Tips for Farmers’ Market Vendors

Posted on Thursday 20 May 2010

Spring is here and summer’s not far behind. So, foodies and farmers alike are gearing up for the growth of new produce. With the blooming of squash blossoms comes the booming of Farmers’ Markets. As a Farmers’ Market vendor here are some ideas for attracting customers and increasing sales.

Communicate Important Info In Your Signage
An attractive, professional sign draws attention and people to your stand, reinforces your legitimacy and trustworthiness and provides useful information. For instance, is your produce organic? Answering the question before they ask it saves you time, helps market your product and justifies your pricing. Most importantly, not all shoppers have the inclination to ask questions so you’ll gain customers that otherwise might have just walked on by. Also, be sure to visibly label prices on your products or on clear signage next to your products. Items without prices don’t sell.

Impress With Your Presentation
People definitely judge a book by its cover. Simple things like tablecloths, baskets and placing canned or jarred goods on tiers make a huge difference in how people think about you than if you just have products on a card table. Take care to think through all the details: where should you place your best selling products, what height should your table be, how will you handle any spills. Perfecting your presentation will give you an edge over many of your neighboring vendors—especially those selling similar products.

Lure Customers In With Free Samples
There is no better way to sell your products than by having people taste them and, unlike other venues, Farmers’ Markets allow you that opportunity. It helps familiarize customers with your products and gives you the opportunity to engage them in conversation. (Also- there’s the guilt factor. A lot of people feel guilty taking free things without buying something in return). Develop relationships with fellow vendors and cross-promote. If you sell olive oil, strike up a trade with a bread vendor. This way you each have appropriate products for serving samples and can promote each other’s products.

Make Them Love You/Know Your Products
You must, must, must be personable. People often go to Farmers’ Markets initially for higher quality of product, but they keep going back because of the experience. Developing relationships with your customers is the best way to ensure returning business. Along that line, be sure to staff your table with people who know your products: how they taste, how they’re grown or produced, their shelf life, why they’re special, and most importantly, creative ways to use them. This goes for unfamiliar products like crosnes (a rare tuber) as well as more everyday veggies like zucchini.

Price What Your Worth
Don’t be afraid to charge more for a better product. Is it organic? Charge for it. Is your beef grass-fed instead of grain-fed? Charge for it. But, give your customer deals when it’s called for. If you have an abundance of product, lowering the price will help you get rid of it and make your customers happy. Offer bulk prices when appropriate and adjust price when called for, such as a bruised piece of fruit.

Give Takeaway Materials
By the time a customer gets home, there’s a good chance they’ve already forgotten where they bought that bag of produce from. Want them to come back? Want them to tell their friends? Give promotional materials away with purchases and have them set up on your table so interested people can pick up as they walk by. Again, the more professional, well written and well designed the piece, the better impression the recipient will have of you. Fliers, brochures or just small cards are all good. But the best items are  recipe cards—because that’s something people may keep and use again. Be sure to include your website, address and phone number on all materials so they’ll always know how to contact you.

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