May 21, 2018

Farmers Market Thoughts

willie greens organicMy local farmers’ market started up last week and – shockingly for the Pacific Northwest – the weather cooperated enough for us to really get out and enjoy it. While I know many of you in other parts of the US may have already been attending farmers’ markets (as customers and/or vendors) for many weeks or months already based on the weather in your location, this most recent visit reminded me of something important.

If you are a vendor, it’s important to obviously know how you’re being charged for your space. Some markets require a flat fee for vending at the market whereas others may require a commission based on how much you sell (and certainly some require a combination of both sometimes too). The reason this is important is not just to do with how much you owe at the end of any given market day. Also, if you are in a commission-based market then you’re chance of being welcomed back to that market to vend again in the future may be partially dependent on how much money you ultimately pay in those commissions.

Farmers’ Markets are essentially looking for vendors who will help attract customers but also offer a range of products that will entice customers to spend money. Even for nonprofit markets, the money that is paid to the markets helps cover their operating costs and pay any staff they may have. So it’s important to consider that they may very well be keeping an eye on how much you’re paying them in commissions and taking that into consideration for future markets. Like any business, they can’t afford to have too many vendors with low commissions or that means someone is not getting paid.

I don’t say this to scare you or make you jack up your prices beyond what you think customers should and would pay – but it’s something to be cognizant of. As you think about your farmers’ market sales – think about how you can maximize them both from the standpoint of your own sales revenue but also so that you can potentially maximize how much you’re paying to the market managers and thus helping you keep your spot there later in the season or in future years.

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