Was I expecting too much?

Rio_GrandeJune 2, 2013

We have always sold our produce from our farm. I want to up my sales and thought about the farmers market.

We still sell from the house but its word of mouth. So this year I decided to sell at the farmers market. We price checked in the fall and felt like the prices were reasonable.
We were out of produce this week so I stopped by the Saturday morning market where there was only one person selling produce. The prices I don't think would pay my fuel.

Gallon bags of lettuce 1.00
Dozen radishes .50
Dozen green onions .50
Eggs 2.00
.50 a head for broccoli
That was all I noted to memory. When we walked back by later he was almost sold out.

I was expecting 2-250 on the gal bags of lettuce, 1.00 each on the bunches
our eggs go for 2.00
I noticed his produce wasn't washed at all, we always cold bath our greens and clean out the bad bug bitten and anything that doesn't look about what you see at the grocery.

Were my expectations to high? Not slamming on this guy, but I don't see how he is even breaking even. Maybe he hasn't done the math?

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I don't know what prices and costs are in your area - Marla would know better. But those prices are low for here. Unless he's got the volume, he's losing money (I know gas prices must be over $3/gal even in IN).

What do you ask for those items at your farm stand?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:17AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Those prices are crazy. Here, prices are easily 4x that and
I won't go below $2 for any bunch.

It may be worth talking to the guy and finding out where he's coming from. Hobby farmers often just think of themselves as public servants.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:14AM
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We haven't sold early crops yet, we always started with beans, then tomatoes, squash, okra corn ect. 3.99 for diesel here.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:50AM
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we had lettuce and salad mix at the market yesterday as did many other vendors. we gave the head lettuce to the food bank and we're eating the salad mix. the lettuce was $2 a bag ($6/lb) and the salad mix was $2.50 a bag ($10/lb). at least for yesterday at our market the lettuce would have sold for $1/bag.
if we had green onions i would bunch them in 5's for $3. $2 later in the season. eggs are $4.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Even if I did!'t sell at the high end market those prices are still way too low. He obviously doesn't factor in his costs and if you want to attend that market, then go higher with better quality and it will take a while but eventually you'll gain market share to make it worthwhile.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:32PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Way low, IMO too.

Here is what we have and what we are charging.

Looseleaf head lettuces $2.50 each (probably a little low, but we are looking for repeat customers) Not much labor in them either.

Onion bunches 3 to 5 a bunch $1.50

Carrots $2.00 pound

Kale $2.50 per half pound bag

Bulb onions $1.00 each $2.00 a pound

Radishes $1.00 bunch for 5 or 6

Haikuri Turnips $2.00 a bunch for 6

Zucchini next week, $1.00-$1.50 each

Little Cucumbers $2.50 a pound

Bok Choy $2.50 head


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Last year I sold gallon (5 oz by weight) bags of looseleaf and romaine mixed for $2 so $6.40/lb, quart sized bags ( 2 oz) of baby specialty greens for $2 as well. Might try $3 this year if I ever get lettuce - not germinating well. Tom Thumb heads I' try $2.50-$3 each depending o weight (I haven't grown it before).

I don't eat radishes so I've never bought them and this year I am trying to grow them again (didn't germinate last year) but I'd say at least $1 for 6.

My cousin sells eggs $3/dozen and barely breaks even - lots of folks ask $4, and I've seen them up to $6/dozen at markets for "organic, pasture-raised" and/or Aruacana (green/blue) eggs. I just bought 8 eggs from her so I could get them fresh that day, unwashed, unrefrigerated for DS to take camping and then he only ate half of them, had washed them and put them in cooler with the eggshells(!) from the ones they did eat, they did smell so I put the remaining 4 in the fridge and will crack them individually into a bowl before using. They should have kept 48 hours (spent the first 8 hours at 75 degrees) but I know how cold the cooler was or when he put them in it, when he washed them (all at the same time). Maybe it was the shells that really smelled.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Rio, depending on where you are located, those prices might be what 'he' can get. You say his stuff isn't cleaned. That makes a BIG difference.

I'm at a market that has a guy like that, but not a lot of people buy from him, because they know that they need to clean the stuff.

