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Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:25 PM

Farmer's Markets

Do you sell your wares at your local farmer's market? I am applying to the ones nearest me. If you sell, what do you like/not like about it?

I just started back on December, not long at all, and certainly off season. I just was wondering what others' experiences have been.

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Reply Farmer's Markets (Original post)
supernova Jan 2013 OP
bvar22 Jan 2013 #1
fasttense Feb 2013 #2

Response to supernova (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 02:04 PM

1. Good and Bad.

We don't participate in our local Farmer's Market for a number of reasons.
Transportation costs, packaging, and the additional labor wouldn't be cost effective for us at our level of production,
and increasing production is not something we are contemplating at this time.

However, being active in our rural community of sustainable, organic gardeners, bee keepers, and egg producers,
we DO know several who do.
Some are retired Hobby Farmers who enjoy the activity, and don't mind if it costs them money to participate.
Left alone, they tend to undercut those who DO need to make a profit by selling at a loss just for the gratification of having someone admire their produce. This leads to all kinds of problems.
When the day is done, it is really difficult to make enough money to make it worthwhile,
unless you are doing it on a pretty large scale.

And then there ARE vendors who are dishonest about how their produce was grown or handled, and will lie to your face with a smile if it means a few extra dollars in their pocket.
Oversight is really non-existent, less than at your local supermarket.

YMMV,
but don't be surprised at the politics, greed, petty fiefdoms, and back biting you may find behind the curtain at any American enterprise where people need to make money, even something as "enlightened" as a Organic Farmer's Market.

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Response to supernova (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:04 AM

2. Pick the largest most urban market available to you.

We tried our local Farmer's market and found it to be a very limited source of income. Farmers routinely showed up to dump products such as corn, eggs, watermelons in season that undercut the steady vendors. There was a lot of back biting and petty politics because there were few customers and more vendors to fight over them.

We then went an hour away to a more urban farmer's market that is steadily growing and are very happy with it. It's well worth the cost of the gas. The petty politics is much reduced because we are big enough to afford a full time market manager who is outstanding. There is enough money and upscale customers that allow for higher prices which reduces a lot of the back biting and infighting. The better pricing allows us to incorporate the cost of packaging into our prices.

You can get discount prices for packaging if you buy in bulk. On the internet many places give you FREE shipping for larger orders. The only packaging we buy is: egg cartons (buy every 3 to 4 year in bulk), plastic bags and pint containers. Most customers bring their own shopping bags and we keep used plastic bags for customers who don't bring them. You can get enough of the used ones just by saving your own grocery bags.

We did have a one time investment in an awning, tables, chairs and cloth (for table cloths) but I made my own and you can probably buy the plastic table cloths cheaper. We do routinely get business cards and periodically update a large sign.

There are many vendors at our Farmer's Market that make a very good living. It can be profitable, if you have children for free labor or focus on high dollar items. Yes, some people lie about how and where their products are produced but in the long run the ones who make the most money are those who are up front and honest with their customers.

Good luck and don't hesitate to change markets if you are not doing well.

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