Do you want to have a stall at your local Farmer’s Market this year, but would rather not sell produce? Perhaps you grow enough produce for your family, but there’s not enough room to grow extra for the market. Or, maybe there are already tons of people selling produce at your local market, and you want to do something different. Even if you do sell produce, there are always going to be times when fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season, or just aren’t quite ready to sell. Don’t worry! There are lots of things you can sell at the market that aren’t produce.
As you’re brainstorming for ideas, it’s important to remember that some items will require a special license, especially edible items. You might need a cottage foods license or even a food handler’s license, depending on what you plan to sell. You’ll want to check into your state’s laws before you start creating your products. Think about things that you already know how to make and make well. Remember, you don’t need to have a vast variety of items to take to market. You can specialize in just a few handmade items that people love, and they’ll come back to see you time and time again.
Here are some ideas to get you started!
1. Beauty Products
Selling homemade beauty products has become quite popular in recent years, but you can still stand out from the crowd if your products are unique. You could create artisan soaps in unusual scents that no one else is doing. Or, develop recipes for vegan beauty products and tap into that niche. Lip balms, bath salts, scrubs, lotions, and natural deodorants are all very popular if you can find a way to make your products different from what everyone else is selling.
2. Arts and Crafts
The possibilities for selling handcrafted arts and crafts items are literally endless. I’ve seen vendors at our local market do very well with everything from quilts and aprons to hand-painted nativities, potholders, and pottery. Canvas wall art is also trendy. If you live in a touristy area, consider doing landscapes of local landmarks. Hand carved spoons, and kitchen utensils, Christmas ornaments, doll and baby clothes, and needlework are just a few other ideas.
3. Baked Goods
A lot of folks can’t resist homemade baked goods like cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and breads. One vendor at our local market sells out of her incredible candy and caramel apples every week. Cake pops, suckers, homemade fudge, caramels, and regional specialties are all good sellers. Although they’re not necessarily baked goods, made to order lemonade and popcorn in a variety of flavors also go over very well.
If you are an experienced canner, many folks would love to sample your home-canned preserves and other foods. Jams, jellies, and salsas will always be a favorite. But, it doesn’t have to stop there! You could do pickles, relishes, sauerkraut, fruit butters, and much more.
5. Resale Items
Some markets don’t allow retail items, but if yours does, consider adding some new or vintage resale items to your booth. If you love to hit the thrift stores, flea markets, and auctions, look for vintage kitchen items like cookie cutters, mixing bowls, and rolling pins. These types of things will sell new, too, but you’ll probably make more money if you find them vintage.
6. Gourmet Dog Treats
People love to spoil their dogs! You could create treats in traditional flavors like peanut butter and bacon, but don’t forget to tap into niche markets, too. Many people will snap up gluten-free, vegan, and grain free treats for their dogs, especially if they’re made from organic ingredients.
7. Plants and Planting Supplies
Selling plant starts and garden starting supplies can be an excellent way to start off the market season while you’re waiting for your produce to come in. Of course, you can sell vegetable and herb transplants, but consider selling things like tomato cages, bags of rabbit or chicken manure for garden fertilizer, and starting trays. Don’t forget, you can sell seeds or bulbs you saved from your garden last year, too. Other ideas include strawberry plants (make a little cash with all those runners), seed potatoes, and onion transplants, also. Hanging baskets full of flowers and potted herb gardens will be good sellers, too.
Keys to Success at the Farmer’s Market
Obviously, there’s more to it than just setting up a table and putting your stuff on it. Once you’ve decided what to sell and checked into the legalities of your product, you need to come up with a creative way to present your items and get people to come to your booth. Here are some keys to being successful at the Farmer’s Market.
• Be reliable but not entirely predictable. Choose certain items that customers can count on you having every week. They’ll come to your booth to get their favorite chocolate chip cookies every Saturday morning. While they’re there, you can point out those new cupcakes you’re making or the seasonal produce that you’ll only have for a limited time.
• Packaging and presentation are everything! Prices should be clearly marked on all items. For small things, put them in a cute basket or bowl and attach a little sign. Always include your farm’s name and contact info on your products. List ingredients or care instructions where applicable. Remember to give customers a business card so they can find you again or recommend you to others.
• Know the rules and regulations. We’ve already mentioned that states will have rules regarding the sale of many items, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t assume that you can sell an item until you’ve done your research. Every market will have its own set of rules, as well. Some markets will require you to have a certain size and color tent for your booth. Some will require that everything is locally grown or locally made. Just make sure you know what’s needed before you invest your time and money into a product.
If you dream of having a booth at your local Farmer’s Market, the cold months of winter offer the perfect opportunity to create your products or fine-tune your recipes. In fact, there are markets available year-round in many parts of the country if you want to get started now. Either way, thinking beyond produce can provide all sorts of money making opportunities for your homestead.