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Should You Be Setting Up Shop at Farmer’s Markets (Even If You’re Not a Farmer)? Three Reasons Why the Answer Might Be “Yes!”

It doesn’t take a garden full of cucumbers for a farmer’s market to transform your business for the better.

Ah, Fall. Tis the season of apple picking, hot cider, corn mazes and – you guessed it – farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets are up and running pretty much all year long in some shape or form, but people get particularly excited to take a trip to the market in the beautiful season of orange leaves and crisp air. So, this is your chance to grow your business, even if you’re not growing scrumptious produce. Both small-town markets that operate off the sidewalk and mega holiday festivals can help you connect with people that will likely be as passionate as you about what you’re offering at your stand.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to scout out the local markets, grab your tent, and secure a table for your shop right now:

Farmer’s markets are genuinely trending and could be just the venue you need to reach the level of success you desire.

The spirit, ambiance and feeling of farmer’s markets are just right for the time – and people go crazy for this type of experience, especially now. Shopping local is a huge social feat. Even broke college students will mark their calendars every weekend to head out to their local markets and spread a little love (and money) to their friendly neighborhood artists, bakers, and candlestick makers. Shopping at farmer’s markets is cool.

And this time of year, people feel especially drawn to farmer’s markers, festivals and other similar outdoor shopping opportunities. They feel comforted by things that seem “old school” or remind them of a classic past time. There’s also a sense of community. The digitally dominant world we live in today is very fast paced, and ironically, we almost feel less connected with one another. Farmer’s markets allow us to take a step back from the screens and the keyboards and just enjoy the sights, smells and kindness around us. We get to connect with one other and nature, both of which help improve our well-being.  

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to ditch technology to deliver an authentic farmer’s market experience to shoppers. They still want fast checkout, and you still need to keep track of what you’re selling. Mobile point of sale tools are highly valuable. It just means you don’t have to spend all day heads down on your phone trying to build brand awareness on social media. Though, you should encourage customers to post a pic of your amazing goods on their social media feeds. This is grassroots marketing at its best!

Bring your brand to life by inviting people into your personal life.

Arguably one of the most meaningful ways to connect with customers at a farmer’s market is to share your story. They want to know how you got started with your craft, whether you sell pet toys, embroidered t-shirts, glazed clay characters to decorate plants (yes, those exist), or yummy foods reflective of your culture. Talk about how your business started, how many people were a part of it, and how you’re living the dream now. Does your product associate with a good cause with personal significance to you? Is it vegan because you grew up vegan? Did you start your scarf business because your grandma taught you how to crochet at a young age? Customers love to know these things as it helps them create an emotional bond with you and your company. Branding isn’t always just logos and type fonts. It can be so much more than that. Expose your roots, and customers will be eager to support you.

Of course, the logos and type fonts you use on packaging labels still make an impact, too. (You are printing custom-branded labels for your goods, right? If not, what are you waiting for!?) These materials take the authenticity of your story and pack it into a recognizable, unique visual that sets your business apart. So, paint a picture to the background story you are telling. Package and label each of your products with a design that communicates who you are and why you do business.

If you launched your hiking gear business because of your passion for hiking with your dog Patches, then create visuals of a dog on a trail. Dog lovers will go crazy and resonate with your shop instantly. They’ll also remember it the next time they head to the market – or the dog park. Other parents are going to want to know where they got the yummy treats all the dogs seem to be digging (based on how many noses are tracking your customers’ pockets).

If you’re an artisan, people will show off that cool keepsake item they bought last weekend to their friends and co-workers. And you’ll start seeing more people take interest in your work – possibly by paying you a visit at the next farmer’s market or following you to another festival just to see what new works of art you’re offering.

So, add branded labels to everything, post on social when your market shift starts, and welcome every face that comes your way – human or not. You could become a not-so-hidden gem in just a matter of weeks.

The connections you make can build your business in ways you never thought possible.

There is something so deeply special about the farmer’s market scene and the community that comes with it. Seeing people face-to-face creates a really meaningful space for locals to connect with your products. This is a chance for you to do things you wouldn’t normally get to do under a roof (especially a virtual roof). Look at farmer’s markets as a launchpad to a physical store or larger e-commerce marketplace. While at the market, interact with other local businesses that could become customers themselves. Maybe they’ll buy your chocolate to package into their smores kits. You could potentially even work together with other farmer’s market vendors to cross-sell goods in your small brick and mortar stores or restaurants. Co-marketing works wonders for all businesses!

So, bring some samples to share with potential customers and brand champions, even if they’re just your booth neighbors. And try to memorize the names and faces of shoppers and other business owners you meet so you can offer extra loyalty discounts and freebies to establish even better connections.

There are so many new customers, potential partners and friends you can welcome into your business and personal life by simply taking a step outside and pitching up a tent. So, put yourself out there – literally – if you want to make your business known and set yourself up for success.


Editor's Note:

If you haven’t had your first apple cider – or apple cider donut – of the season yet, go grab one from your favorite farmer’s market business this weekend. Then come back so we can tell you about even more ways you can become the “favorite” vendor. See you next time at the Zebra ZSB blog!