Here are some things to consider if you’re deciding if becoming a vendor is the right choice for you.
What are you going to sell?
If you intend to sell produce, you’ll want to start planning several months ahead and make sure you have enough variety to get you through the whole market season. Choosing fruits and vegetables that mature at different times will help ensure you have a steady supply. You also want to plan if you want to have any homemade goods like jam or salsas available. Then you will have to prepare what you’ll put your produce in like baskets or jars for jam. To start, you’ll want to think about what kind of budget you have.
What’s your budget?
Like many businesses, there is some startup money that you’ll need even before you start selling. The first thing you’ll want to check is how much a stall fee is at your market. You’ll also want to confirm what comes included with that fee, a tent and table or just a space? Here are some other things to consider in your budget:
- Marketing pieces or signs
- A table to display your signage and samples
- Chairs for you and your employees
- Tent for weather protection
- Cold or hot storage
- Lock box for cash
- Small bills and coin rolls for making change
- Carryout bags
- Credit card processing (if you’re going to choose to accept credit cards)
What permits and licenses will you need?
Make sure before you start selling that you have the required permits or licenses. You can usually reach out to the farmer’s market’s management team for more direction.
If you sell prepared or processed food, you may be required to get seasonal food permits and submit to periodic health inspections. If you do have to register with the state or local authority, you’ll need to fill out an application, pay a fee and submit to any required inspections. You may need to obtain a food safety certification too, which is an additional expense.
You’ll most likely also be asked to carry liability insurance for your business. You’ll want to discuss getting a new policy, or having this coverage added to your policy with your agent.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to look into setting up a formal legal structure for your business. Using an LLC or S-corp will help provide additional legal protection.
How much time can you commit?
Along with getting up early and spending the majority of a day at the farmer’s market, you’ll be working throughout the week. As we mentioned earlier, your work will start months before the actual market opens. You’ll have to make sure you have time to plant, grow and pick any of the harvest you’re growing.
You’ll also want to start your marketing efforts before the farmer's market. Getting your licenses and materials ready will take some planning beforehand. When the market starts, you’ll want to promote your booth on different platforms as well. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to gain a following.
Being a vendor at a farmer’s market is more than just showing up once a week with produce. The hard work is worth it if you find yourself with a fulfilling hobby with some extra money. If you are looking to start selling, or already do, reach out to your Farm Bureau agent to make sure you are properly covered.