Market 'Must Haves'

timmylaz(NC zone8)February 25, 2010

Hey ya'll. After reading texas is home thread about Farmers Market, I think they'll be at the market this year. As I drove to work this morning I thought, hmmm. There a lot of experienced Market Gardeners on here. Maybe we could put a thread together about what we each consider to be our personal "must haves" for the Farmer's Market we each sell our stuff at. It would be interesting to see the common things and also the "must haves" that are unique to our own situation. That ought to be helpful for young texas. I have a check list that I use each Saturday morning (and Friday night)to make sure that I take all the things to the market that I need...we all know it's not just fruits and veggies!! Of course when I left home this morning, not heading to the market, I did not bring my list. I will post my "must haves" tomorrow. Don't get to the market w/out your scale or cash box!!

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I keep my scale and money box in the market vehicle. Along with my tables, canopies, signage (index cards and markers), double-faced tape (to install signage) bungees (to hold canopy to weights) and weights. I also, keep some pint/quart boxes in the vehicle in case I need them. The only thing I take out of market vehicle after market is the excess produce, trash, and profit out of money box. I keep the start up money in the vehicle. I use a cargo van, and keep the box under one of the seats.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 4:05PM
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Hi all, How much under the seat? I may be on my way down. I,ll ad a must have that I consistently lose money on----SWEET CORN!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 4:29PM
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Not much, basically change. But which van, I have 5.

Sweet corn is not worth growing for me. I can buy and sell cheaper than to use my ground space for it when I can grow other more profitable items.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 4:41PM
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I have a cargo van that always has in it the EZUp, extra pint, quart and 1/2 pint boxes, 2 6' banquet tables, various table cloths, signs, calculator, pens. I never keep the cash drawer in the van, that goes in the house after market.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 6:42AM
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I live in a very safe area, no neighbors for 1/4 mile, I do take the money out of the box when I'm in town. I forgot the calculators, but I can use my cell phone if need arises for a calculators. I was using a 12' cargo van that was insulated until mechanical problems took over. Now I have a cargo van without insulation so the 4 6' tables will fit across the van behind the seats along with the 2 canopies. On top of the canopies, we keep 4-6 4' tables. The tables and canopies help keep the produce boxes from 'flying' up and over the seats. After putting in the tables/canopies, I still have over 8' of space for produce (this van is only 10' bed). I miss the 12' van, but it doesn't fit in my space anymore. I use the 25# tomato boxes to load most of my produce for market. I keep them from year to year, if they are still decent. Between the seats, I have a milk-crate with the pens, calculators, extra change and bills, and all of the other necessary items.

Oh, another thing that is nice to have is a receipt book for those customers buying for someone else, or businesses that do want to shop at the farmers market for their businesses (like restaurants). We have a few that make sure to support the market whenever possible.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 11:33AM
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timmylaz(NC zone8)

OK I'm back...good stuff here. Last year was the first year and here is our list. I wish I had a vehicle or trailer that I could leave weekly stuff in, it would save so much effort on game day...or a garage or shed to park next to, anyhow...
Canopy, 2-6' tables, scale, bags, chairs(for the kids), cash box equipped with change,calculator(I have a clip board with storage under and calculator on top),signage(for us it's dry erase or computer print outs with plant descriptions),coolers with eggs, canopy weights, drinking water jug,props(crates/recipes)...we bring the whole family, 2 us and 2 kids, so we bring a little table for them and their hand held games and dvd players. We also cook our own breakfast at the market (tailgating LOL)so I bring a butane burner, bacon or leftover friday night grilled meat, butter, spatula, cast iron skillet, paper plates/napkins/forks. Oh, how could I forget, get it, 2 cold beers packed under ice for after market! Whew, hopefully I can have all that stuff +++fresh picked fruits and veggies + plants ready in time to get a shower and get to the market!! We're psyched for the 2010 season!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 12:24PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