Being too cheap, makes the customer think there is something wrong. Just keep your prices were you are at at the stand, and don't worry about. If someone asks, you can say, 'that's what a charge at my stand and nobody has a problem with it'. Actually, I would raise the price higher, alittle bit, than the stand, considering you are bringing it to the market and that adds more expense to you.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Thanks for the replies. We were offered a field pull off this week from a family member. Think we are going to try that tomorrow and follow up with any leftovers at the Thursday market. Worth a shot.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 5:55AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Sounds to me like you went back in time when you stopped by that market! Was gas $1 a gallon too?

We went to the St Paul market Saturday. Of course I took in lots of info on everything! Prices were generally higher than our local market but some things were even. Scallions and radishes seem to always be $1 a bunch. Their asparagus and rhubarb were a dollar higher than ours and some bunches were smaller. $5 a bunch there. It is funny that someone like my MIL didn't notice prices or bunch size or how stuff looked. She bought asparagus and plants at what I thought were the worst booths to choose- higher priced and crappy looking stuff. I guess that is how some of these vendors keep up with better vendors when they really shouldn't. Eggs and meat were very pricey. Plants were standard and there were plants everywhere! No one had much high tunnel produce. All the high tunnels seemed to be growing bedding plants to sell. Lastly, the Asian vendors were, as usual, way cheaper. Not much unusual stuff as I thought. I did buy ramps, but no Napa, bok choy, not that many greens. I bought 2 huge bunches of mint for $1 each and they also had pea shoot bunches which I talked my MIL into buying.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Noticed today that nobody was at the Wednesday market. We always do our CSA delivery on Wednesday so there is no time or product to attend it. Maybe he realized he wasn't gonna pay for fuel.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:44PM
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With $4.00 gas, that might be. Or he just figured out that he wasn't doing something right to get better money. Several people try marketing and price their stuff WAY LOW, then say 'you can't make money at farmers markets'. Customers also were trained to think that produce at farmers markets are cheaper than at the stores.

We, market farmers, have been working hard to change that opinion. Then national television shows state 'if you want to save money, wait til the end of the farmers markets and make 'deals' with the farmers. The farmers will want to make 'deals' at the end.'

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 9:13AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I hate deal makers at farmers markets! Now, if you buy stuff from me every week, year in-year out, I may make an exception.

The Wednesday market I attend has lots of people from Asia and India. Bartering and haggling price is a way of life for them, that is how things are done.

I think I finally made the "Pay the Price or don't ask list" when a customer last year made this comment to me. "You have very nice produce, some of the best stuff. You don't make deals, I will go someplace else". The following week they came back and bought my stuff at my price and didn't argue. It kinda made me smile!


    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 5:10PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

In those countries that barter the signed price is outrageously high to start with. We don't do that.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:12PM
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When in Rome, do as Romans. When will people figure that out? Same with language.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I'm originally from India and have to agree with Jay. As sad as it is, the number of customers I have from India can be counted on one hand. They often tell me that my specialty produce can be obtained for one tenth the price at an import grocery, and my insistence that my price is for *freshness* and *quality* just falls on deaf ears. Oh well, their loss.

RioGrande, at our market, vendors who wash and bag their produce sell at a premium and do good business. The only trick is that if you market it as clean, it has to be really, really clean.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 2:22PM
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In Australia prices are way higher. What I would suggest that the guy selling things so cheap is not a market gardener. I saw this at a market here, they were reselling old stuff from big supermarkets.
I as a customer am willing to pay more if you tell me how you grow your crops weather you spray and if your hens are free ranging.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:26AM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

The first thing that came to my mind was if he grows his own stuff. We had someone at one of our markets this week selling produce that they got from auction. I was walking by their table when I over heard them tell a customer that they try to keep their prices low, they said they would rather it move then sit and go to waste. It made me mad because of course they can afford to sell it cheap, they get it dirt cheap from the auction, do not have to do any work to grow it, all they have to do is sell it! If they had to actually work to grow it I am sure they would think differently. They try to make it sound like they are doing something great for the customers by keeping their prices lower then everyone else.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Let me tell you, not everything is cheap at the auctions. I will pay reasonable prices whether thru the auction or direct from the farmers. After all, if some farmers doesn't get a decent price, they will not grow the item again next year.

Yes, when the glut comes in, it's good for the buyer, but that's only for a certain amount of time.

When I buy and sell, I try to set a price that is reasonable to the customer AND any grower. I don't try to undercut, if anything I'm higher than most at my market. Don't get me wrong, I don't price beginning tomatoes at the $5.00 per pound like some people think they should get. I price my stuff, grow or purchased, at a price that I would pay, if I had to buy from someone else.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 5:33PM
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