Is it me or is it this market?
I'm so disappointed. Last year was my first year at market, but it was a disaster weather- and crop-wise, so didn't actually have much to sell til August. This year I started beginning of June (market runs June through Sept) with lettuce and last year's jams (peas didn't do anything), sold some blueberries in July but didn't have many, and really got no blackberries this year but had some arugula, mizuna, etc. and then the new potatoes did well. Summer squash hasn't been a big seller, but surprisingly the mammoth zukes have been selling at $1/lb, tomatoes are starting to come in, no problem selling some Husky Reds (from potted plants) in June for $2/pint ($4/lb) but some people are complaining about organic Sudduth BWs at $4/lb (though last night one woman - I swear the same one who kind of griped about paying over $2 for 1 tomato last week) made a beeline for them and bought 3 (almost $9).
"Volunteer" tomatoes that I made no claims about taste sold OK for $2/lb last night, but I only sold 7 of those (about 3 lbs worth) - sold 4 BWs that weighed almost the same, 1 CP and 2 pints cherry toms.
So I was fairly busy, but only selling $1-2 worth of stuff to each customer (except for that 1 lady with the $9 tomatoes), a couple of my regulars didn't make it last night.
I went through my sales records and found that I have grossed just over $500 since June - and some of those sales were actually outside of market (selling plants from my house, taking orders from people at DH's work).
I'm just making $40-50 a week at market, one week did $62 but another was only $23. Makes me wonder why I'm working so hard for less than $1/hr - and I'm actually losing money for the 2nd year in a row, when you consider market fees, insurance, and gas (not even counting repairs and maintenance, seed, soil, etc.).
Do I need to find a different market? Am I asking too much (but I sell cherry toms for $3/pint and only sold 2 out of 7 last night, other vendor asks $4/pint though I don't know how many she sold)? Olive oil/vinegar vendor next to me easily sells $10-15 bottles, has even sold a few $30 bottles of truffle oil this season, and the bakeries do a good business ($5 for a loaf of bread!) so I don't think that it's that most people can't afford my prices (though this is not a very affluent town - I really think I could do better in a different town, we'll see how Tuesday market in 1 of them goes next week). And my produce is nice (though chard wilts and I've never been able to sell any at this market), fresh, and chemical-free. I try to price somewhere between what the conventional growers (2 at this market) and the (certified) organic farm down the road are asking, also check the grocery stores.
I just don't know what I'm doing wrong, I don't have as much produce as the 1 big farm (that's right in town and has been here forever, she's MM and has a lot of regular customers), but I think I have just as much (no herbs, no acidified foods, and I don't always bring my jams) as the other produce vendor. I think my prices are competitive. Is it just that there are more established vendors at this market? There are people who don't even browse at my table, they stay over on the side with the other 2 vendors (the MM has 2 spaces and displays aren't attractive, no tableclothes, etc. but she has LOTS of stuff including corn right now, the other vendor has very attractive display, both are on Facebook, both have big banners with farm names).
There is 1 market that just started this year in a more affluent town, at the YMCA so might have more traffic. They had a shorter season, so I didn't go with them this year (though if I had known we weren't having Wednesdays in July at my current market this year I might have made a different decision), I can't get in on the "ground floor" and this one big farm did join them partway through the season, but you think they might not be as entrenched? There is another market in its 5th season in a nearby town, it was recently rated best in an online poll (that didn't include the brand-new market, only had 3 markets to choose from, one established one on Sundays, this 5-yr old one and a 2-yr old one during the week). A few more farms (1 small chemical-free one up the road from me, and a large certified organic one in that town, among others) are there, so they might be really established.
I'd like to give it a 3rd year in business to see if I can make a profit so the IRS doesn't declare this a "hobby" but I just don't know if it's worth it, unless I can figure out what I can do differently (I know, high tunnel!). Thanks for listening to my "vent" but suggestions are appreciated!