Return to site

Selling at A Farmers Market

Is the South Common Famers Market right for you?

Farmers Markets are busy, loud, often early-morning community gatherings. We like to be a little different and open from 10am-4 pm and you need to be prepared for a full day and lots of conversation!

Our managers, are vendors and are there just like you working just as hard to build the market up to the next level each year. Often consciously they cultivate a feeling of ‘busy-ness,’ fullness, and positive attitudes amongst both the other vendor and customers alike.

Our outdoor market has a vision to become something amazing and we are also working on becoming an all year round market in the near future. Never again to be victim to the weather which seems to be more of a challenge for some early spring openings, and late season falls of Alberta. Some vendors find it unbearable the weather issues, but than for others it's no big deal just the Alberta climate we know love and are used to living in , so assess your comfort level with working outside in the rain, wind and cold.

The Farmers markets can be physically demanding as you need to load and unload your product. You need to be able to stand for long periods of time, but bring what you need to be comfortable like a chair, a friend to release you for short breaks and a smile. (you will sell more if you stand, rather than sit, behind your booth).

Markets require you to be sociable and have an outgoing attitude as a vendor, and to respect the fellow vendors patrons and the rules established by your market. Make sure you can confidently say that these parameters suit you as a person.

Expect unpredictability & fluctuations... (give it a fair timeline minimum 8 week commitment)

To really know how the market will be for your product(s), from a day to day experience new vendors need to set realistic targets and understand there is an ebb and flow to the revenue stream. Vendors endlessly discuss these realities, there are peaks and valleys among everyones stories. The most commonly-heard phrases will be “So, how was your day?". Some weeks you may be elated in celebrating your success and other weeks, you will fall short of those results wanted. At some point, every vendor has to review the products left at the end of market day, and wondering how to recover the loss for that week. Vendors should be focused on revenue trends over time, rather than fixating on the weekly sales, look at monthly goals and annual targets. Even though you will likely gain skills that help moderate some of this variation, sales will never be predictable or certain.

Building relationships & creating loyal customers...

Relationships with your market and customers take time to build. Sales are dependent upon these relationships, so don’t give up too early. Don't sell yourself short and the farm/business is much more than just a product. Apples are apples are apples, but the people selling apples differ and your job is to share your ‘story’ so people want to buy your apples to be part of your story. How you like them apples! So relationship marketing is a key part of the easy as pie magic. It takes time for you to become part of the web of stories at a given farmers’ market. To be successful at a farmers’ market, the collaboration, support of each other, the tapestry of things to see and buy, everyones fans comes together cooperatively helping each other succeed, believe it-you need to take the time to invest in becoming part of this farmer market ‘family.’

Do something different and be WOW...

Hard to be different is what many people might think, but on the other hand, everyones has a story that is uniquely your own. In this day and age, setting yourself apart is proving difficult. Increasingly, those one-of-a-kind products are possibly available from other vendors and/or stores. You might share and tell your customers about the benefits of a product because of the results and what inspired you to offer the product, or something compelling about your business or farm. Anything that ultimately differentiates your product(s) from that of other vendors or stores. Another idea for setting yourself apart from other farmers' market vendors in the food producers catagory is to create seasonal and reason(al) buying. 

Mothers day surprise, Fathers day gift ideas, Canada Special, or Food Bundles. Growing the ingredients to make great salsa and timing the harvest of plants so the ingredients ripened at the same time and over an extended period. Food Bundle, include tomatoes varieties, tomatillos, cilantro, onions, mild and hot peppers of different colours and garlic. Selling the salsa kit as a single item for a higher price than if a farmer had sold those same items individually. By providing the recipe and the right amount of each of the ingredients, making it simple for customers to go right home and make fabulous salsa. They will say WOW!! 

Your saving them from having to shop for ingredients, then the weighing and measuring which was all done for them! All they had to do was put the contents of their carton together according to a simple recipe feeling like they created something and especially if the had the chance to taste the freshness of the salsa market sample. Think outside of the box, or think what people would appreciate or want that can make you stand out to be memorable.(bringing people to your booth). Food bundles are just one idea or concept it could be developed for in-season jams, soups, stews, pickles, pastas, casseroles and other dishes. Bundle your ingredients, bundle gifts, bundle baking like a baking exchange and sell them together with nice packaging and/or simple recipes.

Become ‘famous’ at the market for what you do, which will translate into more sales.

A simple merchandising to entice...

Keep it abundant, keep it consistent, keep it friendly. We could give a great deal of information about how best to set up a display. Advice varies, but a great deal of it is the importance of organization and presentation. Warning against selling out of cardboard boxes, and we suggest some attention to details will benefits sales. The use of great signage, attractive containers, baskets and even the perfect tablecloth or props will ‘pull it all together' and affect the lookers into buyers. A lot of this is great advice needs to be considered from the professionals. Even with all this sage advise and ideas to look apealling however, we have seen businesses selling out of cardboard boxes on a coverless table with handwritten price signs as trustworthy consumers like the no-fuss, plain-jane, barebones approach to merchandising too. Fancy doesn’t necessarily correlate with success. High-gloss retail merchandising techniques don’t always translate well at the market. Fancy doesn’t necessarily correlate with success. If you keep your booth full of product, the consistent look week after week and friendly feeling, you'll be successful regardless of the frills. Even if merchandising isn’t your calling, you can still be successful if you keep the focus on abundance, consistency and friendliness. Ultimately, the quality of your product and the story of your farm or business will do more to attract loyal customers than whether you use a wicker or a plastic container. Studies show that consumers are looking for an alternative to the store values when they go to a market. Trust your gut when it comes to merchandising at the market, less can be more if you want it to be.

Work with your managers because they are invested in you succeeding and building the markets growth...

Managers have to wear many hats. Most market managers are incredibly passionate about their work and many put in long hours for low pay with very little support. They have to deal with so many peoples needs and all the public as well, shoppers expectations, while staying professional, being communicators, event planners, fundraisers, problem solvers and site managers all while helping you make a living as a vendor.

The passion and commitment of the managers is an asset to you as a vendor, and I encourage you to tap into it. These Managers are here to help you, and if you need information or guidance, ask your manager.

The relationship between vendors and the market manager can contribute to the overall vibe of a farmers’ market. The positive energy and our collective vision shared, we encourages vendors to take the initiative to make that relationship as full and mutually-rewarding as it can be.

Being a successful market vendor takes time, patience, and love for what you do.

There are many people wanting to build meaningful relationships with the individuals who make their food and other local products.

Market vending appeals to you, the "market with heart' invites you to give them a chance.

Get to know us and we are looking forward to knowing you and the amazing work you do!

Most vulnerable to farmers market burning out-

  • new to markets
  • set their revenue goals too high
  • come with too much product
  • assume people will buy their product without having met them before
  • these individuals go home disappointed. 
  • This only needs to happen a couple of times before a vendor gives up.

The best way to build a successful farmers market business is to:

  • start small
  • keep coming back
  • meet the vendors and customers at the market
  • tell the personal story of your business
  • get organized develop your system for transporting and setting up your product
  • bring water and snacks, and prioritize a good night’s sleep the evening before
  • build your relationships with customers and the market 
  • grow your business steadily through those relationships

“Make a detailed checklist of all the things you’ll need that easily get forgotten, such as small bills and coins to make change, weights for your tent in case it gets windy, and even a few extra layers of clothes to prepare for weather changes," says Brian Dahl, Manager of South Common Farmers Market 

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly