Midseason is a good time to make some upgrades to your farmers’ market booth. The changes attract new and returning customers. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
· Cover your tables with new washable vinyl tablecloths in a solid, neutral color. Vinyl tablecloths are stain resistant and can be easily wiped down for repeated use. Solid colors do not distract from your products as a patterned tablecloth might.
· Hold a raffle at your booth. Raffle off a special product or gift basket from your booth to increase foot traffic. Purchase ready-made perforated raffle tickets at any office supply store. Sell the tickets for 50 cents apiece. State that the drawing will be held at a specific time. Pull the tickets and offer the prize.
· Publicize special events, such as holidays, with eye-catching decorations and activities for children. An example is to host an Easter egg hunt at your booth. Last year, one of the vendors at the St. Louis Farmers’ Market brought a flat of wheatgrass and hid small chocolate eggs in the grass. A cute plastic chick and flat was placed at eye level for small children. It caught their interest. When a child found an egg, they were given a flower as a prize. On Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, place photographs of your loved ones in the booth. Offer a discount to US military members during the Veteran’s Day weekend or small pumpkins for carving at Halloween. Extend a discount of perhaps 10 percent for customer appreciation on your farm’s anniversary date.
· Maintain the appearance of abundance. Move your product from larger containers to smaller baskets when your stock is low. Half-empty large containers make it seem that your booth is sold out, which tends to discourage shoppers.
· Offer free samples of your product, if your market allows. Check with your market master to make sure that you are following the market rules. Remember to keep cold items cold. Always use tongs when handing out samples.
· Hand out recipe cards featuring the products you sell.
· Bring photos of your farm. This can be a simple photo album with legible captions, a bound self-published book from Shutterfly (shutterfly.com) or an electronic digital photo frame that cycles through a series of farm photographs.
· Update all signs and promotional material to reflect your current contact information and products available for sale.
· Get a Square® credit card reader for your booth so you can accept debit and credit card sales (www.squareup.com). The Square® reader plugs into your smart phone or iPad. The company charges a 2.75 percent transaction fee, which is easily passed on to the customer; there is no charge for the device. You will have to link your checking account information to the company’s secured accounting network. According to marketing professionals, customers spend 20-25 percent more when they use a credit card.
Here are a few more guidelines to enhance your sales:
· Smile and greet people in a friendly way.
· Stay standing. To be ready to serve customers, do not keep chairs in the booth.
· Do not wear sunglasses; customers like eye contact!
· Wear neat, stain-free clothes.
· Display your business cards; they are a cost-effective form of advertising.
· Do not eat or smoke in the booth.
· Maintain an email list of your regular customers; keep them updated about your farm and product availability.
(By: Miranda Duschack, Lincoln University Small Farm Specialist)