Coffee and a quick stop at the restroom. It's a long day at the market.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:51PM
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We're lucky at my market, the city opened a restroom in a parking garage next to the market. Usually there is at least 1 vendor with help there for the day and willing to 'watch' our stand. Plus I have a friend in one of the businesses adjoining the market for the weekday markets that will let me use their restroom. Our weekday markets are slow enough for 1 vendor to watch 2 stands, especially if they are neighboring.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 4:37PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

Market 'Must Haves'


Marla, You should be careful on how much personal information you give out. We also have restrooms at the market. The Theater Play House, leaves their doors open for a public restroom. Most vendors here are two person setups. No problems there either.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 4:29PM
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We never leave any booth unmanned, plus some of our favorite customers are our local police. Nice to be in a smaller town. For years, we relied on that 1 business, which made it bad on Saturdays when they weren't open.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 9:22AM
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timmylaz(NC zone8)

VERY good point eric!!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 11:50AM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

Did anyone mention a scale? Maybe I missed it. Do you sell by volume only and don't need a legal scale.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 2:43PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

My must haves are different for different markets. However, there are some universal must haves. Here is my top ten!

1) Scale for legal trade. Back up scale for emergencies. I usually bring my small kitchen scales. I weighs exactly the same as the legal one, but it isn't legal. I use it to weigh out beans or potatoes when I put them in baskets or bags. I always go a little over, that is the way I do business. I also use it in case of rain. Electronic scales and water don't mix for me.

2) Extra batteries for Scale

3) Enough change. I usually have cash stashed in my truck for emergency change making. $100 bill for 1 dollar purchase as your first customer of the day. Had it happen several times last year. Extra roll of quarters.

4) All legal paper work, tax info, plant license, receipt book (never used it).

5) Extra smaller containers to downsize display. I always am tearing down my display as time goes on. I also put my produce in smaller containers if I am running low on supply. No one wants to buy the last of anything.

6) Pen for checks, Extra pen for checks, and Back up pen for the pen that the person took when they wrote you a check.

7) Calculator or print off of price breaks for by the pound items.

8) I am usually rushed to get everything set up so I started writing down everything I am selling that day on a piece of paper or on a white board. I list the prices also. After I set up the shelter, tables, table clothes, money box an scales, I set this by the scales and it lets my early customers know what I have or will have. It helped out alot last year.

9) Extra food, water, diapers, toys, (potty seat) however, this is just for me when I have my four girls with me. It isn't all the time, but when you have a little one who has to go and the nearest bathroom is 2 blocks away, I will set the potty by the front of the truck she can go. I will deal with it later.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 4:50PM
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Hubby and I are starting to take quite a few prescriptions. The bottles are great for nickles, dimes and quarters, all separated. I usually put $8 of quarter in a bottle. I keep index cards and markers for my signs, I buy several packs of card. Always keep extra batteries. I only really need that receipt book when I don't have it with me. My scale is water resistance, which makes it easier to help keep it clean. On the legal scale point, our 'weights and measures' inspector states that going over is as bad as being underweight, according to the state. I always go over alittle and then round-off to the nearest nickle. I don't deal with pennies in my prices.

BTW, our snow is almost gone and the MUD is here. YEA!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 5:53PM
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Lot of things mentioned to bring but what about what not to bring. Some of those things I forbid at my stand. For instance, if you have a chair at the market you aren't busy enough and if you aren't busy enough it's probably because you are sitting in a chair. Even children can have jobs to do to make your stand more productive.

Another thing I never had much use for is the scale. It slows the operation down and our state requires certification for scales. I round everything to the quarter dollar and everyone has a belt clip to dispense quarters as needed and an apron for cash. I like when the customers stand in line but no vendor should make the customer wait while he/she has to wait to use a scale or single moneybox.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 9:44PM
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Our market will not allow pets or smoking in our booths.

I have a chair, only for the back=up person to sit down, or time-out chair. We have a minimum of 2 people at any one time during a Saturday, and usually 3-5. This gives 1 person a break time to get off their feet.

Certification for a scale isn't as hard as some people make it, if it's an accurate scale then the weights and measure people will certify at no cost.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:09AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Not all scales are certifiable, at least in Kansas that is. It also cost $40-50 a year to get them certified.

