Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    22
  • comments
    16
  • views
    597

Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 5

Sign in to follow this  
Darby Simpson

127 views

This article will wrap up the series on Farmer’s Markets which has covered the Market Master, location, timing of the market and how you can research a market before taking the plunge.  Today I’ll focus on how you know it’s time to pull the plug as well as some additional thoughts on markets in general.

Lets face it:  Not every market is going to work out. That has been the case for us and the reasons for leaving have been various.  If all you hear is price, price, price, price….you are at the wrong market and need to make a change.  We were once recruited to a mid size market of about 35 vendors on the Northwestside of Indy and it appeared to be a perfect fit for us.

There were two things in particular that really drew my attention to this market: 

First they did not have a steady meat vendor, which meant that while this was a smaller pond, we would be the only fish in that pond.  Second, this particular suburb has the highest income per capita in the state of Indiana!  And to polish it all off, we had a few customers on that edge of town that wanted us there as well. What could go wrong?  Well, as it turned out there was plenty to go wrong.

The first issue we ran into were the sales hours, as the market was only open for three hours each Saturday.  If you spend all that time to pack, drive, setup, tear down, drive home and unpack you want as much time under that tent each week as possible.  Three hours cut our sales by potential by 25% right from the get go.  We knew going in that this could be an issue but we proceeded on anyhow.

Also, the market didn’t start until mid May and wrapped up at the end of September.  Most Saturday markets in our area run from the first week of May thru the end of October, giving you a full six months of sales at that market.  This compliments our winter market time frame nicely and keeps us in front of customers 50 out of 52 Saturday’s per year.  But this scheduling structure cut the length of the sales season by 25%!

Next, the city owned the lot that the market operated out of and shut down the market about 10:00 a.m. once per month for a festival, carnival, parade, etc so that they could have the additional parking required for said event.  Every time we turned around, our potential sales hours were nibbled away until there was so little left that it simply didn’t make the effort worthwhile.

Lastly, and we could have never seen this coming, all we heard up there was how we were more expensive than Kroger and Marsh Supermarkets.  Seriously, this city is loaded with wealthy business people who easily have the means to support local food but just chose not too.  And in addition to this curve-ball, what we witnessed once there was that this was a social gathering and not a shopping excursion.  Ladies dressed to the nines came out and bought cut flowers, a bag of pasta, and a couple tomatoes while drinking a cup of coffee and eating a danish.  They weren’t there for real food, that simply wasn’t the culture and I wasn’t about to stick around to try and change that.

It was blatantly obvious that the market leadership had no desire to move the location, change the hours or fix any of the other issues we discovered.  Even though we did our due diligence in research, or so we thought, sometimes you just hit a dud.  If you find this to be the case, don’t be afraid to finish up your commitment and simply find a new market to do the following year.  If it is really terrible, then consider pulling out immediately if you can get into another market mid season.  You just never now until you try and again, if you don’t fail here and there then you probably aren’t trying hard enough.

You may also find yourself wondering if a once good farmers market is worth continuing to attend if you see a major drop in sales due to mismanagement, a change of venue, over crowding of similar products you are selling, etc.  Just about the time you get things figured out, things change and this can happen for the worse.  You’ll need to continually reassess your options and how your existing markets are doing in order to remain profitable and viable.  Marketing is a fluid and moving target and you have change with the times to stay ahead of the curve.

Some additional considerations:

Only you will be able to decide for yourself what the allowable travel time is to a farmers market to make it worth your while to attend.  But it is my opinion that even if you have to drive one and a half hours each way (or more) you can probably justify the time spent for a good farmers market.  You will also want to find out what insurance requirements you need to meet in order to sell at a particular market, and what permits might be required by the city or county in which it is located in.  Know that at many markets in our litigation happy society you can’t sell if you don’t have liability insurance for not only yourself, but for the market entity as well.  The market master should be able to easily answer all of these questions for you.

Also, ask what the fees are for a booth space on a weekly and seasonal basis and don’t let a bigger number scare you.  Often times, you get what you pay for!  If a market only charges $50 for an entire season, expect $50 worth of management and marketing in return!  If they charge $350-$500 for the season, then ask how those funds are allocated.  The markets we attend use those funds to hire a part time market master that does a great job of managing the market and all of its functions which in the end benefit our business and bottom line greatly.  They also use a lot of those funds for advertising and marketing efforts.  $500 to attend a top-notch market is a drip in the bucket from my perspective, that investment will pay itself back ten fold if it is well run.  It also helps to dissuade the re-sellers and hobbyists from attending, and what you end up with are a solid core of full-time farmers and unique artisan products that draw customers in.

While farmers markets are not for everyone it is absolutely the fastest way for you to come into contact with a great number of consumers who are looking for the type of product you have for sale. This is the best format I’m aware of to build a large customer base that you can market all of your products to through the use of a free email list and a top-notch website.  While farmers markets are not the only means to sell thru, you should give them ample consideration before deciding to pass.  If you want to capture every possible dollar of profit, this is a great way to do just that.

 

The post Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 5 appeared first on Darby Simpson.

 

Sign in to follow this  


0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Our picks

    • I liked this one because the guy actually has a MAG and speaks from experience. For sure I'm one of the guys that pushes hard for a MAG. Probably because I've got a lot going and I'd rather have 500 perennials for five families than the 100 or so we have now. If your in central Canada and don't mind travelling once in a while check out my looking for a MAG post
        • Like
      • 6 replies
    • Today we are creating a two hour long video about how to build a Rocket Oven.  This design is for indoor use although we show versions that have been modified to be weather resistant.  A Rocket Oven will do all of your baking without the environmental disaster associated with natural gas or electric ovens.  For those of you living or considering off grid, this uses fuel that is plentiful and readily found - as opposed to off-grid's dirty little grid secret: "propane".  As an added bonus, the environmental impact is far smaller than any other type of oven.

      Rocket Ovens use the same "engine" as a rocket mass heater.  An  insulated j-tube that pushes the burn temp so high that the smoke and creosote from a fire is also used as fuel.  The exhaust is very clean and the heat is hyper focused on the task at hand.  The designs in this video are "white oven" designs - the exhaust does not mingle with the food.
      • 0 replies
    • That's my great grandfather's barn. Must be over 50yrs old and straight as when it was first built. He helped enough others and built enough community to get this feat done. His kids and even great-grandchildren see this barn and know anything is possible. If he could build this with horses. There are no excuses for any of us.

      That is one of the stories I'm going to outline below. I'm going...
      • 0 replies
    • STANDING RANGERS ORDERS, MAJOR ROBERT ROGERS, 1759
      1. Don't forget nothing.
      2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.
      3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
      4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.
      5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.
      6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.
      7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
      8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
      9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
      10. If we take prisoners, we keep' em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between' em.
      11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.
      12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.
      13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
      14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.
      15. Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.
      16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.
      17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
      18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.
      19. Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.
      • 0 replies
    • How to use Member Maps including adding yourself to the map and choosing which category you would like to drop a marker down on.
      • 0 replies
×