Rockin' it at a farmers market doesn't happen by accident - there are a few things that we have noticed that many successful vendors have in common.
House of Rufus's Kate Brown talks with a customer about their quality artisan sourdough bread. Booth presence, as well as online and social media presence, along with consistency, brand voice and business acumen, all come together for a successful market business.
By Kat Peters, Market Manager
At the market we love that we have the opportunity to support local food businesses by providing a space for customers to find vendors. At CCFM, we do our best to bring customers to you by: being a rain or shine market; advertising online, with an email newsletter, keeping a blog, having social media, and doing print advertising of several kinds; doing market analysis of how many customers we have, where they come from, what they buy, and how much they spend.
The market is a give and take environment – we do our work and you do yours, and together we build something that is better than the sum of its parts! As we look around the market, we can identify some things that successful vendors do, and we want to share them with you!
First and foremost, have a quality product!!! Customers at CCFM know that they will get the best of what they are looking for at our market. Let’s not disappoint! After you have that taken care of, here are 7 habits of highly effective market vendors:
1. Have a nice booth presence:
a. Keep things visually appealing – restock items
b. Have products labeled with names and prices – customers do not want to have to ask all the time
Attractive displays with prices prominently labeled work very well. Another great tip is to learn the names of your customers! Relationships = loyalty. Clockwise from top left: Bao's Pastry, Lambstone Cellars Winery, Native Roots Farm, Lane's End Farm, Southlake Holistics, BNutty.
2. Have a website:
a. Allow people to pre-order – this brings more people to the market, helps you to know how much to make, and makes things easier for customers
b. Be sure to keep your website updated!
3. Have an email newsletter:
a. This gives you direct access to your customers, helps them pre-order, and keeps them in the loop without relying on social media algorithms
4. Have a social media presence:
a. Pick one or two platforms that you can practice with
b. Tag (@) the market in posts only about the market – we’ll share to our story or our page and tag you back! This increases everyone’s reach and builds the market as well as your business
c. Share content – take photos and videos of your behind-the-scenes work, and work toward creating your brand’s “voice”
5. Have a brand voice:
a. Tell your “why” – what makes you unique? Do you use organic ingredients? Are you family-run? What can help customers get to know you better?
b. Have a logo and colors and/or fonts that people can associate with you
c. Have a tag-line (ours is Shop Locally, Eat Seasonally)
Little details can be a part of your brand. This chicken brooch can be found most weeks at Kajers Greens, and lets you know you've found your roost.
6. Maintain consistency:
a. Come to the market at least 5 times to try it out, or better yet, sign up for a full season. Customers need to see you consistently before they trust to try you out, and then you’ll build a following.
b. Show up when you say you’re going to show up! If that means sending a staff person to man the booth, maybe try that!
c. We are a rain or shine market! When you show up, rain or shine, customers notice, and they come out, too! When they know you’ll be there, no matter what, they don’t wonder from week to week if anyone will be at the market.
d. Keep your products predictable – have a rotation if you like, but people want to know what they can get week to week. Communicate new products through your website, newsletter and social media
7. Don’t forget the business side:
a. Research your price points and do your math – sustainable businesses make money, but also have prices that are accessible for customers
b. Don’t work for free – pay yourself for your time at the market (so include that in your prices)
c. Numbers are your friend – it may seem intimidating, but keeping records will help you in the end. CCFM will provide you with weekly customer counts. Compare those with your sales (and sales by product), the dates/time of year, etc, to see what works best for you! Keep a notebook and jot things down. Then, when you have time, study the trends. You’re sure to gain some insights you didn’t have without those numbers!
Beautiful displays, like this bouquet from Creative Nature Flower Farm, draws customers to your booth, and good customer service keeps people coming back.
Are you ready to apply to to the market for the 2023 season? Find our vendor information and market rules here. Full season vendors receive a number of benefits, including lower weekly rates and access to half-off sponsorship packages. They're also featured in our print marketing - 4,000 fliers and door hangers, as well as on our website.