I want to do something interesting

veggievicki(7b)February 4, 2013

Our market is very boring. A handful of veggie growers all selling basically the same thing. Thus we aren't growing. I've been scouring the net for ideas of some things I could do to differentiate myself as well as add a little pizazz to the place.

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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Grow Ice cream!

Sorry, just playing.......
Flowers? Jam/jelly? Pickles? Bring in other types of vendors?

I think i'm kind of boring too. You're in good company.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:41PM
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One guy started bringing mushrooms. Those got some interest going. I'm going to try your suggestion of flowers. My daughter had grown some zinnias for a 4h project one year and I toOk some just to see if I could get her a little pocket money. They sold well

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:51AM
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Actually I've seen a vendor selling ice cream. I don't remember if he has cows or goats, but he made the ice cream from scratch and sold a certain number of varieties each week. He had a small freezer that he plugged in to keep the ice cream frozen. It was really good.

Another person grows flowers, just to give them away to his customers versus selling them. He took donations for the seeds, but never really tried to sell them.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:24AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I am always doing something interesting to catch the customers attention. This is either an interesting crop, a sample of something, a recipe, a witty sign or just a huge pile of a crop.

An interesting crop, maybe an odd color of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, lemon cucumbers, or one of my favorite is round zucchini. There are 3 colors. I grow a few plants of each one. They don't sell real well, but they get people to stop at your booth. I would make more money if I charged to pick them up! But now they are stopped, they see how nice my other stuff is and I usually end up making a sale.

Sometimes I give out samples, must check your local markets rules and states regulations.

Sometimes I add a Witty Comment to my signs, One market I was super busy with family obligations the night before. I had to pick just about everything in the dark. SO I added comments like "Midnight Carrots", "Full Moon Zucchini", "Peek-a-boo Peppers" It made people ask and even a few came back and ask if I had any of those "Midnight Carrots" this week.

Finally, a huge pile. I had a massive amount of cherry tomatoes one week, well over 100 pints. I usually set out 30-40 for a nice selection. This time i put them all out. It took 1.5 tables to put them out, but in made for lots of interest.

Not sure if this is what you are talking about, but this is what I do to make things interesting.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:14PM
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I'm always trying something different. One year I grew an incredible amount of gourds. Even though I sold most, I still ended up w/22 extra bushels. After they dried, I turned them into birdhouses, toadhouses, or just some kind of art. I'd paint them up in the colors and mascots of local or professional sports teams, and they drew a lot of attention. I also sell wild crops like persimmons, assorted nuts, and paw paws. I chip up my fruit tree prunings and sell them as smoking wood, and I'll bring a couple of bundles of cut wood along to sell as firewood. Wild mushrooms have also become a popular item to sell. As for propagated 'shrooms, I innoculated some logs last year and will see if they produce this year. I'm also the guy w/white tomatoes and orange and yellow watermelons.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Jrslick, those are really great suggestions! I'm an avid sign displayer. My customer's favorite sign...Best Basil. Simple yet very convincing with the strong aroma it gives as the wind picks up! I also, give free seasonal receipes with purchase (ie: tomato, pepper, etc)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Ha, Your sign, "Best Basil" reminded me of something interesting I read.

In advertising, there are some products considered so similar (like toothpaste, gasoline, cigarettes). Basil could be one of them (arguably).
Because they are all the 'same', they also are equally "the best". So you can legally say "ours is the best", but you can't say one is "better" than the other!

Random tangent......

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:23PM
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I do alot of what Jay mentioned. Some of my signs: "Crying Onions", Pretty Tomatoes" and "Ungly Tomatoes"(the deformed ones that I sell for less when I don't have time to mess with them.
I make up "Salad Baskets", I put 2 mini heads of lettuce(1 red and 1 green),2 med diff colored carrots,1 med sweet red onion,1 med cuke and 1 cup of mix colored cherry toms. I also do a "Stirfry Basket": 2 sm eggplant,snow peas,2 sm zukes, 1 med sweet red onion or leeks,fennel,okra or whatever else works. These sell GREAT here !!
In early/mid May I make "Farmer's Market Cookies"(sugar cookies) farm animal cut outs , the pigs, cows, and ducks sell the best. I frost them completely with frosting paint (whatever color), then I make 2 more colors,put into 1/2 oz porsion cups fill 1/3 full w/covers. then I put 1 cookie,2 cups (2 diff colors) and 1 paint brush into a baggie. (I buy a box of 100 at a craft store).Here is a pic of the ones I do in Oct. The kids love to paint them the way they want to and lick the brush !!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I'm definitely going to do some baked goods. We have a cottage law now and I used to have a cake bakery so I think I have some good skills I that. I'm also thinking about some pet items, healthy dog treats, bird treats maybe even some cedar houses and feeders.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:40PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Baked goods sell better than veggies but have higher overhead. I usually bake one thing on Wednesday nights. A double layer cake in a glass cake stand that is cut to order (small paper plates and saran wrap, optional fork) sells best. People like how that looks.
I sell flowers and herbs but they take way more time than it is worth and they sell poorly.
As for other stuff, I feel we need to get some other vendors with exciting products. I would like to see more ready to serve food, especially food trucks with corn dogs or whatever. We had an ice cream vendor one summer.

I do baskets or 'kits' but they sell well sometimes and poorly other times.

