Problem finding market
As mentioned on cost-cutting thread, I have had a hard time marketing my produce. Market I have been at for 2 years had no parking though on a busy street, cut out the Wed markets during July last year (not that I had anything to bring in 2011, but I was counting on it for 2012), and I only sold about $50/week (with an occasional better week, but some worse ones too early in June and Labor day).
I've been looking for a new market, but just was notified (again) the one I've been on waiting list for past couple of years ha no openings for "green" vendor. I was hoping with large organic farm up the road from them moving (going out of business?) this year that they might have space.
So, the closest markets to me are (in no particular order since it's a question of which one is the least-worse choice, not the best choice):
1. Market I have been at, under new management, may be moving location and day, I have not heard anything from new MM so complete unknown but fees had been only $125 for fairly long season, June 1 til mid-Oct (20 weeks), I did unexpectedly well in June last year with salad greens and my late season tomatoes were the biggest sellers so I like the long season.
2. New market (started 2011) at YMCA, pretty good parking, but I hear you really only get YMCA traffic since parking isn't enough to support Y members AND people stopping by for market, plus a small vendor area right at the front door, they want 15 vendors but as o a week or so ago they only had 3, reports from other farmers were that sales were disappointing (but they do multiple markets, this may just have been the smallest one, I'm pretty small-time so maybe if big guys drop out I have a chance?) Only $95, but need to get food-stamp certified, and only 12-week season from late June to mid Sept.
3. Market just a couple of miles away from #2, but set up on asphalt, good traffic (but I think farmstand across the street benefits more from having market there since he doesn't have to pay fees but gets traffic - most of which is heading on his side that time of night, no need to make a left). Started in 2011, but fees doubled to $200 in 2012 (staying the same for 2013?) for only 15 week season (mid June to late Sept).
My other options are to try to increase on-farm sales (but I have no frontage, off a cul de sac and a 700ft driveway). I can put up signs on a main road (state highway, non-divided) 1/2 mile from us. I have a couple of steady customers at DH's work (1 of whom buys $30 of tomatoes each week when I have them), but sales there are limited by his ability to bring produce in for people and keeping it cool during the work day. We are located in a blue collar neighborhood in a somewhat rural area (many have small gardens on 1 acre lots), I can sell some things people don't have room to grow but tomatoes (my biggest seller at market) is not one of them.
The kids go to school in a more affluent town (where Y is located) but I have not gotten any parents to buy anything yet even though I have talked it up, and given tomato seedlings in labeled pots to 2nd grade class last year after doing a unit on soil structure and plant life cycle in class. People there have bigger lots but I don't know how many garden, there is a town-owned farm in town (among others) that offers a CSA, but that just cut number of subscribers and raised costs, there may be an opportunity there but there are other family farms closer to center of town that have farm stands. The town tries to promote agriculture by putting together a "sampler" but last year I tried to supply new potatoes, didn't have enough to fill their boxes and I ended up selling them for $1 more per lb than what town offered me at market. Also concerns about packing - lots of subscribers complained about bruised/wilted produce, I wouldn't supply tomatoes to them, not sure about greens, edamame, beans I'm planning on growing this year, though I'm sure it's good publicity it may not be good PR if not handled correctly.
I've had a loss 2 years running, I really need to make a profit this year to avoid IRS declaring this a hobby, so what can I do for market?