Every farmers market has its own personality and style. When you are searching for a new opportunity to showcase your culinary creations and food and beverage products, make sure you understand your options, the potential consumers with which you will engage, and the opportunities to grow your business and sell your goods. Take time to meet one-on-one with consumers and talk about your products. Use farmers markets to engage with the community, while increasing product promotion and sales. Read below to learn how to make the most of your farmers market experiences.
“Choose your farmers market with the same level of research you would for a brick and mortar location.” — Steve Hillyer, Journal Square Green Market
Tip #1. Do Your Research. The right product at the wrong market, will not be profitable. Be deliberate about the market in which you choose to participate. To find the right market, it’s important to spend time investigating the best place to sell your food products. Be sure to visit several markets and ask yourself these questions before making a decision:
When does the market take place?
Who are the regular market shoppers? What are their general demographics? Will my products appeal to them?
Where is the market located? How do potential customers get to the market? Are they walking by after getting off of the train, playing with their children in a nearby park, or do they drive to reach the market?
How many vendors will be there? What they are selling? How will your product fit into the mix?
What is the anticipated attendance?
“Be prepared and organized.” — Rachel Sieg, HDSID Jersey City Farmers' Market
Tip #2. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Create a checklist of everything you need to set up your space in an efficient, exciting, and profitable way. The specific items you need to properly set up your space will depend on the products you are offering. Here are some other recommendations that will help keep you organized:
Plan for set up and breakdown times.
Look up the directions to the event. Find out where you can load and unload your vehicle and the best place to park.
Be sure to obtain any certifications, insurance, permits, and licenses that are required by your municipality for participation well in advance of the event date.
Find out if you need to provide your own canopy or tent, tables and chairs, or if the event coordinators supply them for you.
Find out if electricity will be available or if you will need to bring a generator.
If you are cooking on site, find out if open flames or gas appliances are allowed. Also, find out if you can keep food warm with sternos, if necessary.
“I advise entrepreneurs to show up. Every week.” — Lorette Pruden, Montgomery Friends Farmers Market
Tip #3. Be Consistent. Selling your food products at the same markets each week will be the key to building and growing your business. Ask to be placed in the same location so your customers can easily find you, and begin to look for you. Note selling trends from week to week so that you understand what your customers buy on a regular basis, and so you can be sure to have those items on hand each week. This consistency will allow you to develop a relationship with consumers and will keep them coming back to purchase your product.
“Be sure to make yourself familiar with the New Jersey Sanitation Code read Chapter 24: Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines.” —Robert Meier, Hawthorne Farmers Market
Tip #4. Make Food Safety a Priority. As a food business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that you and everyone on your team is trained in proper food safety practices. Your ultimate goal is to prevent food borne illness. Follow these basic tips:
Make sure that you are properly trained by obtaining a food safety certification
Purchase food from approved, reputable suppliers
Determine what supplies you need to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold
Be sure that your staff has somewhere to wash their hands and that they are using gloves properly when serving ready-to-eat food.
“Promote the markets you are in as well as your fellow farmers and vendors. Bring your customers and your friends. To boil it down, help the market help you.” — Lorette Pruden, Montgomery Friends Farmers Market
Tip #5. Promote Your Presence. Make sure your customers know where to find you. Promote the farmers markets that you are participating in by making announcements on social media and posting the events on your website. Be sure to include images of the food that you sell as well as those of your fellow vendors. This is a great way to promote other vendors and the market overall. A well-attended market is good for your business and the other businesses, as well.