What you bring to the farmers market often doesn’t determine how well it sells, and often how you display your items matters more.
You can bring the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes in the world, but if you fail to make them visible from the walking paths, or if you don’t make their prices visible, your sales might be substandard without you even realizing it. Sometimes it takes just a little tweak here or there to make a difference, but sometimes it takes reimagining your whole booth space. Regardless, follow the guidelines below and your sales might increase.
1. Keep Produce Fresh
There is perhaps no bigger marketing mistake than letting your produce wilt in the wind or sun on the farmers market table. Obviously, by the end of the day, there might be some rough edges, but overall you should keep your produce looking fresh and bright. I highly recommend keeping coolers with ice handy and swapping out the product as needed. I also recommend bringing a spray bottle with clean, fresh water to spritz applicable products and keep them shining and fresh. This is a grocery store trick, and one that I believe can serve farmers well.
2. Pile Your Ware High
Customers like bounty, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make your table look full and heaped with food. Of course, make sure to do this in a way that does not crush or ruin any produce on the bottom of the pile, but the display should be heaping.
3. Make Your Products Visible
One mistake I see a lot among farmers is keeping produce stacked in bins so it’s hard for customers to see it from the walkway. Remember, a lot of customers walk through looking for something specific or at least something that inspires them. They probably won’t pop into every booth, so having your food on full display can help draw them in.
4. Build a Display
Piggy backing on that idea, one mistake farmers often make is leaving all of their produce in dirty harvest bins as their display. I get the simplicity, and I can’t say that every customer cares, but—coming from someone who is a farmers market customer turned vendor for the past nine years—this display practice has the unintended consequence of making produce look like it’s intended for the wholesale market and not as attractive for retail.
Customers, consciously or not, like a nice package and nice display. Grocery stores have known this for years, and farmers should pick up on it. I suggest building a display for food that can be easily hauled back and forth to market. Wood is a really nice look, but maybe you have other ideas, and that’s great. Going the extra mile on your display will help make your food stand out and look as special as it is.
5. Beautify the Tables
Tables should have tablecloths. Too often farmers bring card tables and leave them bare. Again, some customers don’t care, but to grow your business and bring in new ones, you must consider your booth’s appearance. Tablecloths are a nice start, so is having a few flowers or subtle decorations (pictures of the farm, for instance) to draw customers, even if you’re not selling those things.
6. Show Your Sign
Signs are important for showing the price of food and for creating your brand. The quality of those signs is equally critical. Chalkboards generally look better than dry erase boards. Printed signs are even better. We have found that it is often the little things, like a book with pictures of our farm, good signage or a nice display, that often bring customers in and get them talking. Customers like to see that you care, and your booth is a great way to show them before you ever meet them.