Market Rules - avoiding conflict

MilesAwayFarmJuly 26, 2012

Hi. I've participated in four farmers markets over the last few years, all of them fairly small (or at least small on the days I am there). I have a friend who does the same at different markets. It seems that often issues arise between market managers and vendors that stems, in my opinion, from two problems. 1) vendors wanting to be assured a monopoly on what they do, whether it be selling bread or organic produce or jewelry or what have you, and then getting bent because someone new has arrived doing something similar and cutting into their sales and 2) market managers forgetting that people who sell at markets are in business, and often the income they earn is critical to their livelihood. They are not doing it so they can watch little kids eat watermelon and old friends catch up while their dogs sniff each other (or at least that isn't their main reason for being there).

I'm a big believer in written expectations up front. Anyone have any good verbiage from their market rules that seems to address these two often opposed goals of any good market. A good mix of vendors, a fair enforcement of the rules, not arbitrarily changing course mid season, and something that honors the business/vendor side of things? A friend of mine has been asked mid season to stop making a specific variety of bread, so that she isn't competing with another bread vendor that has something similar, and has been selling at that market longer.

Many thanks for the input.

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I agree with your conclusion, but I don't know an answer. I don't believe your friend can be forced to stop making a variety legally, but I'm not a lawyer.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 7:48AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

We have a market committee with a mix of members including a few vendors, I am one of them, and we make a collective decision. So when we have vendors that already sell certain things we do not accept new vendors with the same products. They need to say what they will bring up front and have it approved. if they want to bring something new not on their list the commitee has to approve it.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 10:46PM
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I can only say I am very grateful that there are enough markets being run nicely in my area. The stakes are low in Farmers markets and that's part of what makes it a place I like to participate at, despite how hard farming can be. Generally, it seems to bring out the good in people. It would be sad to see people making problems of it for each other.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Fixing prices and enforcing monopolies are both very obviously illegal. But every market still wants to do it. They just don't put the real policy in writing, at least if they are halfway smart about it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 5:22PM
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Wow, I have had a hard time this summer at one of my markets. I have been warned twice for selling early. on both days it was 106 or above on a paved parking lot. The customers arent going to wait around so I sold. both times a fellow vendor turned me in. I really feel this starting time stuff can kill a market. I have noticed that this market has never taken off(this is our 6th year in the market) Here is why I think markets fail to grow or thrive.

Bad location- this market has been moved 4 times in 6 years
managers who arent proponents- This market is sponsered and run by a city. They must assign a person to it as both the previous and current managers arent really people persons and dont seem to me to be enthusiastic about the job.
seller who cant sell- wow this makes for alot of jealousy, I only try to breing enough to sell and not have alot left over. and I try to bring what sells. I thus sell mostly out each week. the people next to me sell very little, dont engage the crowd, are high priced. I think they are glad when school starts and I have to drop out of this market at the end of august. Just so they dont have to see me.
Finally its all about accomodation. I recently had a conversation with the market owner of a flea market that I sell in once a month(I can sell 30 bu of peaches in 6 hours, a great day for me) He told me his mission is for make it easy for the sellers and the buyers and that equals sucess for him. I totally agree.
I have ranted enough. I have probably gotten myself thrown out of the bad market but we will see.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:57PM
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Alan, I understand. I was the vendor that none of the other vendors wanted to be there. I am a selling type of person, not busy, just a customer service type.

You can't have a good market, if you move all the time. Need at least 2 years in any 1 location, before you can decide if it's a good location.

I'm not convinced that afternoon market is worth it. I'm not a morning person, but mornings seems to work better. I've had markets starting anywhere from 6 am to 5 pm, and mornings bring more people. While I can understand the 'wait til the bell' start time, but there needs to be some allowances for the excessive heat that we've all had this summer.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Marla you bring up a great point and that is the afternoon markets. Are they worth it? this year I would say NO. in years past I would say Yes. I guess what I need to try is a weekday market in the AM instead of the PM. I have a friend who on Thursdays who hits an Am market(7-12) drives another 30 minutes and hits a PM (4-7) market. its a great day for him.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Our market previously had Tues am, Thurs am and then Sat am. Then they changed it to Tues am, Thurs late afternoon and Sat am. Then they change location of Thurs market to campus location with little parking. It worked well for students/campus workers (when they remembered), but only had it when the students were gone for summer?????.

Now it is only campus (noon-4pm) and Sat am. I'm not at that market this year and not sure if I would want to do the afternoon market.

Another market had a Sat am (til 1-2 pm) and Wednesday (3-8). The afternoon market doesn't have the customers that Saturday, but it is a newer market (same location).

I think it takes time for anything to get established, and if vendors don't stick it out, the customers will quit coming before they get used to the market even being there.

I bet your friend is totally exhausted by the end of that market day. Does he go home and load up again or just hopes he bring enough for both markets? I've done a Friday evening and then Saturday morning on same week. Several times, I sold out of items on Friday evening, not to have anything for Saturday. I felt bad for the Saturday customers.

BTW, is Isaac heading your way? We are supposed to be in his way by the time he gets to Indiana. Possibly 6" for us this weekend. Granddaughter has birthday party on Monday, maybe?


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 4:52PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Moving around is bad but I have seen it done successfully because it went finally to a better market (next town- not my market).
However most of the points Alan makes are actually things at my market and they work out just fine. You absolutely do not want to sell ahead of time. We have tons of problems with this and in 6 years have never changed the policy. We have ALWAYS started at 3:30 and several customers a week claim to not know and try to buy early. They are lying to get ahead of everyone else. If you let people buy early they will become big problems as you are setting up- trying to open your coolers and boxes to take out what they want! Stores have opening times and you are a mini store. I am absolutely firm on the no sales until opening time.
Our market manager is on maternity leave all summer but doesn't do much when working. We are city run too and have little knowledgable oversight. It is ok though. I just wish we did more for advertising.

I think it is better to have produce left over after a market. It shows you couldn't sell more if you brought more so you don't have to wonder. Also if you are wiped out well before closing time customers will stop coming the last hour. They don't want a few meager leftovers. I truly feel you need piles of produce to sell. I have been selling much better lately and I think partly due to how I set up and how much is there.

Our time is 3:30 to 7 and most customers come between 3:30 and 5. It doesn't get over 95 here but is quite humid. We moved indoors once this summer in the community center across the street but then you have to cart in your stuff. The customers are ok with the heat but the veggies can wilt. I have to figure out ways to keep it fresh and envy the pics I see of chard bunches stacked up or rainbow carrots not in water.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:58PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


I agree, there has to be a critical mass of produce in order to sell somethings. It seems that no one wants the last cucumber or zucchini or handful of green beans. If I sell a bunch and just have a few left of something, sometimes(if it is slow) I will just throw the rest in with the last person who buys it. That is if it is a perishable product.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:45PM
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Our afternoon market was on black pavement, which didn't help. We didn't have any options, except our canopies. Summer temps are regularly upper 80s to 90s, and this summer was 10+ higher than normal, and still is.

I've done one afternoon market that wasn't pavement and had trees, it was much better. the grass wears out over the summer, but comes back before next year. How long this will last, I don't know. The market has only ran a couple of years.

Yes, Jay, I do the same thing regarding the last pound or item. It just sad to watch it sit there wilting.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 8:32AM
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