You had an amazing season produced a lot of food at your farm and now want to sell at a local farmers market. They are a great place not only to sell but also to build customer relationships, but how do you get started ?
Increasing your sales at a local farmers market can be achieved with various different tips, for me, it’s important to not fake anything, be completely authentic and real. The tips I offer here are not ways to scam people out of their money, but rather invite them to buy your products. So, how do you increase your sales at a farmers market?
The most important factor in sales at a farmers market is presentation and image customers get when looking at your stand. Getting a good reputation, filling the demands of your community and being authentic all contribute to a good experience at a farmers market.
There are so many factors and tips you can implement to improve your performance at a farmers market, so here I’ll break down the most effective ones.
Take some time to prepare for a market
Preparation can not only save you a lot of time but also help you to achieve a good revenue when participating at a farmers market. It’s a good idea to visit the market you are going to sell your produce beforehand, to get a good picture of what is offered, what is demanded and if there is an overabundance of one specific item.
With all this information you can target your stand to suit the customer base of this specific market and be much more successful.
Another important part of good preparation is checking if you packed all the items and equipment, this step is very important if you want a smooth running business. Later I will cover why it is so important to have all your equipment ready and not rely on improvising.
Knowing your stands location and the vendors around your stand is another important step before selling on a market for the first time. You can adjust your products according to your neighbor vendors and prepare a Layout which works with your location on the farmers market.
I’ll cover all this steps in more detail, so let’s first talk about the importance of a good working schedule.
Create a clear working Plan
Most farmers selling at a farmers market do not have a detailed working plan, but in my opinion it is a great investment of time to make one. Just write down a step to step guild (if you want with pictures) to document all the actions you have to do before you can start selling at the market.
This includes packing and loading of your Produce, all the equipment you need to take with you, how you load your truck, and how to build up your stand as well as a good Layout. While this is a lot of work to put together, it’s only a one time investment. Afterwards you have a detailed plan of everything you have to do before a market, which will help you to deal more efficiently with problems should they arise.
Another great advantage of this manual is if you decide to hire a vendor for your booth. You don’t have to take a lot of time to explain anything and the manual will help your new vendor if a problem comes up. All this ensures you have a much easier time during the preparation and market phase.
So now let’s get started with the Tips to improve your income at a farmers market. There are a lot of great Tips regarding this topic, so I made a collection of the ones which, in my opinion, work the best.
Appearance is the most important part of your farmers market booth, it’s essential to present yourself in a good and convincing way. A better presentation on your side will increase the chance for a visitor to become a customer. So how do improve the appearance of a stand ?
Build an inviting stand
One way to improve your overall sales at a farmers market is to increase the amount of visitors to your booth. Building an inviting stand can help you get a lot more potential customers.
There are a lot of ways to make your booth more inviting and most of the points to come also make your stand much more attractive. One basic trick to have a more inviting booth is to display your product along the Pathways, most people don’t like entering a narrow aisle just to get to your products and will just walk past your stand.
The Feeling of the customers is another very important factor to consider when building a very inviting Layout, try to lure them in, by showing your best products in the front. Always create a nice display out of your products and consider offering freebies to get more customers to your booth.
Decorate your Table
Using blank tables is a very fast way to create an unattractive atmosphere. Covering your Tables with a Table cloth or Burlap will make your stand look much more appealing and inviting.
It’s important to create a very visually appealing display of your products, and the Table is a very big and overlooked part of this. One proverb that stuck with me is “People first taste and buy the products with their eyes” so just stacking up your produce on a table isn’t good enough, I really like to get a traditional theme going, it works very well with fresh veggies.
Have a clean outfit and appearance
You are also a big part of your booth, so having a good looking and simple outfit is very important. Some farmers go for the dirt “fresh from the field” look and it works very well, depending on the person and the image associated with them.
Going for a more neutral approach, like jeans and a
Make your Produce look good
The most important parts of your booth
Use the colors of your Produce
Fruits and Veggies naturally have a nice array of different colours, use this to your advantage and arrange them in a very pleasant way. Mixing up the colours is much better then grouping all the colours together, because it will look very boring and monotonous.
Create a varied display of colours to keep your customers interested and use contrasting colours to your advantage.
Show of your best Products
You need to show off the best you can offer, using good looking goods to lure your customers in is a great way to get a higher sales rate.
Really use your best products, display them in the centre or front places, advertise them with big signs and direct a lot of attention to this product. Not all customers will buy your displayed item in the end, but they might pick up something else while they were checking out your nice looking Apples.
