If you want to make money at the Farmers’ Market, it may seem a simple matter to take a few of your produce items, craft creations, baked goods and the like to sell; however, there’s quite a bit that goes into making a profit at the Farmers’ Market. In this article, we discuss the ins-and-outs of doing business at the Farmers’ Market. Read on to learn more about how to make money at the Farmers Market.
What You'll Learn Today
- How much can you make at a Farmers’ Market?
- What kind of permits must farmers have?
- How do I know what to charge for my produce?
- What should I offer for sale?
- How should farmers dress at the Farmers’ Market?
- How important is customer service at the Farmers’ Market?
- What kind of display works best?
- Is it best to sell produce by the pound or by the item?
- What’s the best way to handle money at the Farmers’ Market?
- How can I avoid fines and unexpected costs?
- How can I build up a regular clientele?
- What’s the best use of off-season time?
- How can I get started without a big investment?
- What are the best selling homemade goods?
How much can you make at a Farmers’ Market?
It’s very hard to say exactly how much you can make at a Farmers’ Market because a great deal depends on what you’re selling, the state you are in and customer demand.
Generally speaking, you can expect to make about a quarter over your production costs, but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Demand for your product will play a big part in the amount that you can earn. For example, early in the growing season, your produce may be very greatly in demand and you may sell out every single day and make a great deal of money. This may dwindle as the season progresses.
The amount you make any given year will depend a great deal on how long your Farmers’ Marketing season is. In some areas that have mild weather all year round, you may be able to sell all year round. In areas that have very cold winters or extremely hot summers, the Farmers’ Market season may be quite limited.
The amount you make will depend a great deal on a number of factors that are out of your control and a number of factors that are in your control. The key to success is good planning, consistent and competent execution and persistence.
One of the most important considerations in determining your profits is the amount you must pay for fees. While you may balk at paying high daily fees at a Farmers’ Market, you need to look at whether or not the market in question is well-managed.
For example, there may be some markets that don’t charge you any fees but are badly run. When this is the case, you may not make much money because people avoid the market.
A well-run market may charge high fees but they may also provide nice stalls, clean restrooms, access to water, and an inviting set up that attracts lots of customers. In this case, even though you pay very high fees, you may also turn very high profits.
In a free venue, you may only make about a hundred dollars a day or less. In a well-managed venue, you may very well turn that into a thousand dollars a day offering the same goods.
To choose a good Farmers’ Market, you could begin your search online. Simply type in local Farmers’ Markets in your favorite browser and see what turns up. Visit the markets in your area to scope them out and see which ones seem the most successful, inviting and comfortable for you.
How to Setup and Make MONEY at Farmers Market
What kind of permits must farmers have?
Throughout most of the United States, farmers can sell their homegrown produce without any special license or permits. If you’re selling produce or meat at the Farmers’ Market, you’ll need to be certain that you are properly certified. Check with your local authorities to become a certified provider of these food goods.
To be successful and to avoid trouble, you’ll also want to be certain that you understand health standards in your locality. Health inspectors may visit your booth randomly. You want to be certain that you have your certification on hand and that you are following all of the health rules. These vary from one state to another, but they are all based in safety and cleanliness.
If you want to resell produce from another farmer, you may need what is termed a “hawker’s” license. Additionally, if you want to sell processed foods such as sausage, honey, bread or other products that are made at home, you may need special permit from the local health department. There may be some fees associated with the acquisition of these permits.
How do I know what to charge for my produce?
Farmers must very carefully evaluate their expenses when setting prices. One common way of doing this is using a technique known as the “four-time-multiple” rule. To use this formula, you would posit that:
- A quarter of the price of your produce would completely cover your production costs.
- A quarter of the price of your produce would cover your transportation and packaging.
- A quarter of your price should cover your advertising and selling expenses. This would include hiring people to work for you on market day, providing your customers with free samples and any wasted product that doesn’t get sold.
- After all this, the final quarter would be your profit.
So, simply put, you would combine the first three costs, divide by three and then add the resulting number to get your total final sale price.
While this is a good general overall rule, you must keep in mind that supply and demand must also be taken to account. If you have a product that is in great quantity easily accessed by your customers, they will be less likely to pay a higher price for it than if you have an unusual product that is also in demand but not in great quantity.
