvest than you bargained for. What does one do with all the leftovers? Or maybe you're looking for a way to get a return on investment for all your hard work. Whether you’re a seasoned hobby farmer or a novice gardener, selling to a farmer's market is a great option, plus you get to connect with people within your community. However, there are a few things to consider before getting started.
How to become a vendor at a farmer's market
Before you get started, you may need specific certifications to set up your farmer's market booth. Typical requirements include a food service license and certification, city business licenses and county health permits. Check state laws1 or local vendors to find what all you need.
Once you're certified, you'll have to find a spot to put your stand. Sometimes, you have to pay for the site. Other times, you only have to pay for the stand and any add-ons you want.
Lastly, you’ll want to think about how you transfer and preserve your produce. Since your booth may be at the market for a while, it’s important to make sure produce stays fresh and tasty.
Related: Tips for growing organic produce
Making yourself stand out
You could have the most delicious, nutritious and freshest looking produce in the entire market, but if you don’t get noticed, you may not sell as much as you hope. Luckily, there are ways you can make yourself known and not let your months of hard work go to waste. Sometimes, the smallest adjustments to your strategy2 can make all of the difference.
Create an eye-catching display
What's the first thing you notice about popular tables at your local farmer’s market? They've got a big, flashy, attractive display. Displays help draw customers to your booth and provide the first steppingstone to a sale. Feel free to unleash your creative side and design something that really resonates with marketgoers.
Place your best produce where people can see it
Getting a customer’s attention is only part of the battle. Once you get them over to your booth, give them a reason to stay. Put your freshest batch of produce out in front. When they can get a better look at what you have to offer, they’re more likely to engage and ask questions.
Advertise your produce’s unique value proposition
If you're trying to sell tomatoes at the farmer’s market, chances are you're not the only stand doing so. To differentiate yourself from the competition, you need to give your customers a unique value proposition. Tell them what makes your produce special. Is it how you grow it? The fact you don’t use any pesticides or something that enhances the taste?
Clearly label your prices
Many people go to the farmer's market on a budget. Some may be hesitant to buy if they can't see what you're charging. To take out the guess-work, you'll want to list your prices clearly and legibly on large signs. Making sure your decimals are visible and in the proper place helps avoid confusion.
Put up a friendly front for customers
It doesn't matter if you sell corn or computer software, good business is built on strong customer relationships. When people come to your booth, greet them with a smile and engage with their needs. Keep your focus on being friendly but still lightly nudge them toward a purchase.
Keep the line moving
If your booth is starting to gain traction, that's wonderful. However, you must be able to decipher between paying customers and those who are just browsing. You can do this by encouraging people who intend to buy to form a line. That way, you can tend to the needs of paying customers while giving others the time to look at your offerings.
It’s all about having the right strategy
Selling your produce at the farmer's market for the first time can be intimidating. However, with the right display, a unique value proposition, and the right attitude, you can make your farmer’s market stand a profitable success.
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 Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association: https://www.mfma.org/resources/Documents/MFMA_market_requirements_2020-02-24.pdf
 Money Crashers: https://www.moneycrashers.com/sell-farmers-market-business-vendor/
 Compeer Financial: https://www.compeer.com/Home/Educational-Opportunities?resourcelibrary=1;