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How To Make More Money At Market

 
Travis Schultz
pollinator
Posts: 302
Location: South East Michigan Zone 6
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This is how I have doubled my profits at market, very easily and efficiently.

Started listening to jack spirko a lot this winter, and have learned a ton about bringing in more money at market.

Last season was my first market season, I didn't bring home more than $300 any week. We were growing on 4k sq ft of 100sq ft beds in 2014 and 15. I doubled the size of the garden, 80 5' wide beds this year. So all together with pathways I am at 12k sq ft. And I'm realizing that with micro greens I can make way more money per sq ft than I ever thought possible. I just finished my 3rd week of market yesterday, and started the market season off with making 375, 2nd week made 610, and 3rd week 618. I didnt pick as much for the third week because it was 90degrees and supposed to storm, but I still managed to do my personal best.

Not much money to live all year off of some of you may say, I would agree. But here's the kicker; we are doing this as a part time job, I only put in between 20 and 30 hours a week during spring months. Less the rest of the year. I am a contractor and my wife is in retail. So this is making a normal paycheck for me on a Saturday and I'm home by 3pm. So it's actually paying more per hr than my $20 an hour job (after taxes). And my accountant can work his magic at the end of the year so I pay very little tax on market money.


That's the cold hard numbers for you, but my garden has barely begun to produce yet in retrospect. They are calling for a hot dry summer here in MI so I put down 300 each of tomatoes and ground cherries. And cherry toms have the biggest profit margin for me.

I started doing sunflower sprouts and selling them as a salad booster or as a stand alone salad, they are delicious I might add. They sell themselves and look beautiful so they are bringing a lot of people to the table. I plan to grow them all season, every week I will soak and plant more. $5 per quart basket and they sold out in an hour. They also barely feed on the soil because they are using the energy stored in the seed, so your building organic matter with very little actual nutrients used.

We did our homework and found a market we thought would be lucrative for us. Even if you have to drive a distance, it's still better to drive to a good market than make no money at a bad market. Youre doing all the same work, so at a good market you can sell each item for a couple bucks more, and they sell. As long as you offer a premium product.

I have been using fb to market in the area that I'm selling in, yesterday I had 2 new people say they found us on fb and come down to buy food. One person spent 25 bucks. They both went on to shop at other vendors of the market, which is good for everyone. Monopoly is no good at any market, we want diversity.

My product list yesterday and price per qt or bunch.
Radish 3, red ruso kale 4, spinach 4, sunflower sprouts 5, red baby lettuce 4, basil 2, cilantro 2, asparagus 5 per lb, green onion 3 per small bunch, Chinese cabbage thinnings 3, and rutabega thinnings 3.

Notice I'm marketing thinnings that I have to cut down anyway, so I do my thinnings a day before market and help keep the table full. We sold everything in under 3 hours. I may have actually over marketed my products, because other vendors are all asking why so many people are lined up at our booth when there's 7 other vendors with similar produce.

Several reasons why, I am passionate about what I do, and I love growing awesome food and I'm excited for others to try it. I spent time and effort on my display, in the off season and the day of, really thinking about how to display my produce to look like a piece of art. I spend up to 15 minutes with new customers talking about why my product is special, which brings me to my next key to why I sell out;

features tell and benefits sell.
What is my product? My product is nutrient dense, it tastes better because of it, it's better for you, it was grown locally with love, it's grown with 65+ other crops in a small space so it's biodiverse. My product makes real positive change in the world, and I make sure every customer that will listen will hear those features and benefits. I have multiple banners that say it also so if I can't talk to everyone you at least can read from a distance why it's different, and why it's special. They quickly learn how the USDA tells it's organic farmers that there are only 18 elements needed for maximum plant growth, which is based off profits out for inputs in, why make a plant healthier if it will be just as big with less input? Well maybe those plants will need sprays and powders, and need more USDA certified and taxed products to make it so they can even sell the product down the road. So they trap the farmer in a hole by doing this. My customers are then told that I add over 80 elements and minerals to the soil through the use of organic omri listed soil amendments. That wows them. Because it puts it into perspective how much better my product is than even many certified organic products. Once they buy they are told to find us on Facebook because I have lots of pictures and video showing my vortex brewer, compost, and the rest of my garden, this locks them in as a life customer as long as I keep producing an awesome product.

