How to Start Selling at a Farmer’s Market
Many of our Honeycomb alumni got their start at the farmer’s market - and some continue to attend markets in addition to their new storefronts or ecommerce setups which they funded with their crowdfunding campaigns. Farmer’s markets are a great place for small businesses to start selling because they’re relatively inexpensive to set up, are a great way to market your business to your community, and can connect you with other entrepreneurs in your community. If you’re looking to sell your products at a farmer’s market, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Decide which farmer’s markets you want to attend, and research their costs
If you live in a midsize or large city, there may be multiple different farmer’s markets in your area. They’ll be distributed among different neighborhoods in your city, and often on different days. If it’s a weekday, it’s probably going to start in the late afternoon, early evening, whereas weekend farmer’s markets are often morning-through-afternoon affairs.
Think about your bandwidth as a small business owner. You probably won’t be able to make it to every single market offered in your area - if there’s even room for your business in every farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets, especially in big cities, can get competitive! If there’s a main market that everyone knows about, it might be expensive to rent a space, and your business might be overshadowed by the other favorites.
Do your research and see if you can find a farmer’s market that matches your target market, that is within your budget, and fits with your business operations.
Another thing to consider is whether the farmer’s market is seasonal, if it’s a permanent structure, if it’s outdoors or indoors. Some farmer’s markets only happen when it’s warm out, and are outdoors, while others are year-round and indoors.
Make sure you’ve got the right permits
Just because you’re selling from under a tent doesn’t mean you can ignore safety standards! If you’re working with food, you need to make sure that your farmer’s market stand setup has been inspected and you’re properly displaying any licenses and permits. Most markets won’t let you set up a stand if you don’t have the proper licenses, so do your research and see what you need to have in your state.
Gather supplies - and be prepared for all weather
Now this is going to depend on the type of market you’re attending, but assuming it’s a standard temporary seasonal market, you’re going to need the following at the very least:
Coolers or warmers (if your products is temperature-sensitive)
Storage for your products
Signage (a banner, table skirt, etc)
Point of Sale System (a Square reader that connects to your phone is great for this)
Then, you need to also keep in mind different weather conditions. In the summer, it’s important to STAY HYDRATED (take it from someone who’s worked in farmer’s markets for four summers). Having cooling mechanisms like fans and cold towels is a good idea too for especially hot days. On the flip side, you’ll probably have at least a few days selling in the rain, so make sure you have waterproofing materials such as tent covers and tarps on hand as well.
Keep it simple - but consider weekly specials
If it’s a weekly, temporary market, consider this: you’re going to spend hours every week packing up your vehicle with a tent, tables, coolers, your products, signage, chairs, and all the other supplies we talked about above. This is why it’s important to consider what you’re going to bring to sell.
For farmers, you’re probably going to bring whatever you have on hand that you’re not selling wholesale or in other markets, as direct marketing is often one of the biggest sources of revenue. But, if you’re straddling your business between the farmer’s market and a brick and mortar store, it might be a good idea to just bring some of your flagship products - the ones you know are popular. That way, you don’t have to lug the whole store to the market every week.
That being said, farmer’s markets are also a cool place to get experimental! You can encourage people to come to your booth with farmer’s market-exclusive products that they can’t get through your other channels. And you can mix it up every week, too!
Know you’re in good company with other small businesses
As I mentioned before, a perk of working in farmer’s markets is that you have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other small business owners. In fact, a ton of Honeycomb alumni started in farmer’s markets and continue to attend them to this day! Klevr Tea and Baked True North are two examples of alumni who used their Honeycomb campaigns to either expand their ecommerce or open up a storefront, but they remain true to their farmer’s market roots.
Also, if you ever choose to run a crowdfunding campaign, like with Honeycomb, the farmer’s market is the PERFECT place to promote your campaign! Think about it - you’re coming into contact with hundreds of people every week, and farmer’s markets are known for being a great place to strike up a conversation with customers. If you’ve got some regulars who come to your booth every week, imagine how excited they would get for the chance to invest in your next step!
Farmer’s Markets are perfect for community-minded businesses
Which is why when farmer’s market faves choose to grow, they choose crowdfunding with Honeycomb. That way they can thank the customers who show up every week, rain or shine, with the opportunity to invest in their business, while they get the capital they need to grow! To learn more about running a Honeycomb campaign, fill out the form below.