Farmer’s markets are nothing new. But, they’ve been gaining popularity across the country in recent years. As people are trying to practice more sustainable lifestyles, purchasing local foods and goods has become a priority.
There have been lengthy studies as to why people go to farmer’s markets, and what they’re looking for. Fresh produce usually tops the list of most popular items, but things like crafts, baked goods, and other handmade items are always popular.
Photo by Jordan Christian
If you’re considering starting a farmer’s market booth, you have to think of yourself and your booth as a business. That requires a lot of pre-planning, marketing, and understanding your target audience. If that sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, you’re the boss. But, if you want to be successful with your market endeavors, there are a few things to keep in mind and a few mistakes to avoid.
Let’s cover some tips you can use for starting a farmer’s market booth so you can make a profit and enjoy the experience.
Plan Ahead and Develop a Strategy
Before you officially set up a booth, do your research. Planning ahead will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. It can even inspire you to try different things to attract the attention of your audience. Not sure where to get started? Try some of the following as you research for your booth:
- Visit other farmer’s markets
- Write down what stands out to you
- Learn the rules of different markets
- Talk to other vendors
Once you’ve done your research, decide how you want your booth to operate. Will you have to hire additional staff or will you run it on your own? What do you want to sell? It’s only when you have all of those questions answered and you have a strategy in place that you should apply to your local farmer’s market. Different markets have their own guidelines, and you might be accepted right away or you may have to go through an interview process. Be prepared to answer questions about your business and what you plan on selling.
Decide on Your Inventory
If you want to become a vendor at a farmer’s market, you probably already have something in mind that you want to sell. But, deciding on your inventory is about more than just having a niche. Every time you set up your booth, you should be thinking about how your inventory is displayed. Some tips to keep in mind include:
- Showcasing the best-looking items up front
- Setting out free samples (if you’re selling food)
- Adding other decorations to your booth/table
- Showing examples of how your items can be used
A poor display can seriously hurt your sales. Even if you have the freshest produce, the biggest eggs, or the best bread at the market, good merchandising matters. Plus, unless you have an incredibly unique product, you’re probably not going to be the only one at the market selling certain items. Sometimes, setting out your inventory in just the right way can make all the difference when it comes to “beating” your competition.
If you really want to look professional and create a display that stands out, focus on the importance of branding. You might benefit from hiring a graphic designer or web designer to help you visualize your brand, so you can become a memorable staple of your local market and beyond.
Of course, when you decide to turn your endeavor into a brand, the next step is to think about marketing.
Manage Your Marketing
Marketing a farmer’s market booth? Absolutely!
Your goal in starting a booth might be to show off your perfect produce or the best-baked goods in the county. But, you still want to make a profit. Since markets tend to have a lot of competition, marketing is a key factor in making your inventory more visible well beyond your booth.
Your marketing efforts can be as simple as visual branding at your booth. Try to include a variety of things that display who you are, including:
- Print-outs and hand-outs
- Graphics and signage
- Logos on packaging
The human brain is hardwired to pay attention to visuals. Up to 80% of all external input is processed through the brain’s visual pathway. The way you brand yourself with visuals at your booth will make you stand out in the market, but if you take those visual efforts to a website and social media pages, your small business will continue to grow and become more popular each week.
Your branding strategy should also be a representation of who you want to be, as a business. That includes how you choose to interact with customers. If you want to engage your customers, be empathetic to their needs. They’re coming to your booth because they consider you to be an expert in whatever you’re selling. Give them information, answer questions, and be sure your focus is solely on them. The attitude you take with customers might not seem like a marketing technique, but it builds onto what your brand represents and what people can expect from you.
No matter how big or popular a market is, there’s always room for more. If you want to start a farmer’s market booth, keep these tips in mind. They can help you get started on the right foot while getting the support you need along the way.