To keep you inspired, we prepared seven steps that you can use as a guide in starting your business in a local farmer’s market.
- Identify your product.
Before even getting yourself a stall, it is important that you identify the product that you are going to sell your customers.
Have a unique selection. Your product does not need to be lettuce, and lettuce all the time and seasons. Add some selections or differ it from time to time.
There are several factors that you need to consider. These may include your personal interests and your resources. It is important that you like what you are selling. Of course, you will not sell a product that you will not buy yourself. So, before selling, make sure that you like it and the quality of it. If you like it, others will too.
When it comes to your resources, keep in mind to consider practicality. What is feasible for you to grow and prepare? If it is a vegetable or a fruit business, consider the months that you need to allow for planting to harvesting. There is a ton of considerations.
Putting in mind the climate and space is one of those. To ensure that you will never run out of supply, learn some techniques or strategies in growing such as using artificial lights in colder climates as an alternative for sunlight. This adds to your initial expenses, but it will be worth it in the end.
We are talking of business here, so think of something that is profitable, but never ever compromises the quality of the product. It should be both practical and of quality.
Also, think of product complements. This will add not just revenue but value to the product you sell. For instance, if you plan on selling lettuce, kale, and spinach, also sell vinegar or other complementary sauces.
The idea of reselling products can also be a good way to start if you do not own farmland or space for growing your products. Consider this as a way to help other local farmers. Negotiate with the small growers through wholesaling or bulk buying. Through this arrangement, you do not only help the farmers, but also the environment. Wholesaling or bulk buying lessens the use of plastics and packaging that contribute to the waste of the world.
Aside from the factors mentioned, it’s also good to know the market policies, and ordinances for you to know what is allowed to sell, what is not, and the standard procedures in selling and handling the products based on the set rules and regulations of the market. In the latter part of the article, you will see the products ideal for selling.
- Budgeting for the initial expenses, and planning setups for your stall
It is without a doubt that starting a business is the most crucial part. You think of the products, expenses, manpower, and of course, the place where you will likely sell your products.
A stall rent can be not too expensive depending on the location of the market, its popularity, and the size of the stall. It can amount to 100 dollars to 600 dollars per season.
Most stalls start from zero, without any decorations, or equipment. If a stall has been rented by somebody, he or she usually takes everything that was installed before the turnover. In short, whatever you installed, or wherever your stall is in the market, never expect permanency.
Of course, you will not be spending the whole hours in the market standing. There is a need for you and your sellers to sit, so chairs are important. At the same time, there is also a need for you to purchase furniture or even a table for your products to sit on. An estimate of 150 dollars can buy 2 banquet tables and 3 folding chairs. Though some stalls have it prepared already, most don’t.
For protection from the weather, you also need to prepare a portable tent that does not consume too much space, or that is fit to your rented space which can cost around 150 dollars.
If you aim to sell fresh animal products, then you have to buy some storage to store them and not spoil them. You’ll need a large cooler which may cause 100 dollars. For fruits and veggies, you may also need cardboard boxes.
If you are selling something hot or something that needs cooking, you need a portable burner which can cost around 50 dollars.
Shopping bags may also be a great consideration even if most customers go to the marketplace with a bag on their hands. Just make sure you have some bags for those who come empty-handed.
Cash storage can also be a great consideration so you can leave your money in a locked space. A regular cash box cost about 25 dollars. Remember to prepare coins, and small bills for change before going to the market.
If you are just starting up your business, then it’s good to market it. Printed stuff just like business cards, signages, flyers, inventory papers, and labels for ingredients is a must to make other people notice your business.
There are many good online printers. We use gotprint.com for business cards, postcards, and other items. But we have used other online printers and local printers as well.
You may also opt to prepare credit card processing because local farmer’s markets nowadays accept cards for payments. There are applications like Square that can provide service for it.
- Getting your business licenses and permits
Just like any other business, selling in a local farmer’s market also requires permits and licenses. As a seller, you have to comply and abide with the existing laws in your country and in your prospective market.
The first thing that you must do is give a call to the market’s management team, and ask them about the needed permits, licenses, or requirements that you must prepare to start your business.
There are two major considerations: selling processed foods and selling raw or fresh products.
In some areas, if you plan to sell raw or fresh, or unprocessed goods like vegetables, and fruits, it is less strict. You do not need to register in the Department of Agriculture and Food for instance. But of course, you must still abide by the local health ordinances. On the other hand, when you are planning to sell processed or prepared goods, you need to acquire or register for seasonal food permits, and your products are, of course, subject to public health inspections.
If you grow the products yourself, it’s easy. You can just sell it to your neighbors and friends not needing a permit (check your local laws). But generally, if you want to make your business real, then you need to register with the local or state authority. They will ask you to fill out an application form and pay a certain fee. They also will conduct inspections in your commercial space, and home kitchen if your products are processed making sure that your space is clean, and follows with the health and safety concerns of all consumers.
There are also certain requirements in other countries like food safety certification which you can acquire after attending a whole day or two seminars with a written examination.
Great advice: When you get your license and start your operations, always always be ready for health inspections.
- Making sure that you meet the market’s criteria
Some farmers’ markets are very strict when it comes to policies. In some, resellers are not allowed, even value-added products. If these two are in your plans, you better check with the management team and make sure to comply with their regulations. Do not ever feel bad about it, they only wanted to support real farmers.
Besides, there are still farmer’s markets that are not too much particular with these rules. They wanted to support small entrepreneurs in general and not just growers. Find one that fits your business ideas, or just comply with the regulations if that is what’s practical for you.
- Securing your location at the market
Going around at your prospect market, you will surely see a spot that in your mind is the ideal place for your business to stand. Know that most of the known markets do have a waiting list. This means that there is a high possibility that you will not get the exact location that you envisioned for building your business. It can be somewhere else.
If you want to get the exact spot that you want, go early with your journey. Before the season begins, talk to the operators or the management team. If the results do not change, you need to compromise and learn to adapt. Your location should not make you fret. There will still be people who will come and buy your products. After all, it’s a marketplace where people have been in the business for years and they are still kicking in. You’ll get there too.
- Establishing routines in getting your products
This seems not to be a real problem when your products are your own. If you are the grower, then you can just pick or harvest and pack your products the night before market day.
Consider that you also have value-added products, then you also allot time for the preparation, cooking, and preserving your products. Therefore, you would also be needing some manpower. Some markets require an approved production facility such as commercial kitchens, so another license is something that you need to acquire.
If you are a reseller, there is much work and time that you need to put in to get the job done. You will need packaging as you transport the products. Transportation is also needed. If it’s a small business, then sedan and hatchback types are fine. Otherwise, you need bigger rides, a pickup, or a truck. You also need transportation upon starting the business to carry your tables, chairs, coolers, and burners, depending on your products.
- Creating and Decorating your stall
Marketing is one of the best things that you can do to make your business known. Decorating your stall and putting up signages are two of the things that you can do to market your products silently. Communicate with the management on what is allowed and what isn’t when it comes to designing your stall. What materials, what colors are allowed, and the like.
Make sure that your stall steals attention. Have a theme that can establish your identity. If your focus is sustainability, then make all your designs and decors eco-friendly even your packaging. Instead of using banners, use cardboards for your signages. Use woods, instead of plastic tables and chairs. Be creative and innovative.