Making Money On The Homestead: How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 2


So you've decided to sell products at a Farmer's Market!  Based on our experience and those we've spoken with, you'll have a wonderful time being surrounded by talented and like-minded people.  We went through some of the basic first steps in Part 1 of this 2-part series.  In this post we'll talk about the actual set-up.

My husband and I began selling our Apothecary products, eggs and veggies last year and we've really enjoyed it.  We've become friends with many new people, have a great little following and truly enjoy the vibe of the market and supporting the other vendors.

Once you've gone through the process of determining what you'll sell, have applied and been accepted, now you'll need to think about your booth and placement of products.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're trying to lay it all out:


Get Organized And Stay Organized
Organization will help you tremendously through the processes of loading, transporting, unloading and displaying your products.  When we first started it felt a bit overwhelming the morning of the market.  However, once we developed a rhythm it got much easier.  If you come up with a system in your first couple of weeks and stick with it, you'll find it easier to get out the door in the morning and no forgotten items. 

We designated a bag that always goes with us.  It includes our cash box, calculator, receipt book, notebook {for jotting down special orders and ideas}, pens, credit card reader, phone charger, business cards, brochures, scissors, rubber bands, paperclips, tablecloth weights {farm themed of course...}, banner clips, tape, and our sales certificate.  We re-stock this every Saturday but never actually remove items from the bag, so it's all set to go each week.  We are able to leave our canopy, banner, tables and chairs in our vehicle so we never have to load/unload them.  Sunday morning we simply have to load products, the bag, and our lunch/water/snacks!

Define Your Sales Area
Your booth is your store.  Make sure shoppers know where it begins and ends for ease of shopping.  If you're outside, you'll likely be allowed to put up a canopy.  This is a great way of not only protecting your products from the elements, but also defining your space.  Think about traffic flow and ease of movement for your booth.  The first time you set up your booth, do a pre-market walk through to test out the flow.
You will be challenged by the small space, so will you set up your tables toward the front of your space and allow shoppers to view your products as they walk by?  How about an L-shape with 2 tables?  Or a U-shape with 3 tables?  For our Winter market we went with a straight run of tables because we had to sit at one side or the other.  For our Summer market we are going with a U-shape, inverted, so we can sit on the backside of the center table.  We have a field behind us as opposed to back-to-back vendors making this a great option.


Make Good Use Of Vertical Space
With a smaller footprint, a great way to showcase more products and make your booth look fuller is to add a few vertical elements.  Stacking crates, a small shelving unit, or a wire rack with attached baskets is a nice way of offering products at several levels of view.  Make sure you have your products displayed so all customers can see and reach all products without stretching, bending or stooping.


Label Everything
If you have items that are not labeled they will not sell nearly as fast as those that do.  People do not want to ask prices, rather, they want to evaluate the product and price as they walk through your space.  Whether you use a large sign, small signs {blackboards are great and if you use opaque paint pens for those items whose price doesn't change, you don't have to keep re-writing the sign} or individual tags, try to stay consistent with all products.

Rotate Your Products and Keep Them Well-Stocked
Filling holes as items are purchased will make your booth continue to appear full and attract shoppers.  Rotating products to keep them out of the sun will help them remain healthy looking.

Pricing
This is a balance.  You want to remain competitive with vendors around you, but at the same time have your own control over pricing of your products.  Consider also offering a quantity discount, particularly for those items you have an abundance of.  Additionally, consider a vendor discount.  This helps encourage vendors purchasing from each other and is a nice little "thank you" for their support each week.  And if you are open to bartering with fellow vendors, it's a nice way for each of you try out new products!


Keep Your Products Safe
Coolers with thermometers to gauge temps for eggs and meat are required for food safety.  If these are products you are selling, you'll have to get creative with the signs since your products will not be displayed.  Large, easy-to-read signs with cuts and prices are great for the meat.  Photos of the eggs or of the chickens who have laid them are great visuals for egg sales.

Greens don't need to be refrigerated, but misting them and other veggies from time-to-time, and not tying plastic bags of greens on warm days will help them look nicer and last longer.

Although not required, we keep coolers for our lotions and deodorants as well since the extreme heat or cold will eventually compromise the product.


Develop A Cohesive Look
There's no need to spend a lot of money on this, but instead of throwing a bunch of different containers, coverings, etc. together, decide on a look and stick with it.  Whether it be wood containers/crates with a red tablecloth, metal containers with a black tablecloth or a burlap and wicker basket combo, whatever your look, making it all match brings about a uniform look.

Think also about ease of packing the items when you decide on your look.  Stacking containers, lightweight containers, and items that can easily be transported together will make your set-up and breakdown go faster and smoother.