In a good market, the market manager should also keep you informed regarding local, wholesale market prices and retail prices. This information can often be had by contacting your state’s Department of Agriculture. They may publish weekly price reports that will help you determine how much you can reasonably charge for your products.
Is it better for farmers to sell to Farmers’ Markets or into the commercial food chain?
When farmers sell directly to the public through Farmers’ Markets they eliminate the middleman and are able to keep a great deal more of their profits.
What should I offer for sale?
Market requirements vary from one place to another, and your choice of merchandise will depend on these requirements. Some require that farmers sell only crops that they have grown. Others will only allow crops that have been picked within the last twenty-four hours.
You can also sell other types of items at the Farmers’ Market such as jewelry, needlework, artwork, preserves, personal care items, candles and more.
Some markets allow the sale of farm made goods such as preserves, honey and cider. Others may allow the sale of products such as bread that are made from commercially purchased ingredients.
If you want to sell baked goods, you’ll need to make sure that it’s all right to prepare them in your own home kitchen. Many municipalities require that you use a commercial kitchen. If you are able to use the kitchen at your church, this will be suitable.
There are some markets that allow wholesale brokers and even the sale of imported goods.
How should farmers dress at the Farmers’ Market?
Your appearance will influence your sales and your success. When selling at a Farmers’ Market, you should wear clean, comfortable, modest clothing. Go for business dress casual, farm style.
In other words, a clean shirt with sleeves and a collar, clean slacks, pants or jeans and clean boots or shoes. Be sure to wash your face and hands, comb your hair and make yourself presentable.
How important is customer service at the Farmers’ Market?
Good customer service increases sales. It’s always important to greet your customers in a friendly manner and cheerfully answer questions about your products.
Be ready to greet people and engage them. Stand up or at least perch on stool rather than sitting down and out of sight.
Be sure to provide free samples of some items, provide a discount or even give away leftover produce at days’ end. You’ll find that your generosity returns to you the next time work at that market.
Go on a consistent basis. People will look for you once they get used to buying from you, so don’t disappoint them.
What kind of display works best?
Set up colorful, bright displays that are easy to see and easy to access. You should have clean tables to display your goods. If you don’t have tables, you could lay a sheet of plywood over a pair of sawhorses and cover it the cloth for a nice display.
It’s always a good idea to have a tent that will enclose your entire booth. A 10’x10’ tent will help protect you and your customers and your goods against heat, sun and inclement weather. Additionally, it defines your area and may even help prevent loss of goods to people with sticky fingers.
Don’t set things on the ground (except for plants or large produce like pumpkins). Have colorful, attractive items displayed at eye level.
Always clean your produce before presenting it, and offer it in safe, sturdy, clean containers that are free of sharp edges.
Create clear signage that identifies your farm and also clearly marks your produce and its prices.
Keep your shelves full. If you start out the season with a product that runs out or dwindles, have something ready to take its place. Always have your display full and attractive to your customers.
Is it best to sell produce by the pound or by the item?
Selling by the item can be simpler, but you will need to explain your pricing system to your customers. If you sell by the pound, you will have to have a certified scale that has been tested and sealed.
You can choose to sell your produce by weight, by count, combination or by measure. For example, you may decide to sell apples loose, by the pound and smaller fruits and veggies, such as strawberries or cherry tomatoes, for a single price per pre-measured quart and fresh herbs by the bunch.
Larger vegetables, such as cucumbers or melons, may be easier to sell by count. For example you might sell six zucchini for $3 dollars.
What’s the best way to handle money at the Farmers’ Market?
You should have a locking cashbox that you can keep secure in your locked vehicle. In your pockets, start the day with $25 worth of change and small bills so that you can make change for almost any purchase.
When you build up a lot of money in your pockets, discreetly transfer all but $25 to your cashbox.
Check to see if the Farmers’ Market you want to do business with will allow you to accept debit and credit cards. Even though accepting cards will add to your costs, it will also add to your income as more people will be prepared to buy from you if they don’t have to have cash on hand.
Generally speaking, it will cost you about 3% of the sale price to accept credit and debit cards, so you must price items accordingly. Keep track because you may be able to deduct this cost from your taxes.