Pile it high and watch it fly
Another trick to increase sales is to show abundance. That doesn’t mean you really have to bring an endless amount of goods with you, just build a Layout consisting out of piles and stacks.
Rather than leaving huge free areas on multiple tables try to use the space as efficient as possible. Sometimes it’s worth to reduce your available area to get things closer together.
You can also use spacing to your advantage and build bigger stack with less products by leaving space between your goods, this will maintain an image of abundance with much less products.
Check your Products & keep them fresh
Regularly check your products and only keep the fresh looking ones on display. This tip is extremely important at markets with long open times, nothing makes a customer leave your booth faster than a rotten tomato or some other bad looking veggie.
It might look like you waste a lot by sorting out less attractive crops, but in total your sales will increase. In the end you will not sell bad looking veggies and fruits anyway, except there is a very high demand for that item.
Spray a thin water sheet on your Products
To prevent many of your vegetables from wilting spray a thin sheet of water on them. This will keep them fresh and also make them look more appealing to customers. It’s quite easy to do, doesn’t take much time but makes a big difference in total sales at
Combine the spraying process with the checking of your goods and you can even save some more time.
Have a clear label design and price
One huge mistake on farmers markets is to hide your prices. Communicate very clearly how much you want for each item using a good looking sign or a chalkboard.
Many Customers will look through your goods and will leave if they don’t know the price of an item. It’s important to remember that just a very small minority will ask for the price. They don’t want to take up your time just to tell you that the item is to expensive, so they don’t ask in the first place.
Keep your prices consistent, don’t offer a new price for each customer, otherwise you will lose a lot of money and people who paid more will feel ripped off.
Consolidate down as time goes on
It’s important to keep the image of abundance going, even towards the end of the market day. One easy way to do that, is to simply remove some of your tables or using the space less efficient, so it still looks like you have a lot of products to sell, even when you slowly running out.
Present yourself in a consistent way
It’s important to keep a consistent presentation. Selling on the same market for multiple times will require you to use the same good working Layout every time. This way people will start to feel more attracted to your booth and your sales will go up over time.
This strategy is used by most supermarkets worldwide, and one of the reasons why they are so successful.
Make your stand unique
Make your booth stand out from the rest is another good way to win the interest of many customers. It’s hard to find a good middle ground between being unique and overdoing it, but your sales will have a huge jump once you find your balance.
Have a signature Item
Having a signature Item is very important to get the word of mouth going on a market. This item is most of the time the best product you offer, and displayed in the center of your booth so most people can associate you with this item.
Having a signature Item will help other people to advertise your stand, so you will have a lot more customers. It’s important to produce a lot of your signature Item once you are known for it.
Make special offers
Offering a discount on quantity is another good way to increase total sales. Selling 1 item at 4$ each and 2 at 6/7$ will increase the chance of bigger sales with each customer.
You can also start to prepare a “one of all basket” or some other combination items, I really like to combine a recipe with all the needed ingredients in a basket and offer a ready to cook bundle for a special price.
Offer Samples when possible
Samples is another good way to get customers interested in your booth. They also will increase the chance of them buying something in exchange for the free gift. I really like giving out free samples, but some places have very tight regulations. If you want to give free samples call your organizer beforehand and ask if you need any specific permits in your area.
Building good customer Relationships
Another big part of selling at a farmers market is the direct contact with your customers. It’s important to develop a good relationship with your customers, so they come back or even bring along some friends.
Build personal customer relationships
It’s very important to build a strong relationship between you and your customers. One way to make people feel at home at your stand is to remember their names. This will help to generate a much closer relationship when compared to “you”.
Treat your customers well, they should be like your friends and not just a quick exchange of money.
Sell your or your products story
One great way to build a good relationship fast is to tell either your story or the story of your products. I prefer telling my story and show the story of my products with signs and pictures.
This is the most effective way to create a good trust between you and your customer in a very short time. There are some other approaches to build a good basic trust, but in my opinion this is the easiest, most efficient way.
Be open and talkative
Being talkative is a skill you have to learn when working as a vendor at a farmers market. It’s very important to be open, friendly and generally a good chat while selling your goods on a market.
This skill is essential to selling at markets, consider hiring a vendor if you don’t like to interact with people. I think this is actually the hardest part about selling at a farmers market costing by far the most energie.
