Lessons from the Farmers Market

My friend Mike helped get the setup done.

I had my goods for sale at Montpelier for the first time yesterday.  I still have a lot to learn about effectively selling my goods.

  • Don’t forget your tent!   The market was on Saturday morning.  On Friday evening that I realized that my pop-up tent was 150 miles away in Keene, NH with my parents.  Oops.  I didn’t get a sunburn but I did have to model my rather dweeby hat that I wear while doing fieldwork.  I always wear a hat because sunscreen just melts off me in a river of sweat while I work.
  • I still have a “Meat and Yarn Don’t Mix” issue.  My booth had a lot of yarn-based visual appeal, which attracted yarn lovers.  But the Venn Diagram of Yarn Lovers and Sausage Lovers doesn’t have a big enough overlap space, so I wasn’t able to get yarnies to try or to buy the sausage.  At the same time, I am worried that the huge yarn display was actually discouraging the sausage-seeking folks from coming over.  Or maybe they didn’t see the signs.  Bigger signs are a must for next time!
  • Speaking of sausage:  You would think that sampling out sausage would be easy!  Cook a link, cut it up, feed people.  But it isn’t.  Law requires that hot food be served hot, but I had long pauses between visitors where cut-up samples would have cooled.  So I pre-cooked and pre-chopped my sample sausage for reheating on a little butane stove.  Regrettably, the stove caused samples to crisp up and dry out, and one woman even complained (very politely and informatively) that I wasn’t doing the sausage justice with the dry samples.  I wish I knew of a way to better offer samples of our juicy sausage- I don’t expect people to stay to have a sample whipped up for them personally.
  • Continuing my sausage thought-process: In an ideal world, I would be able to sell them as a cooked snack sandwich, but being a food vendor is really different from being an agricultural product vendor and we would need to invest time and money in regulatory compliance.  I would also need another person at the farmer’s market to handle that.  I should look for a vendor who might like to sell my sausage on commission.
  • I noticed that of the two varieties of yarn that I now have for sale, everyone touched both kinds but all of the buyers bought my newer yarn because of the soft, fluffy texture.  I will add the new yarn to the store soon.
  • I am proud to say that I remembered almost everything I would need for a day at the market- markers, tape, cashbox, etc.  I remembered everything except a plate to put the tongs on and my coffee.  Realizing I had forgotten my coffee was disappointing, to say the least.


Published by cloverworks

A Vermont Sheep Farm and Homestead specializing Purebred, Registered Bluefaced Leicester and Border Leicester sheep, in fine yarn and pasture-raised lamb.

3 thoughts on “Lessons from the Farmers Market

  1. Markets get better with experience, I guess. It’s normal to have to feel how clients react and interact with the goods. Each time you may have new inputs and ideas to prepare/show your products. Also, different local markets may have different kind of public attending.
    You may be right that the two product types may need a bit of separation or at least a larger sign to attract people. I wonder if there were other sausage stalls there, how did they marketed theirs?
    The yarn looks lovely, by the way! Thanks for sharing.
    Sorry you had to go without coffee… that must have been hard! I would have been rather grumpy 😉

  2. I had the same issues when selling rabbit and lamb, and also yarn, fiber and small wool crafts. What seemed to work best was setting the space up so that it was almost like 2 separate booths. I struggled with the signage – no matter how large, bright, and in-your-face it was, many people seemed not to see it. Recipe cards or sheets are useful. With your sausage, a photo of of it cooked and ready to eat in poster/banner form might be helpful. I know that photo you shared in a previous post certainly caught my eye!

    1. I am thinking neon flashing/marching alternate. And perhaps a small hanging poster that says “Lamb Sausage” – I bet I can do that cheaply with VIstaprint or similar. Good to know that you’ve persevered through the same struggle

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