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Which market to sell at?

Posted by jrslick KS/5 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 16:02

We have always sold, last 5 years, at the Wednesday Market in a larger town and our smaller hometown market on Saturdays. Since late June, I have also been selling at the Saturday market in the larger town in addition to my wife selling in our hometown market.

We divide up what we have harvested and available, usually 50%- 50%, sometime 60%-40% and we go our separate ways. Our total sales have usually remained fairly even, but I usually always sell $100 plus more a week than she does. I have to drive the additional 40 miles to get to the market.

As we come into late August, September and October my hometown market usually starts seeing our customer numbers drop. Last week, it was a slow market day and her sales were down and my market was slow, but I still sold twice as much as she did. I am also the market president for our hometown market.

My question and thoughts are this. Would it be bad of me to stop going to my hometown market on the days we can't do two markets on Saturday? There has been and will be some days that she is busy at work or other obligations that she can't go. I know my sales will see less of a slump in the larger market as there are simply more people. Our hometown market has been down this whole year and I don't see it changing this fall.

I am still harvesting tons of produce and we are just getting started with the 2 planting of tomatoes and even picking a few off the 3rd. We have a 4th planting that will be ready in mid September. Our okra is just starting and the sweet potatoes and winter squash will be ready very soon. We will start selling radishes and turnips this week. I also am planting more and more for the winter markets at the larger market. I was thinking if I kept going to the larger market I would also build a bigger customer base for those winter markets.

My conscience is getting the best of me. What does it look like when the market president doesnt even sell at his own market. Right now we have enough vendors at our local market and the customers are being well served, but that won't last and I am afraid that if I don't go, it would die and I don't want that to happen.

Any thoughts? What would you do?

Jay


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Which market to sell at?

Is there anyone who wants to take over being market manager?


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RE: Which market to sell at?

I understand your conscience bugging you. You need to ask yourself, are you after the money or the support of the community. Find out how many miles you drive to the market that is farthest away, then multiply the miles by 50 cents. that's what the IRS allows for mileage. If you make more than that amount, you are actually making more money. Of course, this doesn't allow for your driving time, or how much you enjoy it.

Personally, I doing the smaller market. Main reasons were the market costs, plus the smaller market has less 'bull-crap' or politics. Do I make more money, probably not, but I don't have to deal with as much stressful situations.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

If I followed your post correctly you are already sending the wife to the market where you are the manager. And she doesn't go every week as it is. And you are doing better at the distant market which has a robust winter market. My humble advice is to find someone to replace you at the local market.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Marla,

You are correct about the added mileage and drive time. In fact we are there longer too, 8 til 1 but we usually start packing up around 12:30. There is always less BS at our small market, that is for sure!

We have always attended the Saturday market in our hometown, we never miss it. If we cut a market it is in the bigger town.

We have another retired master gardener who helps collect fees, if needed, I just deposit the money and take care of all the other stuff. It is one of those if I am not the president, there won't be a president. No one has even offered and I have offered to turn it over to anyone!

I am just concerned that if we can only sell $170 at my hometown market and I can sell $300 plus at the bigger market, then I am really missing out.

Who knows! :)

Jay


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RE: Which market to sell at?

You are asking a difficult question, that only you can answer. Good luck with that.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

How old are your oldest girl(s)? Any chance of them doing the local market, maybe with a reduced amount of produce, maybe with a shortened day, with an adult relative or family friend?


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RE: Which market to sell at?

The answer is pretty obvious but remember this: when you don't support a market and go every week you lose the customers you have. So if you skip the small market, when you go back you may sell even less. Hope that makes sense.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Well, I always think its best to have the farmer represent the farm but if it's not possible you could hire someone to sell for you. Thats what most of the larger farms round here do. Some of the folks that sell at the markets have never even been to the farm, they just meet the truck the morning of the market.

Do the math and figure out if it works for you. I'm sure lots of people would love the job for minimum wage and some veggies. Then your farm can still be represented at your local market, but you won't have to be there.

-Mark


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RE: Which market to sell at?

The end of August and all of September has historically been fairly low at our hometown market. In our town of 3500, when there are other large events going on around us, they draw the crowd down. Almost every weekend there is either a town fall festival, a rodeo, another Fall Fest, then the State Fair, Saturday morning volleyball tournaments, 4th -6th grade traveling football, cross-country meets, you get the idea.

My 12 year old 7th grader daughter has been running our booth twice (after we got it all set up) by herself. Our neighbor and good friend set up on either side of us. They are willing to help her if she needs it. She does a great job at it. The rest of the summer, she was always there and running it when my wife wasn't occupied feeding our youngest.

I guess we will just continue with what we have been doing, if our produce holds out this fall. Always hit the big market on Wednesdays and then our small town market on Saturdays. If we can swing it, then I will hit the big town market too on Saturdays. Probably able to do 2 weeks on then one week off type of schedule, instead of every week like we have been doing.

I am afraid that if we quit our hometown market it would die out fast. Since we are by far the largest vendor there. If we left, it would be a big void.