Offer Exceptional Customer Service
I know this should go without saying, but not using your cell phone when you have customers at your booth and giving them your full attention will go a long way.  Smiling, chatting, being cheerful and knowledgeable about your products are things that will help bring customers back again and again.

Sell Yourself
Customers want to know about you and your business.  Offer brochures, if you can, that they can take with, and/or make a sign that features a description of your farm {location, acres, crops, animals, etc.}, you {the farmers}, and your method of production.  Keep this in an easy-to-read location. 

Create a banner to hang high on your booth so shoppers can read it from a distance.  We found bullet points of some of our products, our company name and website all valuable additions to the sign.  Additionally, if you want to advertise specific products you can have small banners that hang over your table made for individual items.


Develop Thick Skin
Be open to suggestions and feedback.  A lot of customers will have great suggestions and feedback and a few will have an abundance of business advice.  Some are better at communicating their advice in a positive way than others.  Regardless, know that it's not about you personally, and find ways to take it and let it go. 


Be open to ideas from other vendors, pay attention to what works and what doesn't, and have a great time!


Other Home-Based Business Posts:
How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 1
How To Start A Blog
25 Ways To Add Extra Income To Your Homestead
10 Tips For Starting A Home-Based Business

Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend

Betty checking out the soap photography


Allie not only came up to see what was going on, but decided to take a break while she was here.


An exhausted Ollie

Are you ready for zucchini yet?
My, I hope you had as beautiful a weekend in your neck of the woods as we had here.  Yesterday was just brilliant and today, although cooler, was absolutely breath taking.

Our snow is just about gone.  A few stubborn patches remain but I have no doubt they'll disappear with the expected rain tomorrow.  We have gone through the chicken coop and cleaned it completely out for Spring, which gave the Coop Girls a lot to chat about, and the garden beds are prepped and ready to go.  This also gave the Coop Girls a lot to chat about since anytime we work in the garden they assume there will be fresh veggies coming their way.  No veggies yet ladies.......

While photographing some of the soap this week the Coop Girls decided they needed to know what I was up to and Allie and Betty both photo bombed my shoot.  The very first photo with Betty looking over the soap cracks me up.  I was bent down taking the photo and all of a sudden a reddish brown feathered head was looking right at me.  I think she thought I had food, because before I knew it she was prancing around the table, checking everything out.  Allie enjoyed it so much she lay down and decided to take a rest.  Right there next to the soap.  So while she rested we chit chatted about the day.  Next thing you know she was off and running to look for worms and bugs.

Oliver and Emerson were outside most of yesterday with us, so when we all finally came in, they were completely exhausted.  You can see from the photo above that Ollie started chewing on his favorite bone and then fell asleep mid-chew.  The bone fell out of his mouth and lay next to him while he fell into a deep sleep.  If I'm being honest, I really wanted to get down there and lay right next to him.  But that didn't happen - too much to do.

Today we were at the farmer's market.  One more weekend and then we move outside!  It was a wonderful day and we were so grateful that so many of our friends have stopped by over the past few weekends.  I love shopping while I'm there - there's just so much to choose from!  Our friend Kylie made shaving mugs for us {seen on our facebook page}, and I also bought maple syrup, milk, homemade tortellini, pasta sauce, mozzarella {made fresh this morning}, mushrooms and apples.  Oh, and a DELICIOUS berry lemonade to drink while we were there.  Amazing!

The last photo {above} is of baby zucchini I bought at Trader Joe's last weekend.  I grilled them and served them with just a touch of butter.  Delicious!  To me zucchini says summer and boy are we getting ready for it.

Hoping you had a lovely weekend!

On the menu this week:  Chicken and Pasta with Spinach Cream Sauce; BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Rice and frozen Butternut Squash {down to 6 packages}; Grilled Chicken Breast with Homemade Mushroom Ravioli, Sauce and Asparagus; Stuffed Red Peppers; Tilapia with Butter Bean & Cilantro Sauce, Rice and Broccoli {down to 4 packages of broccoli from last years garden}; Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots.




Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Green Bean & Bacon Bundles


I'm always looking for different ways to serve vegetables.  With green beans, I really only steam them.  Seems boring, but I like them very simple.  I enjoy that crisp crunch and fresh flavor.  My husband, on the other hand, prefers them smothered in butter and cooked beyond green.  Sigh..... so, in an effort to find a recipe we BOTH enjoy, I found this.  A bean that still offers a lot of crunch while being basked in flavor.  And who doesn't love the classic combination of green beans and bacon?

I tried this initially with thick-cut bacon from Fresh Market, my favorite bacon.  It was just too thick though {I know, I know, how can that be????}.  Alternatively made with regular bacon I found it was a nice balance between the bacon and the bean.  I also found that steaming the beans prior to baking took away any of the rubbery texture of the bean.  Feel free to try it without steaming and bake it for about 10 minutes longer.

