Is this your first time as a vendor at a farmers market?
Participating in a farmers market is an exciting, dynamic, enriching experience, but it is different than other methods of sales. If you haven’t sold at a farmers market before, it’s a good idea to start by doing some basic research on farmers markets!
- Visit at least three farmers markets.
- Notice the differences and the similarities.
- Keep this in mind as you decide whether the Hollywood Farmers Market is the right market for you to attend as a vendor.
What do customers enjoy about shopping at farmers markers?
Quality is your most important competitive advantage!
- Product is harvested at the peak of perfection
- Best varieties are selected for taste and appearance
- Product is clean, and are beautifully displayed
2. Uniqueness, personal interaction
Consider what sets you apart from other vendors and producers, and then share that with your customers!
- What do you love about your products?
- What do you grow best and love the most?
- How do you use you products?
- Do you have products that no one else has?
- What special knowledge can your customers get from you and you only?
At Market Tips
Check out our Market Checklist to make sure you are prepared for a day at market!
Read our Merchandising 101, to learn how to create the Most Beautiful Booth at the Market.
Staffing the Booth
- Having one person working in your booth is good, but more than two is usually too many.
- Never leave your booth unattended.
- Take a break and walk around the market when it’s slow. Ask a volunteer to fill in if you are by yourself.
- If you have extra people, put them out front as greeters or to offer samples.
- Always face the customers, even when chatting with your partners.
- Wear clean, tidy clothes to market. Consider wearing an apron!
- Look and be cheerful. If you aren’t a “people person,” consider having another person from your business staff your market stall.
Shade and Coolers
- Pay attention to where the sun is going to be, and arrange your stall accordingly.
- If you don’t have enough shade for everything, put the most sensitive products in the shadiest spots
- Put out small quantities of any products which will wilt. Keep the rest in coolers with ice. Customers love products which just came out of the cooler!
- Have side panels for your canopy for rainy or windy days.
How much product should you bring?
- Only experience can answer this question
- You never want to sell out! (You also don’t want to have a lot of unsold product left over at the end of the day)
- Full, abundant tables are the most attractive to customers.
- Keep records of what you take to the market and what is left at the end. Don’t forget to note what you have donated to the Gleaners.
Pricing & Communicating Prices
- Have a price tag for every product, and make sure the tag stays with the product
- Don’t put items with different prices in the same basket–it’s confusing.
- People will rarely ask for the price. If they can’t tell immediately what the price is,, they are unlikely to buy the product.
How to determine what price to charge customers?
- Feel confident that your product is the best available and you can charge accordingly.
- Don’t devalue your hard work: you need to cover your expenses, pay yourself, and make a profit
- Pay a visit to the grocery store and see what they are charging for similar products
- Find out what other vendors are charging. Don’t undercut them.
- Avoid lowering prices at the end of the market (you will teach customers bad habits).
- It can be a good strategy to offer a bargain (or a bonus product) for a large purchase.
Handling the Money
- Bring adequate change – usually at least $100 – in fives, ones, and coins
- Consider pricing in nothing smaller than quarters.
- Consider pricing items per unit (per bunch or per pint), to make it easier for shoppers to determine prices. This is especially helpful for market shoppers who may be shopping with tokens or vouchers.
- Sampling is a great way to engage your customers, and is part of the fun of dynamic market experience.
- It is essential that you follow the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s rules for safe sampling.
- Use your handwashing station frequently to keep your hands clean, and don’t be the one to handle the money if you are offering samples. Make sure to bring your own trashcan if your sampling will be generating waste (ie toothpicks).
- If you have unusual products, be prepared to explain what they are and how to use them. Recipe cards are a great idea, or a website with recipes and links to more information.
- Be ready to describe your farming practices. Don’t say you are organic until you are certified organic, but explain that you use natural fertilizer and/or no spray. You can say that your farm has applied for organic certification and that you expect to get it soon. When you do get it, make sure the customers know.
- Be ready with an answer if a customer asks why your prices are higher than the grocery store.
- If your market has cooking demonstrations, donating your product can be a great way to highlight your product.
- Be prepared to explain the qualities of different varieties. If a customer asks which is the best, encourage them to try them all so they can decide which they like best!