This is what our state weight and measures had to say about this when I asked them several years ago.

In order to have a scale inspected and certified by a licensed Scale Service company the scale must have an NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) certificate that certified the device prototype has undergone a series of tests required by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). Although these programs and places may not mean much to most people, these standards ensure that all subsequent devices manufactured will meet the specifications, tolerances and user requirements of the scale industry. All new scales must meet this criteria.

In Kansas, older scales that have been manufactured prior to 1986 that have been in commercial use and have been previously certified by a licensed service company may be used if the scale meets the current requirements of NIST Handbook 44. (Handbook 44 is the manual that contains the specifications, tolerances and other technical requirements for weighing and measuring devices.). Any licensed service company can provide you with information about commercial scales. In addition, all commercial devices must be inspected and certified every 365 days by a licensed service company. The service company will inspect and test your scale and send the scale test report into the Weights and Measures office. You as the owner/user of the scale are required to keep all scale information for a minimum of five years.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:05AM
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Dang - Kansas realy sticks it to you on the scales. Here in Illinois they have a state department that does the checkes for free - in fact last year they came to the farm to do them (they happened to be in the neighborhood and killed two birds with the proverbial one stone). The scales have to be the NTEP type and the unit has to be sealed to prevent tampering (on our TEC's it's a twisty wire across the bottom lid) - if your seal is broken then it has to go to a repair shop to be checked out and re-sealed which does cost.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 12:22PM
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If anyone in NH is selling anything by weight you need to have a legal-for-trade scale and certified by the Dept. of Ag. Not only does that ensure customers are getting what they are paying for it ensures you do not rip anyone off . . . or yourself. Do yourself a favor and get a proper scale and have it calibrated by the state. It doesn't take that much time at the markets to use a scale and people will consider your business far more professional than someone using a bathroom scale!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 12:53PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

HenHouse: It is really funny how it works in Kansas. The state actually doesn't certify scales. We have companies in Kansas that certify scales. Then the state will come out and certify those companies and they supposedly go out and check a percentage of the scales they checked. The funny thing is that most of the people at the weights and measures departments were laid off in recent budget cuts.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 2:16PM
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At my market, the weights and measure guy came out to the market and certified the scales that were there on that day. Saved me a trip to their office. We only have 1 guy and no office staff, so getting to him is sometimes hard. I hope he comes to us again this year.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:28PM
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victorias_garden(7 Atlanta)

2010 will be my 6th year selling at Farmers' Markets here in Georgia.

Everyone is different, but this is my personal list of must-haves:

1. July in Georgia is HOT. Wouldn't leave home without a cold pack and wet washcloth in the cooler.
2. LOTS of pens. I'm a WIC-certified vendor, which means I can accept WIC vouchers for veggies. The vouchers must be signed by the customer and invariably pens seem to walk away with the customers.
3. Pictures of nursery plants in bloom. If selling plants not in bloom, the pictures will sell them; especially if selling bulbs, rhizomes, etc.
4. Recipes and Samples. When some veggies weren't selling a few years ago, I typed recipes and made samples for the next week's market. Sold out every time; now at every market I have my recipes and samples.
5. I give care sheets with all my nursery plants. This assures those who say they don't have green thumbs to buy plants.
6. In Georgia, having a market scale certified is a snap. Last week, our Ag Inspector came to my home to certify my scale; no charge. He would have come to first market day, but I didn't want the interruption in my business and he was happy to come to my home before market season. Before I bought my scale, I packaged by quantity...took too much time. Also some customers didn't want a certain quantity, or the items I'd packaged together. With my scale, my customers can pick the product they want and the quantity they want. And it's so much easier and quicker for me since I have pre-set prices for different per-pound items.
7. Plenty of bags. Once I gave out of bags because I'd forgotten to replace the ones used the previous week...what a hassle. Now I keep PLENTY packed.
8. Tablecloths for my market tables - red/white checked.
9. Homemade market apron (bib-type).

  1. Always a different hat every week. My customers come to see me just to see which hat I'm wearing...hey, whatever works.
    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 10:34PM
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