Do you want to be a market vendor but have little knowledge on how to sell at a farmers market? The article you are about to read is a step-by-step guide on how to sell at a local farmers’ market and from it, you will get the answers you are looking for.
Although selling at a farmers’ market might sound as easy as getting your product to the market, there are few things you must put in place, for instance, determine what to sell, select a suitable farmers’ market, set up a budget among others.
Follow the below-outlined steps for a successful farmer’s market business.
11 Steps on How to Sell at a Farmers Market
1. Determine what to sell at the local farmers’ market
This is the first step you need to take when the idea of selling at the farmers’ market comes to you. To choose what produce/items to sell at a market stall is usually guided by several factors. These include; market policies and restrictions, personal preferences, local laws governing the sale of particular food products, best-selling items at markets and, what you can manage to grow or prepare with the available resources.
There are two main ways in which you can sell at your local farmers’ market. You can either sell what you grow and if this is the case, you need to start the production process several months before you plan to sell at the market.
Or, choose to resell produce since many local farmers’ markets allow traders to resell farm products that they have not produced/grown themselves. This works well with potential traders who don’t have land or time to grow their produce.
2. Discover a local farmers market in your area
Now that you have determined what to sell, the next step is to ascertain where to sell your product. Since not all farmers’ markets are the same, you need to learn about each farmer’s market’s people, culture and, products. To achieve the best from this, you need to visit each farmers’ market personally and spot those that fit you and need what you have.
You can also visit the individual farmers’ market websites to learn more about registering as a vendor.
3. Investigate on local laws and health regulations
It is paramount to carry out full research on local laws and health regulations before you set up your business at the farmers’ market. This helps you protect your business from being shut by the local health authorities.
Contacting your local health department also helps you understand how different farmers’ markets like the product to be handled, for example, learn the market requirements on preparation and storage of baked food, or how to present and store produce, and much more.
4. Create a business plan
To a majority of people, selling at a farmers’ market is more of a hobby than a business that’s why we advise on a different approach when it comes to setting up a business at the farmers’ market. If you want your business to be unique and successful, make a business plan before you get started.
A business plan not only helps you plan how to market your products but it also helps you plan how to finance your business and profile your goals. It is a good way to keep your business operations on track.
5. Acquire start-up capital and lay down a budget
Although selling at a farmers’ market is mostly inexpensive, there are some expenses that you need to consider before you start your business. First and foremost, there is the stall rental fee that a farmer’s market charges (usually by the season or year). The amount charged for a booth/stall rent is dependent upon the markets’ location and popularity.
Secondly, consider the expenses on storage facilities, for example, a cooler and ice packs especially if you plan to sell prepared food meant for immediate consumption or animal products. Or portable burners, slow burners, and a buffet set if you plan to sell hot prepared food. Another important storage facility you should never forget to budget for is a lockbox for storing cash.
Lastly, set aside a budget for other things like seats, tables, personnel, carry-out bags, credit card processing facilities, samples, and any other thing that you might need. This helps you determine the amount of capital you need and if you need financing before you start your business.
6. Register your business and acquire the necessary licenses and permits
Having laid out a budget and have acquired start-up capital, it’s now time to start the vendor application process and business registration. The first thing to do is contact your target markets’ management team and inquire about the required permits or licenses for selling legally. The registration requirements in any market vary with the kind of product being sold.
For example, in most farmers’ markets, those selling prepared/processed foods are required to obtain seasonal food permits and submit to periodic inspections from the local health officers. While less strict requirements apply to those selling raw produce. (Whether you grow it yourself or, you source from the grower and they don’t alter it in any meaningful way).
Therefore, before you sell anything at a local farmers’ market, visit your local authority, fill the application form, pay a minimal fee, and submit to any relevant authorities’ inspections.
7. Research on business insurance
Some farmers’ markets require you to obtain insurance for your business while others don’t’. Although you might feel lucky when it’s not a requirement at the farmer’s market you plan to set up your business, it is important to always protect yourself from liability.
Whether business insurance is required or not, contact your farmer’s market and get recommendations on local insurance companies should you need one.
8. Obtain your spot at the market
Assuming that you have chosen a popular local farmers’ market, you will have to go through the vendors’ checking list before you get your preferred spot at the market. This may take a while and you may find yourself not getting your first spot choice in your first year in business. Don’t give up though, this is how business is!
You have to compromise a little.
With a little more patience and regular contact with the market operators, you will be able to maximize the chances of getting your first or second choice in your next operating year.
9. Come up with a system for getting your merchandise to the market
After securing your spot at the market, the next step is to strategize on how to get what you are selling to the market. Depending on the nature of your merchandise, several things come into play including; reliable transportation like trucks if you are a large seller or, hatchbacks/sedans if you are a small vendor.
Other things you need to strategize on are approved production and suitable packaging facilities.
10. Generate and place approved posters
The product presentation and general appearance of your market booth should be attractive. This helps pull customers to your stall and enhances sales. But before you place any posters or drawings check with the market’s management team on what’s acceptable.
Different booth ideas can make your stall eye-catching. For example, printed banners showing items and prices, handwritten listings on a whiteboard and, much more.
11. Get the Most Out of your Market Stall
Finally, it’s time for you to get the most from your market stall and there are several ways to do so. For example, make sure that you follow the market’s regulation to the letter, and be unique. Also, consider adding value to your products, give out free samples, maintain an all-year-round supply, and never misinterpret yourself or your products.
Those have been the eleven steps on how to sell at a farmers market that if you follow keenly, you are going to have it easy with selling at a farmers’ market.
Always remember the tips for vendors have shared like aiming to fetch the most from your stall by maintaining all-year-round supply, following the market’s laws and regulations, adding value to your products, and remaining unique.
What are your thoughts on selling produce at a farmers’ market? And if you are already a vendor what are your experiences?