For most small growers, the local farmer’s market is the best place to sell your harvest, whether it’s a freshly picked crop, live plants or the many value-added products you can make and sell. Best of all, selling direct at the market allows you to cut out the middleman and receive full retail prices for your products. Here are a few tips for successful selling at the market:
Find a partner.If you are just getting started and have a limited selection of items to sell, partner up with another vendor who sells non-competing products.
Talk with customers. Shoppers at the farmer’s market want to know the people behind the crops, so it’s important to get to know your customers. If possible, give away free samples – a mini-bouquet of 3 flower stems, or a sample lavender bag, so a customer can take it home and try it out. Staple a handout to the bag listing all the ways it can be used, and your contact information.
Display easy-to-read signs. Customers want to know what you have for sale and how much it costs. Many prospects will not stop to look closer if there are no posted prices, or they are hard to read. Have a handout – “Lavender Secrets” or “Ten Ways to Use Oyster Mushrooms” that has your contact information.
Keep it simple. Your goal is to focus a customer’s attention on your products, so minimize distractions. Think about using a lavender colored canopy or table cover and signage.
Charge fair prices. By checking other grower’s prices – easy to do online – you can insure your customers will be satisfied that received good value for their money, and will be back to buy more.
Have a signup sheet to get customer’s email addresses, so you can stay in touch. This allows you to let them know about special sales or new products.
Keep your money safe. A farmer’s market is a friendly place, but all that cash might attract a thief looking for an easy score. Keep your cash box secure, and never leave anything larger than a $10 bill in the box. If it’s bigger than a ten, put it in your pocket or other safe place.
Boost your sales by accepting debit and credit cards. With the growing number of mini-terminals you can attach to a smart phone, it’s never been easier to accept plastic. Sure, you’ll pay a small fee on each sale, but surveys have shown accepting debit and credit cards can boost the average sale by a whopping 25-30%! That’s especially true with value-added products, as they are not essentials, like potatoes and broccoli, but impulse purchases.
Liability insurance. Most farmer’s markets spell out their requirements for vendor insurance. Check with the manager of your local market or some of the vendors to find out what is required and who they recommend, as it’s a specialized area that most regular insurance agents do not handle.
Farmer’s markets are perfect for new growers, as they bring the grower together with prospective customers who are ready to spend money, teach you how to interact with people and bring cash sales that you can spend now.
This article is one of 50 free and low-cost ways to market your crops found in our new book, Sell Your Harvest, available free with the purchase of any of our growing guides.