Not to mention they are adorable!  Who wouldn't want to see these little packages on their plate??



Green Bean & Bacon Bundles
source:  adapted from a recipe by This Little Blog Of Mine
Makes:  6 Bundles

1/2 pound fresh green beans
6 slices of regular bacon
1Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish or half cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
Wash and trim green beans.  Steam or boil for 3-5 minutes, until lightly cooked.  Thoroughly dry green beans, then bundle together about 5-8 green beans, making a total of 6 bundles.  Wrap a slice of bacon around the center of each bundle.  Lay the bundle, bacon seam side down, in the prepared baking dish to hold it together. Repeat with remaining beans.
Heat a small saucepan over low heat. Add butter, brown sugar and garlic and whisk until melted and combined. Brush or lightly drizzle the mixture over top of each green bean bundle. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more, just until bacon gets crispy.  If the bacon is not quite crispy enough, put them under the broiler {not in a glass or pyrex dish, however} for a minute or two, watching very carefully to prevent burning.  Serve.



Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend










What a BEAUTIFUL weekend!!  Today was absolutely amazing.  Although the morning started out a bit crazy, as every Sunday does for us, the sun was out, we had upper 50's for the temps, and the snow is quickly melting away.  How could it get better?

Our Saturday started at the local coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds, where the young man who helped me was too worried about getting the girl before me's phone number, that his mind was completely absent.  He kept apologizing and I kept repeating my order.  I told him I truly hoped it all worked out and he was taken aback by my kindness.  We've all been there - smitten and forgetful.  We had decided on breakfast sandwiches and latte's to get ready for the day.  After they had to re-make one of the sandwiches, due to the young man's wandering mind, we were now ready to run errands.  All day.  Where in the world does the day go when you're running around??  Wonderful little out-of-season strawberries were one item that made it's way home with us.  They've been enjoyed both plain and dipped it a bit of chocolate.  Delicious.  Saturday night was full of wrapping soap and making deodorant for today's farmer's market.

It was just a perfect day for a Spring market.  The sunshine brought out cheerful laughter and relaxed shopping.  After the market we took the boys to the park.  They were pretty surprised and happy about that.  The park was loaded with families and a whole lot of dogs for Oliver and Emerson to check out.  It is because of this that tonight they are genuinely exhausted.

The previous week was busy with work and writing.  And making a couple of wedding orders.  The grill has begun to be used again, we have raked the yard {around the still remaining snow piles} and next weekend I'm hoping to start prepping the garden beds.  If the temps remain nice, they should be un-thawed.  Ahhh....April.  The Coop Girls have started their own garden prep by digging for worms and other yummy bugs as the top layers begin to loosen up.  They will happily tell you about all the treasures they've found if you stop by for a visit.

Hoping you also had a lovely weekend!!

On the menu this week:  Clambake on the Grill; Teriyaki Flank Steak with Rice and Green Beans; BBQ Chicken Breast with Roasted Potatoes and Squash; Chicken Florentine with Rice; Burgers with Salad and Potato Wedges.




Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Baked Creamy Chicken Enchiladas


Simple and delicious, this enchilada dish is a fantastic way to use leftover chicken.  I have no idea where I originally found the recipe, but it's been in baked in our kitchen since before we were married.  Adjusted lightly over the years, it's true comfort food.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!


Baked Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
serves 3-4

1 Tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 can {4 oz} chopped green chilies
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, divided, optional
5 8-inch flour or corn tortilla shells
1 1/2- 2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, optional
salsa, optional

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onion until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, 30-60 seconds to cook out the raw flour flavor.  Stir in the broth, milk, chilies, salt and cumin.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in half of the cilantro if using and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the shredded chicken and the remaining cilantro.  Set aside.  In another small bowl combine the cheeses.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 13x9" baking dish.  Spread 1/4 cup sauce over the bottom of the pan.

Take 1 tortilla and spoon 1 Tablespoon sauce in the center and spread to the edges.  Place a spoonful of chicken down the center of the tortilla, leaving about 1/2 inch at each end for rolling.  Sprinkle 1-2 Tablespoons cheese over the chicken.   Roll the tortilla up - fold top and bottom ends over the chicken then fold right side over the chicken and roll over the other side to create a lovely little package.  *If your tortilla shells are stiff, microwave for 10 seconds before using.*  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Drizzle remaining sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.



Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Happy Easter!


From the people and critters at Cobble Hill Farm - Happy Easter!!



Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Making Money On The Homestead: How To Sell At A Farmer's Market Part 1


Farmer's Markets are popping up all over the country everywhere from small towns to large cities.  As more people are interested in the "shop local" movements, they become popular places to both shop and socialize.  Farmer's Markets are typically well advertised, have an established local following and are relatively inexpensive to participate in.  If you are interested in selling products you either make or grow, this can be the perfect place to start and run your business.

