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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thoughts about setting up your table at the Famer's Market

This is an older photo of me at my market table.  I will be taking new photos this week and will post my new "set-up" a bit later.   I met a lovely gal on twitter the other day and we began a dialog as she is starting her own jam company and wanted to know about my experience with Farmer's Markets.  Her questions came at the most perfect time.   I only have experience of doing Farmer's Markets in Florida so that will be my knowledge base.  This write up is by no means all inclusive, here are just a few main points to begin your planning.  Visit a few different markets first to see how they feel and how busy they are, then place your application and find out their specific requirements.  The markets here are much busier in the Winter months probably the opposite of Farmer's Markets in the Northeast and West.  Novemember and December are my busiest months. I expect to be selling upwards of 225 jars at my main market which is open from 7:00 AM till 1:00 PM.  If you are just starting out, my advice to you is to bring at least 50 to 80 jars to the market to “test” the waters. Your table will look beautiful and full. If/when you run out of something, you are creating a demand for your product. I price my products all the same (ridiculous I know)—I just want it to be easy both for myself and the customer. Some products I make money on, others break even, that will be a personal choice for you.  I calculated all of my costs on each product, I took the “middle” cost and tripled it. I am very interested in how other small companies do this.  I noticed most of the other vendors have different prices on all of their products,  and I feel pretty sure they base it on the direct cost of ingredients.  With the flow and ebb of the seasons, sometimes I make a lovely profit and sometimes a just make a small profit on the same product.  In calculating your pricing, you have to be sure you will still make money when you wholesale your jams in the future--if that is part of your plan. I also sell pickled vegetables and I offfer my customers a mix and match any three for $3 less than purchasing individually.  People seem to love the chance to purchase three for a discount.

Pay to have a beautiful banner and use beautiful tablecloths. Make the display interesting and use different heights to display the products—it gives people a place to rest their eyes and makes the shopping more enjoyable for them. Offer samples of all of your products, be generous and passionate. Some resources that are current right now, you can purchase taster spoons here:   You get 3,000 of them in each box so you never have to think about giving 10 samples away to one customer. Pay a little extra to get the cub shopping bags—I use Nashville Wraps. For those that don’t carry their own recyc bags, it makes your product stand out and they can reuse the bag for gift.

Offer recipe cards so give folks ideas on how to use your products. A lot of people don’t realize how versatile the jams are and how many things you can do with them. So…for me even as my wholesale business grows,  I want to always continue the Farmers’ Markets.  There are my my test market, I get live feedback and I get to charge retail which I love!
Make sure you have all of your licensing—I display mine to give customers utter confidence and to comply with the law (more importantly).  Make sure that your labels have all of your business/contact information, expiration dates and ingredients listings.

I am a certified kitchen manager, I have a state license from Dept of Agriculture and a County license. Each State has their own requirements.  The health inspector twice a year to inspect our kitchen.

More on this later and I hope you will find this helpful.


  1. this was SO helpful to me! our local downtown market currently has a 6 month to 1 year waiting list, so i will be exploring other farmer's markets and shops to start. thank you again for everything, kindred spirit!

  2. HiCosmiccowgirl! This post was meant for you :) Be sure to put yourself on the waiting list and then I would ask the market manager if they need or have openings for any specific products. Even if you can get in with a different line at first and then add your jams when there is an opening, you will be establishing a good customer base at the market and getting wonderful exposure. You just might be able to find a local retail outlet for your jams and refer your customers there while you a waiting! You are so welcome my kindred spirit!