If you’re looking for a way of both giving back to the community and supplementing your income, consider operating a booth at your local farmer’s market. With minimal investment, you could be on your way to becoming a successful small business owner with the help of a skill you already have and the support of your friends and neighbors. Whether you know how to make fruit preserves, bake a tasty rum cake, prepare homemade soap, or any other number of trendy products that are meeting a growing demand for local production, contact your area’s farmer’s market management today to learn more.
The first thing to check is whether or not your state has a Cottage Food Act. From California to Illinois, states with this regulation system allow anyone who meets certain requirements and passes a food handling class to make products in their home and sell them at local markets. Although the details vary from state to state, a Cottage Food Act is the best way of introducing yourself to the market. It also provides ways for the business to expand in the future and eventually use commercial kitchen space to prepare products for retail shelves, if there is an appropriate demand.
If there is no legal reason standing between you and your farmer’s market aspirations, the next step is figuring out how much money you’ll have to invest to get off the ground. Depending on the product you are planning to produce, as well as your general schedule through the summer months, it may be possible to use each week’s income to buy fresh ingredients to prepare for the next week. Otherwise, you’ll want to be sure you can stockpile enough products to last the entire season. This is also a crucial time to determine other costs, such as your booth itself. Many market vendors choose to use a canopy style event tent, which generally costs around $200.00. You’ll need a table or two and probably a chair, as well as convenient methods of transporting your goods.
Beyond the basics, think about your brand. Having business cards made up with an eye-catching logo can keep you on the minds of your consumers, and decorating your booth with tasteful fabrics or other decorative items will leave a lasting impression. There are also the operating costs of being at the farmer’s market, though these are usually very small, sometimes as little as $10.00 per week or even less. If you have several markets in the area, consider registering for multiple markets and maximizing your availability. However, be sure you’re not impeding on other’s business. Many markets try to keep only one of any given type of vendor to avoid unneeded competition.
The last thing to think about is advertising. Although the great thing about a farmer’s market is that many people will be coming to look at all the vendors and stock up for the week, increasing awareness of your specific booth is always recommended. Local papers are often looking for interviews with small business owners. Setting up a Facebook page or other social media website allows customers to connect directly with you, as well as spread your message to their friends and contacts. Giving out coupons incentives encourages people to come spend money and get to know your products better. It’s also possible to work together with other vendors at your local farmer’s market to create special deals that combine both of your customer bases.
Getting more involved with your community, as well as making some extra money, has never been easier than by starting a farmer’s market business. It’s easy to produce local products that meet a demand, and, if done wisely, costs can be kept very minimal. If you’ve been thinking about it, there’s no better time than right now to get ready for this summer’s market season. Besides, just being a vendor allows you to build connections with other vendors and often purchase products at a discounted price or even trade your homemade goods for others. There’s no reason not to start your road to farmer’s market success.