I've separated this series into 2 parts so I could make it a bit more in-depth and user friendly for those of you who are just starting out.  Part 1 will focus on the basics of applying and beginning the process and Part 2 will be things to consider for your booth and business success.


The first step is to figure out what you will be selling.  Most markets require that you either make or grow the product.  Some get even more specific with a percentage of items that must be locally sourced in products you make while others may have specific requirements on location {be located within a specific town or county}.

Also important to think about, is how you will make it all work.  If you are going to sell baked goods, for instance, you must first determine if it will be required that your items are baked in a commercial kitchen.  Then, when will you actually make and package them for that weekend's market?  Once at the market, do any of your products require refrigeration?  Can they all tolerate mid-summer heat?  How long will your products last? 

And yet another thing to keep in mind when determining what you will be selling is that many markets may have rules on how many of each type of vendor they will allow so their market is not saturated with the same items.  This leads us to the next item....

Visit any markets in person that you are considering.  Look at the set-up, what is being sold and try to identify your niche.  If you are a vegetable grower and there are many veggie stands, maybe there is a product or two that aren't represented.  Speak with the other vendors about their experiences.  They may share with you what seems to sell and what doesn't, what products people ask for that aren't represented, busiest times of day/year are, etc.  Look at the market set-up.  Is there any shade?  Do they require a canopy/tent?  What size?  Look at the other booth set-ups and figure out what you think works/doesn't work.  This will help you start to figure out what you'll need as far as tables and props.

While you are at the market, look at pricing.  For instance, the first Farmer's Market we sold at, a dozen eggs sold for $3.00 a dozen from most vendors.  This is pretty low for our area.  The second Market we participated in sells them for $3.50 to $4.00/dozen, which is more inline with the surrounding stores.  If we went into the first market and priced our eggs at $4.00/dozen, we likely wouldn't sell any because of the other vendors prices.  You should set your own prices depending on your calculations regarding what you need for productivity, but remember the balance between the cost you need to recover and the prices set by your fellow vendors and surrounding stores.  Trying not to undercut the other farmers while offering a well-priced item is a delicate balance.


Consider all aspects of a market before committing.  Selling at a Farmer's Market is a HUGE time commitment.  You can't pick and choose which markets to attend, you really must make sure your products are there every week.  This is the only way to build a following and the way the market will succeed.  If you need to have someone else run your booth for a day or two, remember to choose that person very carefully.  Shoppers will see them as the face of your business.  Make sure they provide the level of customer service you expect.

Find out, before applying, the market's rules.  Make sure you are in agreement with them and can {and will} follow them.  Find out ahead of time what your total costs will be and when payment is expected.  This helps you figure out how much you will need to sell to help determine if it is cost-effective or not.  Research what types of things will be allowed/not allowed.  If the market requires unannounced visits to your facility, find out what that entails. 

Research the laws of your state and town regarding what you will be selling.  Ensure you have registered with any and all organizations and have the correct licenses in place.  This includes insurance - find out if you will need coverage specific to your product or just a general liability insurance.  Even if your market doesn't require it, it certainly is something you should look into to protect your assets and yourself.

Will you need to charge sales tax?  If so, determine if your prices include all applicable taxes or if you will need to calculate tax for each sale.

Will you accept only cash or checks, or will you accept credit cards?  In our experience, most shoppers come with cash knowing they will be paying this way for most items, however, if you sell handcrafted items or items of higher cost, you definitely want to consider taking credit cards.  Taking into consideration how you will process, and the fees that will be incurred, you will have to decide depending on your estimated sales, if this is the right choice for you or not.  Most vendors at our market use Square on either their cell phone or iPad, but there are many companies out there, including through a lot of local banks, that you may consider.

Look at it as your place of business.  It seems like common sense, but we've certainly run into vendors that hadn't really thought of it this way.  Advertise, use social media, set up your booth according to good traffic flow rules, etc. as you would if your business was a store on main street.  Make it easy for customers to shop, use displays that will be inviting, and mark all of your products with easy to read signs.  Use any tools you have - website, facebook, twitter, etc. to promote your "store" to your followers.  If each vendor uses social media and advertisement to get their customers to the market, all vendors will benefit.

If you are considering selling at a farmer's market for the first time, thinking through the process and doing a little research ahead of time will set you up for a successful business venture.  Check back for part 2 where we'll discuss the specifics of your booth.


Other Home-Based Business Posts:
How To Start A Blog
25 Ways To Add Extra Income To Your Homestead
10 Tips For Starting A Home-Based Business


Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.