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How To Sell at a Farmers Market: The Complete Guide

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Selling at a farmers market can be tricky since it’s a local venture and requires multiple permits. Other issues could include not being able to set up shop or not having a unique enough product.

Whatever questions are troubling you, we’re here to help you figure them out. More and more people are choosing to sell at a farmers market so there has to be a correct approach to the process.

We’ll cover everything you need to know from what to consider, how to prepare for common problems, what you should have to put up in your market stall, and more.

Why You Should Consider Selling at a Farmers Market

The big question is: why is the farmers market a valid option for selling your product?

Is it better than e-commerce choices, such as Shopify and Amazon?

Let’s see.

  • Is a great way to test out new products: Homemade items are a hit or miss half the time since the market is unpredictable and you don’t know if your product is necessary. Recording how well new items sell in a farmers’ market would be helpful in the long run.
  • Allows you to tell your story: Clients at a farmers’ market are there because they want to learn about their local vendors and the story behind their homemade and locally-sourced products. Taking an active part in that community will boost sales too.
  • Reduces storefront costs: Selling to storefronts and big retail markets can end up costing an arm and a leg, depending on your product. Opting for a farmers’ market is less costly. 
  • Grants you immediate feedback and money: By selling directly to the client, you get to ask upfront what they think of your product and other questions, including if they’d buy it again. Earning the cash in person without going through channels is also an excellent edge.

Problems With Selling at a Farmers Market

Nothing is perfect, and despite the benefits of selling at a farmers’ market, you’ll find a few issues you’ll have to face.

Let’s learn what they are so we can be better prepared to deal with these problems.

  • There are various rules and regulations to keep up with: Everything from permits to correctly packaging agricultural products can be overwhelming—especially for first-time vendors. State laws for selling at farmers’ markets also vary too.
  • There’s not much foot traffic half the time: Since a farmers’ market is more of a niche, there won’t be much foot traffic. You’ll find that your audience is a specific clientele, which you need to factor in when business planning. 
  • The limited time can be restrictive: Some farmers’ markets are only open for a set number of hours while others open exclusively on weekends. A few are open year-round but either way, you’ll be planning around what limited time you’ll have.
  • A highly competitive market: Your product has to stand out at a farmers’ market because there’s a high chance there are multiple vendors who are selling the same item(s). What unique prices or opportunities are you offering your clients?

What You’ll Need to Sell at a Farmers Market

We’ve weighed the benefits against the losses. Next, we’re looking into what you’ll need to start selling your product at the farmers’ market.

Vegetables produce in crates at a local farers market
  • A business model: You should know how to sell a product and look at business model examples too. There are things every small business needs to be aware of before starting up and a farmer’s market is a good place to begin.
  • The right paperwork (permits, licenses, and insurance): Selling certain products at a farmers market will require different permits, including raw meat, fresh produce, and prepared foods. Check state and market laws and regulations too.
  • An excellent marketing strategy: Due to the problems you’ll face selling at the farmers market, you’ll need a strong marketing strategy to attract as many customers as possible. Our basics to a retail business should help.
  • Learn about extra costs: Extra costs may include shipping fees to help move your product to the farmers’ market, provided you lack the necessary means. Packaging and renting a stall are other expenses to consider.

What to Sell at a Farmers Market

Any item that’s fresh, locally produced, organic, or homemade would make for an excellent product to sell at a farmers’ market. 

To help you out, below are examples of popular products you should try selling.

1. Fresh Produce and Dairy Products

Farmers’ markets are notorious for always having fresh fruit and other agricultural products on hand. So putting out fresh produce and farmed dairy products guarantees a sale. 

Why This Product Sells Well

People shopping locally are looking to know their product instead of blindly picking it off a shelf in a grocery store. 

Produce is an integral part of our meals and there’s nothing like hand-picking every item, knowing that it wasn’t modified or genetically altered. Eating fresh is also a hit with health nuts and those becoming increasingly body conscious. 

2. Baked Goods

Baked goods are another favorite of the farmers market clientele. Those can be cookies, bread, cake, croissants, biscuits, pies, and more—the only limit is your imagination.

Why This Product Sells Well

The fresher, the better, and your hungry customers will find the smell of freshly baked goods to be enticing enough to land you a sale. 

You can even attract a wider audience by catering to those on diets or who have sugar-related diseases, like diabetes. Do so by offering healthy baked goods as an option too.

3. Homemade Craft Items

Craft items, candles, pottery, and jewelry are also popular with visitors to the farmers’ market. Knitted, crocheted, and sewn items are other great products to consider selling.

Why This Product Sells Well

Although more time-consuming, homemade craft items usually sell at a more expensive price than what the market offers. 

Your customers are aware of how difficult it is to create such products and how much creativity goes into them. They love the story and would happily favor a local vendor over mass-produced goods. 

Thinking of starting a candle business? Our guide will take you from selling at a farmers’ market to selling on a much larger scale.

4. Canned and Jarred Goods

Canned goods are another attractive item in the farmers’ market. Homemade jams and jellies, pickled items, sauces, and honey are among the most popular items.

