We’ll take a break from plants for a couple of days. Lets talk about the actual physical act of selling at the farmers market. Get to know the market manager. Introduce yourself, tell him or her what you would like to sell. Some markets restrict their vendors to plants and produce. Some markets let you sell home made stuff if it is plant related. Most allow a mix of plants, veggies, baskets and food made at the market,as well as things like baked goods, planter boxes and bird houses.
Once you have met the manager come back and visit every weekend. This allows you to do your research and touch base with the manager each time you visit. It helps to know the manager and what he or she sells. And the more they know about the easier it will be for them to place you in the market. They usually don’t want to put 4 basket sellers next to each other.
I like being at the end of a row. Even if it’s the wrong end. I do one smaller market where I am at the Good end, closest to the traffic flow. This works out great for me and the manager says it makes the market look better if someone with lots of color is on the end. At the other market I do I am at the wrong end. There is parking at both ends but folks seem to favor parking at the other end as there are a lot more spaces. I have found that regular market customers will at least look at every stall. If they parked at the other end from my stall I have enough color out front to at least attract their eye. The folks that enter from my end always get a nod and a smile or a Howdy. I make eye contact with each one. They will either stop and shop or as they head back to their car they will pass by again and remember your hello, which will usually get them to stop in..If you can’t get an end stall at least let the manager know you are looking forward to moving toward the end as he has openings.
Stick it out. Your first day may be gang busters. It may also suck. Don’t give up. It takes customers time to get used to seeing you, and seeing you in the same location. Just keep bringing your best stuff and keep your product looking good, watered and clean. Try also to have something that no-one else has. I have at least a dozen customers that will buy a Lewisia almost every time they come to market. This plant has different color flowers at slightly different times so it’s easy to get folks collecting the whole series.(please note,the author just figured out how to create a link with the subject word,click on the above blue Lewisia, woohoo).
If you are there every week folks will get used to seeing you and will be more comfortable with coming into your stall. Speaking of which, can they get into your stall? If someone else is standing in the way talking to a friend or neighbor the other possible customer will just walk on by so as not to inconvenience the talker. You either have to have a wide enough center aisle to fit two customers or you have to practice your traffic directing skills. One of the hardest things to do is to politely ask one customer to take their family reunion out into the main thruway. It’s not impossible but you have to consider exactly what you are going to say to that person. If someone blocks my entrance and I see another customer walking toward my stall I will excuse myself as I glide gently past the talkers while saying something to the approaching customer and inviting them in to see something special. This will give the talker a hint. I don’t think they are trying to be rude but who doesn’t like to stop and talk to a friend. Keep that in mind.
Most markets allow a space of 10′x10′, some allow more depth but are stuck on the width. I have found the folding plastic 6′ long tables at Home Depot are what works for me. They are only around$40 and you can get a bunch of them into a pickup or van. I arrange my ez-up canopy (cheap but adequate) at the back of the stall away from the main walkway. I then put two tables on each side of the center walkway. That leaves me 6′ for the middle aisle. I then arrange a 4′ long table at the back of the stall at the back of that 6′ wide walkway. I Usually stand behind that 4′ table but leave just enough room to squeeze between the tables, not enough room so the customer feels it’s okay to walk back behind the table and stand with you. I am going from behind that table up to the display tables constantly to actually show the customer something. I find if the customer asks me a question about a plant if I just answer them they may or may not buy that plant. If I actually walk over and pick the plant up and answer their question as well as give them a few other of the plants good points they will almost always buy it. I just seems like the more you are into your plants and the more you impart to the customer the more excited they will get about the plant.This may sound like crap, but it’s true. The aura you give off is picked up by the customer be it positive or negative.
Okay my typing finger is getting tired. See you tomorrow. Both of you.