How can I avoid fines and unexpected costs?
If you are just going to the Farmers’ Market to sell off your excess produce one time or for the weekend, it’s not a big commitment, and you can probably just pocket your profits and go your merry way. If it’s something you want to do an ongoing basis, you will need to treat your Farmers’ Marketing as a business.
Before the selling season begins, you must check in with your city and your state to find out what is required in terms of registering your business. You may need to have a state resale number, and you must understand how to collect sales tax and pay.
Be sure to keep good records of your income and your expenses so that you will be ready to file your taxes at the end of year. You’ll need to use Schedule C to record your profits from the Farmers’ Market.
As with any other business, you will need to have liability insurance. If someone suffers an injury or illness from a product that you offer, it’s very important that you be properly covered.
How can I build up a regular clientele?
To attract repeat customers, be dependable. Always show up before the market opens. Be set up and ready to do business as customers begin to circulate.
To keep customers coming back, be sure to clearly label and price all of your items. Use good, clear, professional looking signage to attract customers and inform them. Have matching business cards printed and readily available so customers can contact you with special requests.
What’s the best use of off-season time?
If you want to make money at the Farmers’ Market, you must always offer an ample and fresh inventory. If you are selling crafts, jewelry and other nonperishable items, you should use the months when the market is not open to prepare and build your inventory.
If you’re selling perishables, you must make certain that you plan your garden, your baking schedule or other production activities in a way that yields plenty of product delivered freshly.
How can I get started without a big investment?
If you are unsure that you really want to work at the Farmers’ Market, you might look into sharing a booth with an established marketer for a while to see how you like it and how well you will do.
To pursue this course of action, visit your local Farmers’ Markets and get to know the vendors who are there. Befriend a few of them and ask if you can help out occasionally and sell your goods. Trying the experience out will help you to have a more successful Farmers’ Market business.
How to Crush It at the Farmers’ Market
What are the best selling homemade goods?
- Honey does very well at Farmers’ Markets, but there is a lot of investment in bees, beehives, beekeeping equipment and more. Honey processing equipment, such as machines, jars, lids, sterilizers etc. all make it necessary to put a great deal of money into your honey operation before you ever sell a jar of honey.
Because of all this, it’s very difficult to say how much money you can make selling honey at the Farmers’ Market. Suffice it to say that beekeeping and honey production is not a get rich quick operation; however, once you’re established and you are running healthy hives using a sufficient amount of honey, you can make a good living selling fresh, local, organic honey.
Generally speaking, a successful beekeeper may earn between $40,000 and $60,000 annually with a combination of sales strategies that include Farmers‘ Marketing.
Just keep in mind that all of this is dependent upon your own professionalism and tenacity and the health and productivity of your bees; as well as your location.
- Personal care items, candles and the like can also sell very well at the Farmers’ Market. These are good products to branch into when you keep bees because beeswax is a very versatile ingredient that can be well used to make these products.
- Preserves, such as chutney, marmalade, jelly and/or jam sell at a good profit. Preserving will keep you from having an overabundance of produce.
Selling this type of product can be sort of hit and miss, especially if you price your jams and jellies strictly according to the cost of production. If you produce a wide variety of preserves, it can be smart to price them all the same. You may end up losing a few cents on some more expensive types, but you’ll make it up on the less expensive ones.
For example apple butter and apple jelly are quite inexpensive to make. Raspberry, blackberry and blueberry jam, on the other hand can be quite costly. If you average your costs and charge the same amount for all of these products, will still end up turning a profit, and you keep things simple and easy for yourself and your customers.
Unlike producing baked goods and meat for sale at the Farmers’ Market, you do not need a commercial kitchen to prepare preserves for sale at the Farmers’ Market. You do need a license and you’ll need to check in with your local health department to determine the exact requirements.
Once you become licensed to produce these products at home, you can expect the health inspector to pop in occasionally to make sure that you are maintaining the agreed-upon conditions.
Generally speaking, if you’re successful when making preserves, you may be able to make an average of about 25 dollars an hour considering all of your time preparing the product your home and in selling it at the market.
There’s no guarantee of this; however, it’s all a matter of the amount of your expenses and the success of your business.