The market runs April - October. I'm hoping to go about 2x a month because this is a side job.
Any pointers for newcomers selling at a farmer's market?
Here is my feedback from doing farmer's markets for three years. I enjoy doing it and here is what I do:
I've made fake chocolates from clay (Fimo). They look just like my square chocolates, but are clay sprayed with a clear sealant. Works like a charm in the warm weather and the sun can shine directly on them with no worries!
I do samples. But I just use "end cuts" from cutting my chocolates with my guitar. I put the end cuts in 2 oz plastic cups and cap them. Then, I give out a sample with a small plastic or wooden spoon. That way, it's not a "candy grab" and I control the process. Before a customer gets a sample, they get to hear my "schpeel" and introduction to the chocolates. Then, I tell them what I'm sampling and they get one sample. Works like a charm (for me).
I accept credit cards through my smart phone. This is a good thing and has helped my sales greatly at markets and events.
It's great to meet your fellow vendors and make friends. Give them samples once in a while. If they really like your chocolates, they will send people your way.
I keep my set up simple yet nice enough to suit my brand. Set up and take down take me less than 10-15 minutes. I asked to be put in a spot between two other tents (for shade) and not facing the sun at any time (if possible). My tent is 8x8' and I bought the sides to attach for shade.
On another note, I don't sample to children who come to my tent without a parent. Why - because you never know what they might be allergic to. Most of the time I give samples to the adult and let them share with their children. Something to think about.
Best of Luck!
Excellent points! I'm also a fan of the SquareUp for taking credit card payments, I think it will help greatly bring in more money. Have you noticed any trends as far as weekends you make more or months you make more? I'm planning to do the second Saturday every month (which works out so I will be there the day before Mother's Day and the day before Father's Day!). I've already become acquainted with a couple vendors since using apples and helping make cider last fall and I'm renting the kitchen from another vendor. I'm going to need some berries too so will be seeking new vendor buddies for that. SO far I think my set up will be 2 folding tables (one in the back to set things on) and one in the front with a nice table cloth and I'm planning to get a vinyl sign to hang up and then give out stickers.
I like your policy on not giving samples to kids without their parents, I was thinking of selling "seconds" like many farmers do but it would probably be best to use that for samples! I'll also have molded chocolates but I think I will sample the ganache because I can sell the molded truffles rather than cut up and give away... Do you have a limited number of samples every day? Do you prep them the day before?
Thank you for the feedback!
Answers to your questions Kaydee:
Do you have a limited number of samples every day? - Yes, because I use little (mini) spoons, there is only a very small taste. The samples I bring tend to last through the market. Customers do not need allot to taste.
Do you prep them the day before? My markets start as early as 7 am and I travel up to an hour, so, yes, I prep! Everything is ready to go so I just need to go out the door.
I also use two tables, one 6 foot table in front and one 4' table behind to put things on. Wise idea. My chocolates are kept in coolers on wheels which keeps them happy even when it's warm outside!
I've been doing my local farmer's markets here in northern NSW Australia for a year now and love it (mostly). I had 6 weeks off over summer as my chocolates were sliding off my display (and it was on ice!). I used to give out samples but found it wasted a lot of chocolate even if it was the 'ugly' ones (which was better off remelted and used again). My advice for any stall holder is to make a really pretty display, bright tablecloths, flowers from the garden in vase, nice display of chocolates, not too many choices. I have several flavour's of smalls and several large. Transport the choccies in a cooler with ice bricks (always). Put the chocs in plastic tubs with paper towel on the bottom and between layers to absorb moisture from cooler. Take a cloth and bottle of water to wash down chocolatey residues! I use pretty silicone tipped kitchen tongs to pick up chocs so I don't have to wear those horrible gloves. Hope this helps