Selling baked goods at your local farmers’ market can be a very profitable opportunity, but just as with any other business venture it pays to be prepared. Farmers’ markets have gained a reputation for being a good place to purchase homemade and homegrown products, and there is quite a bit of competition between farmers, crafters and others who sell at these markets. That’s why you need to pay quite a bit of attention to your sales plan and your presentation if you want to succeed at selling baked goods at farmers’ markets.
In this article, we provide smart tips to help you do well. Read on to learn more about the best baked goods to sell at farmers markets.
What You'll Learn Today
Know The Territory
Begin by familiarizing yourself with farmers’ markets in your area (or potentially set up your own!). Visit all of the markets within a planned radius and decide which ones are most comfortable and are likely to be most profitable for you.
When making this determination, keep the following factors in mind:
- Products Sold
- Foot Traffic
Pay close attention to what the other vendors are selling. If the market seems saturated with the type of baked goods you plan to bring, this may not be the market for you. Alternately, you may wish to change the type of baked goods you plan to sell.
Talk with the other vendors to find out if there are restrictions on the types of goods they are able to sell. In some locations, it is not permissible to sell baked goods that have been prepared in a home kitchen.
Find out about the fees charged to set up at the farmers’ market. Make sure that they are not prohibitively steep and that the number of hours you will be allowed to sell will be enough to make your time worthwhile.
Take some time to sit and people-watch at the farmers markets. Determine which markets are best attended and which times of day are busiest.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Once you’ve decided which markets you prefer, set up a regular schedule and be predictable and dependable. You’ll soon build up a solid and reliable clientele.
Find out whether or not you’ll need to bring a table or if a table will be provided. Either way, decorate your space attractively by adding a pretty, clean tablecloth and setting up a canopy (if needed) to protect your goods and keep your customers comfortable.
When you start your day, be sure that your cashbox has enough small bills and change in it that you’ll be able to make change for your first customers.
Offer free samples so that your customers can decide which items they like the best.
Don’t nickel and dime yourself to death. Avoid selling small baked goods such as cookies and cupcakes individually. Instead, make sure to package your goods up in bundles so that you’re making the most profit for the amount of time spent in selling.
Be sure to put a clear label or a business card on every bundle with all of your contact information. Happy customers will want to get in touch with you to place special orders.
Price your items in such a way that you are not left with lots of product at the end of the day. For example, provide a significant discount to customers buying a full dozen over a half-dozen.
Don’t put all of your product out at once. It’s better to have a smaller display area and keep it full all day long rather than have vast tables that quickly become empty.
Remember, if you have a smaller display area you’ll be able to keep an eye on it better. This will reduce the chances that someone will walk away with your product while you’re talking with another customer.
What Are The Best Baked Goods To Sell At Farmers’ Markets?
The best and most popular items may vary from one location to another and from season to season; however, old standbys such as homemade bread never go out of style, and with a good, basic bread dough recipe you can make lots of variations.
If you’re baking your own bread, dinner rolls, biscuits, etc., you can also offer fresh, unbaked dough for people to purchase and bake at home. Pizza dough is especially popular. You can sell it freshly made, or you can make it in advance and sell it frozen to be thawed out and baked at home.
Once people become familiar with your homemade bread, you may have a hard time keeping up with the demand. It is not uncommon to have multiple advance orders for loaves of bread, rolls and ready to bake dough.
Many people who begin selling bread at farmers’ markets quickly move into taking special orders and delivering.
Vary Your Offerings By Season & Time Of Day
Aside from homemade bread, other good farmers’ market baked goods choices include:
- Caramel and Brownies
- Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- Homemade Caramel
- Homemade Candy
- Cinnamon Rolls
- Caramel Apples
- Candy Apples
- Cake Pops
Don’t try to offer all of these goodies at once. Take the season into account and offer the right things at the right time. For example:
- Homemade candies, brownies, caramel and fudge do very well around the holidays. Cool weather is the best time to these goodies as they tend to melt during the spring, summer and early autumn.
- Cupcakes can be decorated specially for each season of the year and for holidays.
- Caramel and candy apples are typically autumn treats.
Cookies are great all year round, but change up the types of cookies depending on the season. Chocolate chip and/or peanut butter cookies are always good sellers, but you can also offer various fruit cookies and/or muffins seasonally if you produce berries and other fruits on your farm or homestead.
TIP: Keep your cookies a little bit on the dry and hard side so that they’ll be durable for people wishing to buy them, carry them around and eat them at the farmers’ market.
Muffins and cinnamon rolls may sell better in the morning, especially if you’re also able to offer fresh coffee. If you churn your own butter at home, remember to offer that too.
Remember that cinnamon rolls are quite labor-intensive, so if you’re going to offer them make them big and special so that you can charge a pretty penny for them.
Use Your Baked Goods To Promote Your Other Products
If you are actually farming or homesteading, be sure to make your baked offerings unique by using your own produce, eggs, milk and the like.
Find recipes that make use of the fruits, veggies and other items in which you specialize. This will give you a proprietary edge, and it will act as good advertising for the other things you produce on your farm or homestead.
Create good combinations of your baked goods and produce. For example:
- Remember that homemade sausage, cheeses and fresh veggies also make excellent pizza toppings which you can offer along with your pizza dough.
- If you make sausage, offer it along with hotdog-like buns. Homemade cheese is a natural with this combination.
- If you grow apples, offer them along with ready to bake pie crusts.
Of course, you can promote also other products from your farm, i.e. not baked goods related – plants are a good example.
What You Bake May Depend On Your Equipment
Initially your kitchen appliances may limit the types of items you can offer. To do well, you’ll need a roomy oven that has at least a square cubic foot of cooking space. Having plenty of burners is also helpful. Half a dozen is the minimum.
If you don’t have a very big oven and ample stovetop space, you may not be able to bake the volume of goods that you need in a way that is conducive to turning a large profit. If this is the case, you should make upgrading your appliances your first priority with your initial profits.
You probably won’t make a fortune selling baked goods at the farmers’ market, but establishing yourself as a source of homemade baked goods can help ensure that you can make some money at the market all year round.
As you become more experienced and tweak your recipes to reflect your own produce and your abilities, you’ll make a name for yourself. Making proprietary baked goods using products from your farm helps ensure and expand the market for those products as well.