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With the growing season near, it is a good time to collect all you need for the farmers market in one place so you can consider your display. This week I’ll discuss the basic items you need as well as some concepts you should consider when prepareing for this year’s farmers’ market season. Often, the necessary display and tools come together on the fly throughout the year, but by jumping on it now, you can have an advantage from week one. Here are 13 things you’ll need for the 2018 farmers market season.
1. A Tent
Do you have a functional tent? Have you set it up, cleaned it off and made sure all the parts are still in the bag? Have you considered ways you could enhance it—adding a farm sign or logo, for instance? Also, make sure it is the size your market allows—if your farmers market allows only a 10-foot space, you can’t use a 12-foot tent.
The place you set your farmers market display must be sturdy but also mobile. It is easy to get overly fancy when considering your tables, but they have to be functional. Any space they take up in the market vehicle will cost you room to bring more product. So they need to be compact, but also offer plenty of space to display your food. Basic folding tables work fine. I recommend having at least two.
Don’t skip over the tablecloths. If you have a basic folding table, you should cover it to make the overall display look attractive and to block the coolers and other items hidden below the table. For that reason, I recommend making sure tablecloths reach close to the ground, at least on one side. Color is up to you. I’ve seen great farmers market displays on white tablecloths as well as patterned and black ones.
If you sell fruit, flowers, vegetables or meat at the farmers market, you need a way to keep them cold. Get at least a couple of large coolers for transportation and holding products, but don’t worry about their look—they can easily be stored under the tables and out of sight.
A farm sign is vitally important to your sales—people like to know who they’re supporting. They also like to know about your practices. Is your operation organic? Chemical free? Consider some signs that will indicate how you produce your food.
Consider how you will display your products. I recommend having one or two layers to build upon—a layer of goods in the front, then a higher layer behind that. Thus, a shelf in the back for stacking products works well as long as it doesn’t take up too much space in transport. You can also bring extra baskets, boxes or harvest bins to accomplish the same thing. The goal should always be to make your table look bountiful, so any way you can elevate your display is important.
7. A Scale
If you sell anything that requires weighing, you need a legal, digital scale. Such scales can be a bit expensive, but they are well worth it.
8. A Cash Box
You needn’t keep cash in a literal box—aprons work as well. However, you definitely need some way to keep cash for change and sales.
9. A Sales Tracking System
It is important to have a method to keep track of your sales. This can be as simple as a pen and paper, or as complicated as a spreadsheet. Whatever you choose, make it simple so you don’t spend more time writing sales than selling.
Some form of shopping bag is an essential supply. Not all customers bring their own. However, you can sell canvas bags as a value-added item with your logo—this might also be nice marketing strategy.
11. Business Cards
This seems obvious, but always give business cards or offer them with your produce. People can use them to find you again or tag you on the internet. Labeling your produce or shopping bags can also achieve similar results. Either way, make it easy for customers have a way to remember where their food came from when they get home.
12. Price Tags or Labels
Too often, farmers leave pricing until the last minute, but I recommend deciding now what you will use to indicate prices before market starts. One big board with all the prices? Tiny price tags for each item? Some people use pricing structures (such as $3 each, or 2 items for $5). Thoroughly consider this so you’re not just decorating your pretty display with little scraps of paper.
13. A Card Reader
In this day and age, you can easily lose sales by not taking credit or bank cards. Even if your market offers “tokens” at the market booth, I still recommend getting a phone or device capable of taking cards so customers won’t have to leave your tent and come back. With everything you do, think of how to make it easier for the customer, and you will have market success.