I've done other stuff that people refused to buy despite loving because they felt it was an idea they could then make themselves, such as painted herb boxes, garden in a pot and that kind of thing. I had this cute wood box my mom painted wonderfully shabby chic and I put around 6 herb plants in it. It was very heavy. I brought it week after week and every one complimented it but no one would buy it. I ended up giving it to the CSA that claimed it first. However in our area it is a little rural/suburban and so people like to do their own thing and grow their own tomatoes and stuff.

My goal for increased sales this year is having greens through summer. I think that is something people want.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Thanks for the idea on the cake. I definitely Plan to do baked goods. I had a successful cake shoP, leased it out to a young gal because I had gotten more business than I could handle with my good paying part time job. She ran it in the ground in a year. But people still ask me about my buttercream frosting when they recognize me. Do you think the cake does better than cupcakes?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:05AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I think it does but who knows? I made cupcakes last week and didn't sell a ton, but many times sell a whole cake. I use local eggs and local sunflower oil along with cane sugar to avoid GMOs and write it on the sign.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:09PM
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In my market, cupcakes sell better. I think it's because sometimes a whole cake is too much for 1-3 people to consume. Maybe some small cakes, I notice that the grocerys are doing that.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:17AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I don't sell whole cakes. I sell slices, cut to order off a cake in a cake stand.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:53PM
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That makes sense. At our market, those pieces would have to be pre-cut and pre-wrapped in a certified kitchen. In my opinion, there's getting to be TOO many rules.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:25AM
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Can't sell baked goods here without a commercial kitchen and a bakery license. That was one thing that bugged me at our old market, seems like most people came for the bakery (walking around eating "dirt bombs" - some sort of muffin?). I think I'm going to do market at YMCA this year, MM is the nutritionist and she's pushing the healthy local stuff. No one wanted kale or chard at old market, she says they'd sell out at hers...

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:28PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

We are lucky to have very lenient rules.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:55PM
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I think they'd let us try about anything as long as it was legal. It's small and has struggled. Can't get customers because of lack of farmers can't get farmers because of lack of customers

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:31AM
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Most of the rules are state and county rules.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:43PM
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I've been doing my own version of a CSA basket (but all grown on my land). Basically, an assortment of what is freshest, and in abundance that week, and a slightly discounted price, already put together for the customers... They don't have to pick up individual items, one stop shop. And with the more "unique" vegetables, I provide at least one recipe to utilize it.

Food for thought, works well for me!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 10:56PM
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I'm growing the little purple ornamental peppers which I will transplant into small pots and sell when the peppers are on the plants.

Also am starting lots of those little colored sweet peppers because they will ripen sooner and hopefully get some customers before the big ones are ready.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:38PM
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I think at our market there are too many people bringing the same thing. When you walk down the tables you see almost identical products. Not only that, they are pretty much the same thing that is in abundance in people's own gardens. And being a rural area, a LOT of people garden and simply give away their extras when it is abundant, making it even harder to make the farmer's market appealing. We have one really serious market gardener who is using high tunnels and getting out the lettuces and other cold crops, which typically here in the South, people just don't traditionally grow those. They're really the heart of this market. It seems people are bored with what is offered. I've seen many walk straight down the tables, turn around and get in their car and leave. It seems we're missing an opportunity, but I'm not sure what that is.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:36PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I also live where people have their own gardens much of the time and that is getting worse. First I sell heirloom plants which brings in money but hopefully doesn't keep them from buying stuff in the season. Anyway I think the only thing to really do is get stuff to grow out of season. That is why I spent money on low tunnel building supplies and shade fabric.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 9:33PM
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I think you're right. Here I think the only way to do much good with veggies is to 1) do season extenders like you said 2) do stuff that people don't traditionally grow. Here that is stuff like broccoli, asparagus, snow peas, lettuce, herbs. Everybody has tomatoes and squash 3) do old timey stuff that's not in the store. By that I mean stuff they ate as a kid that's not typically at Krogers. Here that is purple hull peas, butter beans, and specific varieties of corn. 4) do stuff that is too big spaced for back yard gardens. Here that is watermelons and cantelope. 5) do stuff that's in the store but not fresh. Okra for us. Grocery store okra is gross. 6) fruit. Not many vendors have fruit but they all have tomatoes, peppers, squash and green beans. These are my strategies, plus next year I plan on trying to have a pretty good selection of seedlings. Lowe's has just about shut down all the nurseries in our town. The Bonnie plants have gotten pretty darn high and I think I can price competitively against them as well as offering single pots of some things. For example, who wants six Jalepeno plants. I get strawberry plants from my supplier for 24 cents each. What a rip off what Lowe's charges for those!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 9:12PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Good points! No one grows broccoli but everyone eats it. No one else at market sells it but I had 2 bad years without having enough to bring to market.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:24PM
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I've got 144 plants set out. We'll see how they do. I've had trouble getting them to make much of a head in the spring because they tend to bolt before I can get any size on them. I really pushed it, set them out late January. I did some under a low tunnel and some in the field. They're both at about the same growth, although one variety is doing a little better both ways. I've had much better success in the fall garden, but our market shuts down in October. This year I'm going to try to winter them over. If it looks like it will get too warm, I'm thinking I'll cut them and sell as florets, worst case scenario.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:22AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

If we have winter markets here, how much more so should you!
I am planting about 240 broccoli plants in spring. 1/3 will be pulled after heading and the rest will be allowed to make side shoots. Some of them are broccolini plants too. Then in summer I will plant about 100 more for fall. Here it is really hard to get that kind of plant to produce before fall. That means I have to start them in June and plant out in July. Usually you aren't thinking about fall stuff in June. I am using white on black plastic and moving the low tunnel hoops there and using shade fabric on it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:46PM
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