Farm Market Entrepreneurship 101
We have been selling Beary Good Stuff at the local Market for the last 4 years. I thought it would be:
- You MAKE a product.
- You TAKE it to the Farm market.
- You SELL the Product.
- You TAKE home the Money,
I was WRONG! First, you have to decide:
- Am I a Crafter?
- Am I a Producer?
- Am I a reseller?
- Am I selling a product that I grow?
- Am I doing some of the above?
All of the above are allowed at Public Markets, but 3 of the above are allowed at FARM Markets.
Knowing how different markets operate, is the first thing to knowing if you can sell what you do at the local market.
First – Find out what kind of market is in your area? Do they belong to a Province or State Farm Market Association? If so, re-sellers are NOT allowed. Resellers sell a product through a franchise, or purchase something and sell it (unchanged) at the market. If you grow, make or significantly alter something, then you may be eligible to apply to your local market.
Second – Will the market you choose to sell at, have enough customers interested in your product? Vegetables and other produce, farm products such as eggs and meat are what draws people to a market. If your product is a secondary product (such as plants, pickles, jams, jellies, breads, and sausage) you too will have a product that market goers are coming to get. Crafts, including wool and fabric arts, jewelry and ceramics are extras. The more people selling these, the less money each individual seller will make.
Third – Market Management. Do the regular market people have the same spot from market to market? Are the Food people kept together? (eg. bakers and jammers) Are the Produce and Plants kept together? The crafters, or are they interspersed? Markets where there is some order always have more sales. There is less friction between the marketers.
Fourth – No matter where you go, all markets have politics. The people who have been there for years and years will always want things to remain the same as they have always been, no matter when the market starts (for example, early spring) and when they actually start selling their wares at the market (for example 4 weeks later) . They want their “spot” no matter how it can affect the flow and sales of all the other vendors or making the vendors who have started the season and come to all the markets.
Fifth – You. Are you adaptable? Can you get along with opinionated people? Most people who are self employed are stubborn and jump to viewpoints. When you get a bunch of them together at a market, the sparks can fly! If you can remember that the other vendors share these traits with you, step back and take a deep breath before saying anything, you are on your way to a successful season.
Sixth – Yes, others will be selling a similar product. How are their products different? We sell artisan preserves. All of our products are different from what you would normally expect to find (eg. Blueberry Garlic Jelly), there are always other vendors selling preserves. We get to know who sells what and what their offerings are, when somebody wants something we don’t sell (for example, Blueberry Jam) we send them to those who do. They get more sales and they send those that want something more exotic our way. We both get more sales. However, it takes work on the part of both vendors to go realize this kind of relationship works for the betterment of both.
Let me know if you are interested in hearing more about how to become a Market Entrepreneur!
I am leaving you with a picture I took at the Friday Market in Grand Forks. The vendor behind me was Avalon Nursery. She had the most incredible bedding plants and the Butterfly agreed.