Getting Ready for Market – Part 2

Treat your booth as your storefront.

May is here and that means it is farmers market season. This is the time of year many of the outdoor markets start for the season. According to the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), the number of farmers markets in Michigan has increased from around 90 in 2001 to over 300 today, so you don’t have to go far to find a market. Farmers markets have been a great way for small farms to find an outlet to sell their produce or for backyard gardeners to sell extra items or test the waters for increasing what they grow.

Each market has their own policies, requirements and application process to be able to sell at their market so be sure to check with the market manager before just showing up to sell. Just because in many cases it is easy to sell at a farmers market doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put some effort into your booth and display. Connecting with your customers is a great way to build a loyal customer base. Here are some tips to make your booth stand out:

  • Have signage with your farm name that is up high enough to be visible to customers. Whether this is a chalkboard or whiteboard on an easel next to your table or a vinyl printed banner that you hang from your pop up tent. Many smaller markets do not have assigned spaces so your booth may be in a different location each week. Having a sign with your farm name will help people find you. If you have a logo, be consistent in using it in other ways such as on labels and business cards so people become familiar with it.
  • Think about your display. Put a tablecloth or some other washable covering over your table(s). Think about using a variety of containers for displaying what you are selling and creating visual appeal, just make sure they are of a material that is safe for food contact. Consider having a photo of your farm as part of your signage or display
  • Ensure prices are clearly marked. There are many creative ways to do this. Use clothespins to clip prices to display containers. Use a chalk board or white board to list what is available that day and the respective prices. Use miniature chalkboards or whiteboards to set in front of individual items. Create your own reusable signs by laminating note cards and then using white board markers.
  • Find other ways to connect with your customers outside of the market. This could include maintaining an email list or Facebook page to let customers know what you will have available each week. Providing recipes or information on how to prepare and store specific items. Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Fresh website is a great resource for this information with downloadable fact sheets.

Selling at a farmers market is a great way to connect directly with consumers. One of the great things about the local farmers market is the trust people develop by knowing the people who grow their food. Are you doing everything you can to make sure you are connecting with your customers?

For more information you can contact the Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Work Group.

Additional articles in this series:
Getting Ready for Market  Part 1