As you guys know, one of the venues we use to sell our candles are farmers markets, and its our absolute favorite. Our Brentwood and Walnut Creek farmer’s markets, gives us the opportunity to talk to our customers regularly. Farmer’s Markets provide a chill-out setting for both customers and sellers alike, which is a breeding ground for good vibes, and more importantly, amazing ideas. In fact, our subscription service came to us from a suggestion by a customer. In a setting like a farmer’s market barriers are broken and customers have the upper hand, unlike in a traditional brick and mortar store. For a small business like us, there is really nothing like selling in a Farmer’s Market. The atmosphere is relaxed, and relationships are built.
For you the consumer, here are a few hacks on how to really take advantage of being in the driver’s seat in a Farmer’s market environment.
THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM. If the farmer’s market’s hours are 8-12, be there at 7:30. No we really don”t mind if you start foraging our stuff, even if were still setting up our canopies, devoid of coffee. At least for us, we believe that a good early sale is a precursor to a great day. More importantly for you, being there early guarantees you of having the very best of each vendor has to offer. The freshest greens, the newest produce. It is not uncommon to see superstar chefs come down with their Radio Flyer wagons loaded up with the greenest veggies even before we open. Being early also helps you avoid crowds, which get thick at around mid-day to noon, where it could turn into a madhouse. Also during the summer (where almost all farmers markets operate) being there early spares you from the unforgiving heat, which could reach to crazy triple digits at around 12pm or so.
SAY HI TO YOUR VENDOR. Ask for our names, where were from. Build that relationship. Our regulars always get the first dibs on what we have new in store, its the regulars who get a little extra in their bags. The regulars get the extra box of blueberries, the extra half a pound of onions. Even if you don’t buy from the vendor, you got yourself a new friend, and who says no to that.
GO TO THE INFORMATION DESK. Yes, ask for information. The info desk has the hookup to the going ons of the market. They also has inside information on DEALS that different vendors offer that particular day. You can also read up on stuff on the vendors and their products through brochures and information materials.
BARGAIN. BUT BE REASONABLE. Remember, there are various reasons why a vendor is at the farmer’s market. Some of them are because were still starting out, were still a small business, and we don’t work for the MAN. If we made serious cash, our stuff would be in stores. So remember, that extra dollar or two you ask for as a discount is a dollar or two were losing. As much as we really don’t mind, you should actually think twice in asking for a discount, as we have already eliminated the middle man in all of this. If anything, we should all ask for a discount when we go to the supermarket since they can surely afford it. If something costs 23.50 and you only have 21.00, go ask for it, and more often than not, we will say yes to it. But if you ask for 15.00? hmmmm.....
TAKE YOUR TIME. Rome was not built in a day. So to get amazing things, you need to put the time and effort into it. Ask questions. Go and sample every booth. Have you always been curious on what that funny looking vegetable is? Its probably momordica charantia or bitter melon, one of the most nutritious vegetables known to man. Ask on how to prepare it, where it grows, what diseases it can cure. Usually vendors work alone or with very limited help but if you are patient, we shall get to you and we will answer all your questions.
IF YOU CANT GO EARLY, GO LATE. Now this mostly only applies to those who sell perishables but as a vendor, there is nothing worse than loading stuff up back to our trucks. So an hour before we close, vendors start marking down their stuff. Buy one get one free becomes buy one get two free when it gets to closing time. Some vendors even give away stuff just so they don’t have to load them back up, or see their goods rot. This is also the best time to ask for a discount, or reserve something for next week.
Farmer’s markets are oftentimes an indicator on how robust the local economy is. A thriving farmer’s market means a strong neighborhood, and a strong neighborhood affects all of us. Here’s a link I found of the best Farmer’s markets in America. http://www.thedailymeal.com/101-best-farmers-markets-in-america If your neighborhood farmers market is not on the list, maybe its high time for you to visit one to show support. If it is on the list, your friends from the farmers market thanks you, and we look forward to seeing you next week!