Summer’s coming and with the sunshine comes the start of farmers market season. Gone are the days of markets being just a few stalls selling muddy potatoes - markets are about way more than just veggies now. While fresh produce (especially organic) is still a huge draw for shoppers looking for seasonal food, farmers markets now feature a wide array of local artisans, from craft distillers to boutique ice cream makers. Food trucks are also a popular addition to farmers markets, so whether you’re a restaurant looking to do a pop-up event or a chef looking for a startup spot, farmers markets can be a great source of seasonal revenue.
What do you need to get started selling? Once you’ve chosen your location and secured your spot, here are three tips you can sow the seeds for success at the farmers market.
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Know your market
What time does the market take place? What neighbourhood is it in? Knowing your target market helps sets you up for success. If the area is close to a playground and is known for being family-focused then it makes sense to target your offerings to moms and dads who may be there with their kids – perhaps offer things like bite-sized samples or ready-to-grab bundles that help parents that already have their hands full.
If you’re in more of a ‘hipster’ neighbourhood and the market takes place near a dog park then you could consider offering products that might appeal more to that demographic, and keep a jar of dog treats handy to attract four-legged customers (and their owners).
Create exclusive offers
Let people know you’ll be at the market, especially if you are appearing every other week or as a one-off. Social media is the best way to engage your loyal customers and capture new ones. Whilst you’re there, offer market exclusives, such as buy one get one free to encourage purchases. If you’re selling food or drinks, offer small samples to encourage customers to taste and talk about your product.
Make the payment process easy
Take enough money for a cash float for small ticket items but also offer other payment options so you don’t have to hear “I would love to buy this but I don’t have any cash” as a potential customer moves on to the next stall. Sign up for Square and accept contactless credit and debit cards, devices with Apple Pay and Google Pay and chip credit cards, too. The pocket sized reader connects wirelessly to your iOS or Android device and works with Square’s free POS app to enable you to take tap and go cards, NFC devices and chip credit cards. Process all major credit cards at 2.65% per tap or insert and INTERAC at 0.75% + 7c per payment.
Most communities, large and small, have a weekly farmers market. Vancouver has a network of non-profit farmers markets that take place across the city, Toronto has a market on every day of the week and Montreal is known for its many markets. Smaller rural communities also have active farmers markets that usually take place on the weekend.