Friday, February 11, 2011

2011 Farmer's Markets Season

Either it is the seven day forecast that includes above freezing temperatures that has me thinking about the upcoming market season or the e-mail that I received from the Des Moines Downtown Farmer's Market, either way it's really on my mind. This year I'm really hoping to up my market involvement and the farm's visibility to consumers. I think it is just the next natural step in the process of a beginning farm.

Last summer I did a Wednesday evening market that was more small than it was large. It would have been nice to have a slightly more successful market season, but in all honestly it was a perfect start for me. Since I had no background in marketing or setting up a booth it was good to have a chance to get things going at a market that was a little less stressful. I took away a lot of things ... things that I need to change and things that I need to improve in order to make more sales and to be more efficient. For example, I feel like I need to come up with a better system for checking out customers ... it just seemed slow!

But, the one thing I really need help with is my farmer's market booth/space/tent thing. I feel like all those fruit and vegetable farmers have it easy because they can cover their tables with their beautiful produce each week. On the other hand when I show up at the farmer's market I have coolers full of frozen meat. That is not exactly something you want to put out on the table for customers to look at ... the rancid meat isn't a super draw! So, I have to come up with a super duper market table that catches the eye of all the customers walking by and draws them in.

If anyone has any ideas or examples of what you've done in the past please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for some creative help and great ideas! Also, if there are any books or publications please let me know. I did come across this book on Amazon though ... it has some decent reviews, so I might check it out.


Jean said...

1. Get that white tent thing. Who want to stand in sun all afternoon? It's also great place to hang banner to catch people's eye when they try to scan the booth above people's head.

2. Put up a sign on one end of table, explaining where meat come from (name of farm, grass fed, etc). Include a few brochures on benefits of grass fed etc. Don't forget couple business cards.

3. Put up another sign to park on other end of table, listing what you have available and at what price. If stock is so variable, consider whiteboard.

Those who sell perishables and do things I mentioned above are who I remember the most and longest. I've been to couple DesMoines farmer markets and that's what I noticed and noted to put in action if I ever participate in markets (buy wholesale from brethren in my church and resell, just for the fun of it).

Better yet, be ready to answer questions people may give you at all times! I wouldn't buy much stuffs from those who couldn't.

Brenda said...

Sugarcreek farm had a post on this a year or so ago. Maybe you could bring your children along to help market? :)

Anonymous said...

What Jean said is good-I would also add if you have anything made up that could be easily sampled, that always brings folks in. I know from helping out with several farm stands (cheese, beef) that it makes a huge difference. Yes, you may end up sampling to a lot of people who don't buy, buy as a consumer, I want to know what I'm getting into before I commit to purchase something. It is hard with meat, unless you sell value-added stuff like sticks and jerky. If you can brainstorm something that works, though, I would recommend it. As far as checking out, I haven't seen your setup. Things can take a little time, though. Honestly, I think most booths I buy from, unless what they are selling is right on the table, take some time. I would rather that happen and I get what I want than rushing through only to see I have the wrong change or item. The goat cheese ladies I've worked with had a good system with sorting their goods into certain coolers, and always arranging those coolers the same way, as well as having them easily labeled on top as to where in the cooler each item was so you could just open and grab without searching. A good cash box, big calculator and the card running machine the market can issue you are all nice to have on hand as well. I think experience is the best teacher, as well as taking the time to walk around and watch other folks' setups. I have been to markets all over the place (not just in Iowa) and they all run pretty similarly. A nice table cloth. A big sign. Well set up table with a very clear indication of what you sell, why I would be interested and how much it will cost. Cards with online ordering info. And cushy mats to put on the ground to stand on to help reduce fatigue. I hope you all have a good season!

Hamons said...

I don't even have a farm yet -- although -- we are in the business planning stages. One of my Market ideas is to have a large almost life-sized fiberglass cow painted to set next to my table. Instant recognition of what we are selling. Yuu can buy them on the net at places like this

Michelle said...

I'm in marketing and I love to cook. I also love farmers markets. Here's what I would suggest: Bring printed recipes and accompany them with photos of the meat dishes you've cooked. If you can bring samples of some of those recipes in a crock pot, that would be even better. People make impulse buys when you give them the information that replicates their experience at the market. Forget all the gimmicks and the kids. If you show them how to make the food at home and give proof about how great the food tastes, they will buy it. Also, some photos of how nice your animals look, how pretty your farm looks...all that helps.

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