Do I believe all of what I m telling them YES I DO! Thats what makes it so easy to sell. Because of passion and gusto about local nutrient dense food.

So why the big increase in money made? Social presence, putting lots of effort into my display, CHARGING THE PRODUCTS WORTH, and studying marketing tactics, understanding my customer base, and understanding my ad set. You put the work in, you can get the money out. You want to roll by your own rules and agenda, and want to think your going to change the consumer than you will most likely fail. Trillions have been spent in the last 60 years to make all of us the kind of consumer they want, so even though these people are buying local and know about how screwed up the world is, they still live in a city and are drawn to BRANDS like anyone else. What have I done? I have built a brand.

Successful small business ownership is the last true form of liberty, and by doing so you are helping to make the biggest difference in the world. Sorry but its not being a vegan, or a hippie, or Democrat or Republican. It's being a hard-working, passionate individual, and doing what you love (festivals, music, and weed is not going to change the world), but you should be free to do it, just don't lie to yourself about the effect it has on the system.

So please ask questions I am happy to help others increase profits. Food should not be cheap, and the value of food in the world is an illusion due to tax subsidies that make it cheap.
Listen to jack spirko and Paul Wheaton, learn from them.


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K Putnam
Posts: 189
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
15
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I would immediately be drawn to your stand, particularly by the poster in the lower right corner. Getting nutrition from my food is more important to me than it being labeled organic.

I always tend to go to the same couple of vendors. The ones from the west side of the mountains, usually because they are the friendliest and have the best display. The ones from the east side of the mountains because they consistently have the best hot-weather produce.

I also like unique items, so I would be drawn to your sunflower sprouts. Heck, I was happy to buy lamb's quarters because they were already bundled nicely.

Nice job and here's to a profitable summer.
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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Thanks for the post travis! I look forward to hearing more.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I am a big proponent of customer training. I have only marketed through delivering baskets directly to customers. My number one rule is, no complaining, absolutely none. Everyone that I dealt with was completely aware of quality and of the fact that there were many more people who wanted my product, than I could supply. It was made clear from the beginning that they would receive whatever was in season. It was usually a mix of things I grew and wild harvested fruits. The fruit was a big hit and much less work for me. Organic apples sell for $2 a pound in Victoria. When they were in season, I would often include more than 10 pounds of apples in a $25 basket. Everyone understood that this windfall was only available for a few months.

I only had to drop one customer due to her complaints, in a two-year run.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9421
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you Travis for being so open about what you're doing and how you're doing it. I feel it is so important for us in permaculture to share our experiences as honestly as we can.
 
Travis Schultz
pollinator
Posts: 302
Location: South East Michigan Zone 6
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chicken dog fish food preservation hunting tiny house
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I am a big proponent of customer training. I have only marketed through delivering baskets directly to customers. My number one rule is, no complaining, absolutely none. Everyone that I dealt with was completely aware of quality and of the fact that there were many more people who wanted my product, than I could supply. It was made clear from the beginning that they would receive whatever was in season. It was usually a mix of things I grew and wild harvested fruits. The fruit was a big hit and much less work for me. Organic apples sell for $2 a pound in Victoria. When they were in season, I would often include more than 10 pounds of apples in a $25 basket. Everyone understood that this windfall was only available for a few months.

I only had to drop one customer due to her complaints, in a two-year run.


I do not coddle my customers. They have an incredible oportunity to have the freshest food on earth without having to grow a thing, so if you want to haggle me or complain I'm done with you because your going to end up costing me money. Coddling customers is for the big corporations and retail. But if I make a mistake and someone complains that something's dirty for example, I will refund their money no questions asked. But if dirty to you is finding a few grains of sand in the bottom layers of a bunch of lettuce than I will not entertain it. The product would be twice the cost if I pent that much time cleaning.
 
Kevin Wilson
Posts: 21
Location: Powell River, BC
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Here (BC, Canada) microgreens and sprouts are classed as "high risk" products and you can't officially sell them at markets without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
 
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