Why This Product Sells Well

The lack of added preservatives makes homemade canned goods an appealing choice to many. Another factor is that each product was made from fresh produce and lots of love.

That said, the FDA considers canned goods as potentially hazardous food. So, be aware of the regulations before selling.

How To Sell at a Farmers Market: Step-By-Step Instructions

A young female seller in farmers market

A step-by-step guide on how to sell at a farmers’ market can prove quite helpful so pay attention to the upcoming steps.

Step 1: Set Up a Selling Plan

You can’t go into sales without a selling plan in mind. 

Your business model should note what product you’re selling, the set budget, the prices you want to sell at, and how you’ll market it to your target customers.

Be transparent about why your product would appeal to the market’s clientele too. Some farmers markets can already have a vendor present for the category you plan to fill. So check that your items are eligible for sale beforehand. 

Step 2: Cover Yourself Permit-Wise

Legally, there’s much paperwork to go through before selling in a farmers’ market. Start with business registrations and check if your county or state requires one as many don’t.

Besides a business license, you’ll also need a permit to sell. To apply for one, you’ll have to make sure your product meets the regulations put forward by your state and county authorities.

Getting certain insurance forms is important as well. A few farmers’ markets require vendors to sign these too. Insurance plans to keep in mind include General Liability Coverage, Product Liability Coverage, and Damage to Premises Rented Coverage. 

Step 3: Pick the Right Farmers’ Market for Your Product

Different farmers markets have varying customer bases and schedules. Each market manager sets forth their own rules that vendors should comply with. Some farmers markets are more interested in certain vendors than others too.

You should consider these factors as well as how big of an online presence the farmers’ market has.

Note that a few farmers’ markets offer their vendors complimentary equipment, such as a table and two chairs for example, while others don’t.

Doing enough research about your local farmers’ markets helps you pick which one is more suited for your home-based business and will grow your product line.

Step 4: Colorfully Advertise our Product

Planning your display plays a major role in attracting customers. In fact, it should be part of your business module and not left to the end. 

How you advertise your product gains you a competitive edge in a market where other vendors might be selling the same item. Reducing your prices to achieve the same goal isn’t sustainable in the long run either.

So, marketing is the way to go. Your display should reflect what your business is at its core while maintaining a professional outlook. Everything from tent color to who manages your stall with you can make all the difference.

Step 5: Be Thoroughly Prepared

Being prepared goes beyond having a product to sell and a business model to follow. Day off, you should only be focusing on making sales and creating a customer base—everything else you have to prepare beforehand.

That can include:

  • Having cash for change and a credit card reader for customers who came on a whim
  • A box to keep your money in
  • Paper bags (or what the market rules prefer) and other packaging items
  • A receipt pad for customers who like to track their expenses
  • A calculator (just in case)
  • Printed business cards
  • Answers to questions your customers might ask about your product

Things to Consider When Selling at a Farmers Market

A side view of the farmers market

There’s more to keep in mind? Yes! But luckily, nothing too complicated. Below is a short list of further points to consider before selling at a farmers market:

  • Know your clients: What kind of people shop at a farmers market?* What products are more likely to land a sale with the locals? Feel out your local neighborhood and plan your business model accordingly.
  • Understand the competition: Market research is vital, especially in a competitive environment like a farmers’ market. Gather information about other local vendors; you can even visit their stalls before putting out your own product the next day.
  • Leave your customers wanting more: Offer a business card or a complimentary gift (candy, mint, flowers) so they can remember you better. Ask them to follow your business on social media and entice them to look out for new products or upcoming sales.

Frequently Asked Questions

More burning questions? Here are the answers to two of the most popular concerns we get about selling at a farmers market:

How Can I Be Competitive at a Farmers Market?

Excellent marketing and complete transparency gain you a competitive edge at a farmers market. Advertising food safety, environmental health, and locally-grown agricultural products are sure ways to stand out as a vendor. 

Do You Need a License to Sell at a Farmers Market?

A farmers market is the same as a retail one, which means you need a seller’s permit at least. You’ll also need a Retail Food Establishment license so you can set up a market stall legally.

Either way, check the state laws beforehand as they differ from one to the other.

Similar Tutorials to Check Out

Want to look into more lucrative businesses to sell your product on instead of a simple farmers market? Below are similar options to consider.

  • How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners: With such a vast audience, Amazon guarantees a product sale—you only need to know where to start.
  • How to Sell on Walmart: Walmart can be excellent for businesses still finding their footing in the market. Check out our guide to help you figure out the why and how.
  • How to Sell on Shopify: Shopify is a diverse and encompassing platform, perfect for independent businesses to grow. Look into Shopify as an e-commerce option here.

Wrapping Up

That wraps up our guide on how to sell at a farmers market. It should be clear to you now that the process is rather straightforward, provided that you’re equipped with the right knowledge.

Make sure to pick the right product suited for your business’s image and to choose the proper model to help that business take off. Permits, insurance, and legal licenses are also vital elements to consider beforehand.

Did you enjoy our guide on how to sell at the farmers market?

Tell us how it helped you and what you think in the comments. Share the article with someone you know will benefit from it as well.

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