Stand up and be engaged
Sitting down or looking grumpy is the best way to keep customers away. You have to be engaged during the whole time selling at a farmers market if you start to feel tired take a short break behind the booth.
Sitting down will run the risk of people just skipping your stand altogether diminishing the chance of a sale.
Make eye contact and greet everyone
Another reason to stand up the whole time is to keep eye contact. Failing to do so will massively hinder the relationship between you and the customer.
Being enthusiastic and greeting people will be very inviting for many, you also started a conversation that way and it’s much easier to start building a relationship with the visitors of your booth.
Answer Questions while Selling
Another important skill when working on a farmers market is multitasking. Some customers will want to ask you questions, which is great to improve the relationship but you still have to continue selling on the side.
If you only focus on answering the question you might miss some customers, which will also lead to a bad image, so better learn to do both at the same time.
Offer uses for your products
Show your customers uses for your products, visualizing the use of your goods will greatly increase the chance of a sale. Just hang up or hand out a couple recipes (with pictures) you really like, fitting to the goods you sell.
Learn Body language mirroring
This practice can help you to build a good relationship much quicker. Body language mirroring is just adjusting your own body language to the people you are talking to. Mastering this skill will help you in many aspects of life, so it’s good to start learning and using this skill as much as possible.
The most basic version of this method is to only separate energetic and calm people and mirror your body language accordingly.
Learn how to interest people in your products
Learning how to get others interested in your products is a very important skill to have and takes a lot of time to master.
There is not one right way to do this just keep experimenting until you find something that works for you and your items. Most of the time having a nice looking booth and presenting yourself in a good manner is enough, but occasionally you can earn an extra dollar if you know how to interest people for other items.
Work with other Vendors
Other Vendors at a farmers market are not your enemies but rather friends, so working together can benefit both of you equally. It really depends on the goods you and your neighbour stand sell, but if you, for example, sell tomatoes and your neighbour different kinds of herb-salts working together will benefit both of you.
Smooth customer flow
Keep it smooth, it’s important that you serve your customers fast and efficient. Don’t let a big line pile up, because long waiting time will push away a lot of customers and getting called “that stand with the long waiting time” is just killing customer interest.
Some more interesting Tips
So here I just collected some Tips, which are very helpful but don’t belong in the first two categories. I think out of all the Tips these are the fastest to implement and can have a huge effect on your farmers market expirience.
Selling Baby Vegetables
So this can either work really well or not at all, I think just giving it a go with small quantities of baby vegetables might be worth it to test the demand at your location.
The advantages of Baby vegetables are plenty, they are smaller, lighter, faster to grow, and more lucrative. But are not always demanded, it’s hard to predict if it’s worth to switch to baby veggies, but sometimes it can boost your income by a lot without any extra effort.
Charging for each and not for weight
Charging by the amount and not by weight is another way to earn a lot more money depending on your products and interest in your market. Not charging by weight gives you the freedom to bundle together your crops as you see fit, helping you to sell both less good looking products and special items like baby vegetables to a fair price without complicated signage.
Take more than you need
It’s important to take more than just the bare minimum with you to each market, I know it’s very annoying to have a lot of leftovers after a market. But if you run out of some items of your stand starts to look a bit sold out you will lose a lot of potential customers, which in itself is something we want to avoid at all cost.
Also accept Credit cards
Taking Credit cards has two big advantages, customers will be able to make bigger purchases without having to think about the amount of cash they have left. And second, it will open up a whole new customer base, because more and more people do not carry any cash and will therefore only buy at booth which do accept cards.
Accepting Credit cards has one big downside, you do have to pay a fee for every transaction, which will cut some of your income, but in the end I often find the increase in sales from accepting cards is much higher than the total fee.
Increase sales over time
Picking up good traffic, building a trustworthy customer base and creating your own imprint at a farmers market all take time. I honestly think with enough effort you will find huge success at any farmers market, but don’t expect any over-night miracles.
There are a lot of important aspects to increase your success at a market, but you will start to see more and more people will be interested in your products if you handle everything properly.
You sometimes will have a bad day at the market but don’t let that demotivate you, it’s important to keep an eye on the long-term trend and see a good customer base grow with the time.
Advertise your farm during a farmers market
The last advise I want to leave you with is: Advertise your farm, you already have a lot of people, who are interested in your products at a farmers market. So why not use the opportunity and invite them to your farm, or offer them to deliver fresh crops every week and put together a delivery list. There are so many great ways to make use of these oppertunity, so don’t miss it!