Vendor Selling Tips

Woodlawn Farmers Market and the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District

Summer, 2016

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Vendor Selling Tips

A partnership between the Woodlawn Farmers market and the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District

Selling at the farmers market is a unique vending experience. Customers visit the market for a multitude of reasons, including: to support local growers, engage with community, access exceptionally fresh and delicious produce, and to find crops and varieties that might not be available at the grocery store. As a vendor, your job to create a physical and social environment that is inviting to a wide rage of customers.

Below are some tips to help you get started on the rewarding path of vending at the farmers market.

Produce Speaks!

Your product is the hook and must be appealing. Grocery stores have perfected the produce aesthetic with nearly floor to ceiling displays of picture-perfect vegetables. Many customers will expect that same shopping experience. Here are some ways to achieve that:

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An effective way to keep greens fresh in ice water. To improve the visual appeal, a clean tablecloth could be placed inside of the tote to conceal the plastic but keep the bunches in contact with water.

Dialogue

Many market shoppers are there to support farmers. Help them achieve that experience by sharing your story and knowledge with them. Be Friendly. Smile. Stand up. Put your phone away. Give them your full attention when they are at your booth. Ask them questions like what are they making for dinner tonight. Acknowledge regulars and try and learn names.

Offer recipes and suggest ways to cook different vegetables you are selling. Promoting a recipe or dish that uses several of your products is a good way to sell more.

Booth Layout

A well set up booth creates a sense of abundance but also ample space for customers to navigate. Flow is critically important to sales. If the booth is cramped and a customer is already filling the space, other potential customers will walk by. When product is very scant, you may want to consider bringing your table to the front of your tent so customers don’t even enter. Seek to move to two tents or more as soon as you have the product to fill the space.

Food Safety is Paramount

If customers are getting sick from your product, your farm business won’t last long. However, just the perception of unsanitary conditions will cost you customers. Here are some tips for keeping your products safe:

Handwashing Station

If you provide samples to your customers, you must have a handwashing station at your booth. The Oregon Department of Agriculture provides details of handwashing station requirements here:

  1. Provide a minimum water-holding capacity of five gallons in an enclosed container.
  2. Utilize a spigot that can be opened to provide a constant flow of water.
  3. Provide soap; Gel sanitizer may be used in addition to handwashing but not in place of it
  4. Provide paper towels.
  5. Maintain a wastewater collection container with a minimum capacity equal to or greater than the freshwater containerʼs capacity.
  6. Provide a receptacle for used paper towels.
  7. Maintain handwashing equipment in a clean and sanitary manner (rinsing with 50 ppm chlorine/water is suggested).
  8. Use only potable water for hand washing (free of fecal coliform bacteria).

Always wash your hands at the market provided wash station after using the restroom. Don’t use your stall’s handwashing station for that.

Product Containment

Don’t have produce bins or boxes with holes in the bottom. They will leak water everywhere and track mud between stacked bins and eventually onto your produce or tablecloths.

Pets

Even at dog-friendly markets vendors should never bring pets. Politely encourage your customers to keep their pets away from the produce you have on and above your tables.

Final Words of Wisdom

Some additional thoughts on how to become a successful vendor: