It seems to me that farmers markets are not very profitable operations. As far as I can tell, In NE TX at least, the farmers market is at best a good place to advertise yourself. It seems that the farmers market is a good place to get the word out for a CSA, pick your own, coop, or something else. But my question is: what could that something else be? and according to experience what marketing model has been profitable for you?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 6 years ago
I think that 'profitability' for farmer's markets is largely relative to location.
In rural America, where commercial agriculture is king, most people could care less if something is 'Organic'. Hell, in some regions, claiming 'organic' tends to put you in the enemy's camp as far as the locals are concerned. You are challenging how their family has been growing food for generations.
To demand higher prices, you need to be in a well populated region where incomes are higher, and more people see an advantage to buying organic produce.
By the same token, if you live in such a region, your cost of living will probably be higher. So even if you can charge twice as much for tomatoes (or peas, or...) as your country cousin, it costs you twice as much to live. The cheaper land is usually further from those bigger cities, so you will spend more time and fuel getting to and from the farmer's market. It is all about a trade-off. How far do you need to go to get affordable land, vs how far do you need to go to find a market willing to pay the prices that you need to make it worth your while?
Another thing I see is that almost all of the vendors seem to have the same things for sale. Everybody thinks they will get rich selling tomatoes for $x.xx per pound. But if all 94 vendors have bushel baskets full of tomatoes, they have probably outgrown the saturation point of the local tomato market. Find out what you can grow in quantity in your region that is not represented in the other vendor's selection. Those are the products that will attract attention to your produce stand. If I walk past 20 displays of tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelons, I probably won't slow down. But, when I get to the first display of peas, string beans or cabbage, I'll stop and take a look. Salad greens is another one. Dozens of vendors each have dozens of varieties of salad greens. How much salad greens is a typical buyer going to buy on any given day? Not a lot.
Trying to get an assortment of popular local foods that the other vendors don't offer is a great way to get them to stop at your stand.
Without subsidies, chem-ag food costs four times more than organic. Or this tiny ad:
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