I want to support our community, but we could also really use the extra money. We have been paying off big medical bills all summer and trying to get ahead on other bills we have racked up over the last 2.5 years my wife has been in nursing school and then the 4 plus months of bed rest before our baby was born. I would like to get a small savings going again for my business, but it has been really hard too.

Thanks for all the comments and thoughts. I can honestly say I think I have thought all of them before and I have ran them all over in my head, over and over. It just isn't easy.

Jay


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Being worried about your smaller market surviving, have you considered that some of the other vendors, might 'step up' with more produce if the need was there. We had 1 huge vendor that died a few days after market was done (he was 78), a few customers stopped coming, but there was at least 2 vendors that increased their amount of produce (I was 1 of them) to compensate for loosing him. Usually where there is a need, someone fills it, especially if they know ahead of time.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

I did stay at our hometown market on Saturday, it ended up being a pretty good day. I had several large purchases that took it from an ok day to pretty good day.

I had all 5 kids, plus one extra older friend with me, as my wife and the older friend's mom ran a 5K race that morning.

At the end of the day, I still had enough stuff to take out of the coolers and filled up 1.5 fridges at home. I need to give away, can, freeze or pitch some peppers and okra. We pick a bunch of cucumbers and zucchini on Friday night, that we ended up not selling or even setting out. I hope we can get those sold on Wednesday. I have lots of stuff to pick for Wednesday. I hope we can double market this weekend and get rid of our carryover and get back to picking the nights before and selling the following day. I don't like carrying over, but pitching out a 1 day old cucumber isn't acceptable either.

Marla,
Most of our vendors in my hometown market are small hobby growers. For all but 2 or 3, this is their only market they do. They may sell from home, but I don't know how much. I am not sure if they would be willing to ramp up production, they are pretty happy doing the amount that they do. What we really need to do is ramp up customers!

Jay


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RE: Which market to sell at?

That's what we thought until he died and people really added to their production.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

I have a lot of extra produce right now too. It is so sad to bring it to market and have so much leftover, even when you sell pretty good. Also I can't give the CSAs way too much; they don't like that. So I bring a bunch to church every weekend. Today I set up a stand at the end of the driveway on the extremely busy highway. In 2009 that did pretty well. Today one guy came as I was loading up to leave and go make dinner. He bought a jumbo watermelon for $8. So I sat for nearly 3 hours for $8. Meanwhile I did mark my garlic varieties but I could have gotten some garden work done. It is just so sad to have so much great produce and no one who wants it. I don't think people thinking about growing have any idea that is the biggest problem. Connecting to people who want your produce is ridiculously hard for no reason. I watched car after car not even turn their head to look at what I had. My signs were fine and I was quite visible with a canopy, pickup and product! So I will try it again when I can do like 4-7. The traffic will back up Friday real far I bet. I could knock on car windows LOL! Meanwhile at work at the grocery store people come in and search the tomatoes and melons for decent ones. I just want to shake them and say 'don't you realize you can buy that farm fresh locally?!' Then I would be escorted out of course.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Minnie:

I know what you mean! I just go back from market and had a pretty solid day, but I was able to refill our fridges with the what we didn't sell. I have 3/4 of a fridge that has product that we will either process it or give away before I pick again on Friday. I also have an 18 gallon tote of stuff to go to the compost pile.

I also took 3 coolers of stuff to my school and gave away to all my teachers. They were very thankful.

Jay


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Unfortunately this happens every year, too many people have their own gardens or people get tired of produce. It's just part of life. Plus you can't figure out exactly which week of the late summer/early fall it will be.

Even buying, instead of growing, is hard to figure. I've done both. This is the time for preserve for yourself, since others aren't interested.

Minnie, we set up several days that like, each day we would wave at every car. first day, nobody; the next day, some would wave back but still didn't stop; after a few days, people began stopping. But if we weren't there for just 1 day, we would have to start all over. Doesn't really matter how busy the street is.


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RE: Which market to sell at?

Well this weekend we almost skipped my hometown market and only did the market in the bigger town, we had a great day! With Labor day and 3 town rodeos or festivals with in 20-30 minutes of our small town, I knew it would be very slow. In addition, another town had a huge city wide garage sales (all the streets become New York City bumper to bumper traffic!).

My wife and I decided that we still needed to make a showing, even if it was a limited one. We are all in various stages of getting or getting over colds, so she let the kids sleep in. She didn't get to the market until 9 am, it starts at 8 am. I just had left her a bag of cucumber, zucchini, and bell peppers (about 25-40 of each), 10 pounds of Jalapenos, Okra, garlic and 2 tubs of tomatoes(40 pounds). She sold out of the cucs and zucs to the last customer of the day and brought home 15 pounds of tomatoes, all the jalpenos, okra and garlic. Our prediction was correct.

Meanwhile, I almost sold out of everything else I had harvested for the week and had a great day. Maybe we will just need to continue to do this for all of September and October. I will sell at the bigger market, if we can, and take most of our production. She will sell at our small town market, with a limited supply, just to keep our presence there too. Next week we will just sell at our small market, so we can leave earlier and head to our state fair.

It makes me happy to sell the stuff instead of composting it all.

Jay


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