Fitting and Proper: Setting Up a Farmers Market Booth that Sells
When you go to a farmers market, there are some booths that are almost overwhelmed with customers and other stands that just don’t do so well. What’s the difference between these booths? When I started my first real business over two decades ago, my display was pretty bad. I barely sold anything. Since that time, I’ve improved how I set up a display, whether it’s selling mulberries and eggs at a farmers market booth or art prints, fiber art and flameworked glass jewelry. Here are some display tips to help increase your sales without a lot of fuss.
Raise the stakes.
When our daughter was born, every penny counted, so I started looking at what successful booths looked like. I realized almost all of them made great use of vertical space. That’s one of the things I love about the potato baskets here, because they draw the eye upward. Look at your booth. How much produce is between your waist and eye level? At the next event, we raised our tables by adding PVC pipe to the folding table legs to get them to the right height. Combined with adding some vertical display space using wood crates and pegboard, we went from $50 in sales to $200 in sales at a single one-day show. Get a counter-height folding chair or stool to compensate for lack of height if you need to sit during market hours.
Dress it up.
People shopping at farmers markets are willing to pay more because they know they’re supporting local farmers. However, they still have a particular concept of how farmers and farm products should look. By taking the time to throw a small square of calico from a scrap bag on a jar or tossing your label on a bag of lettuce, you’ll see greater returns. Add a table skirt using a wide piece of fabric and, if needed, a separate tablecloth to hide boxes, bags and other items tucked underneath.
Light it up.
If your market is located under a permanent pavilion or inside a building, you’re going to want to add some light to the display. Why? It’s actually a trick I learned from our sheriff during a search and rescue exercise. He turned on the headlights on his cruiser and the searchers, who had been traveling in a very straight line previously, began to unconsciously drift towards the lights. It’s a subconscious habit, but one that helps sell more farm products. It also helps people see just how amazing your lettuce, tomatoes and baked goods look.
Sell the experience.
People coming to a farmers market are looking for more than food and farm products. They’re looking for an experience. Putting up a small newsletter or even just a chalkboard with farm happenings not only moves what you’re selling, it creates loyal customers. You can also take this a step further by dressing the part, though you don’t need to go to extremes. Pick up a couple western shirts to wear with your jeans or a calico skirt to create an image. Pair that with branding on your labels, website, packaging and social media pages and you’ll develop a rock solid following.
Make it mobile and social.
2015 was the first year mobile devices made more Google searches than traditional computers? Mobile is hot, and so are apps. If you take a close look at the above picture, there’s a section to like the farm’s page on Facebook and a sticker that they accept credit cards through the Square app. Look at what apps are being used by consumers on both iOS and Android. You can add QR codes through free QR code generators available online, which allows the customer to scan the code to get to your website or social media pages.
If you keep some of these tips in mind, you should see a significant change in your market sales. It can be applied to virtually any other type of show, sale or event as well. Stay tuned for our next blog post that will help you put your market garden business into high gear.
Cathleen Vought is a freelance content and copywriter living on a small farm in southwest Missouri with her husband and daughter, two dogs, a few dozen Shetland sheep and chickens, too many cats and a Morgan-Arabian mare with serious attitude. A strong believer in social entrepreneurship, she has over two decades of experience as a volunteer disaster and medical responder, living the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” She spends her free time working with wild edible and medicinal plants, fiber arts, playing with hot glass at her torch and renovating the family’s historic farmhouse.