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How did you pick what market to sell at?

Posted by jcatblum 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 4, 11 at 16:44

I have been blessed with a grant to provide 1 acre of plasitculture from the Dept of Ag. We prep the ground, the lay irrigation & plasic for my rows. They also will reimburse some of our expenses, such as fencing for deer, market scale, etc.

Next yr will be my first season of market gardening. I have several markets to pick from. I am torn between selling at 2 markets less than 20 min from my farm. Or use my time selling at a large market about 45 min away.

Prices are very different at the markets! The larger market with sell squash for $1.50-$2 a lb. Small markets sell squash 3/$1.

I hesitate with the larger market for the distance, fees, and rules. I am not a rule breaker, but I have been told there is dramma in the larger market because of the rules. They meet each year to set price guidelines and problems come when people try to lowball or people suspecting others of outsourcing.

I do feel I will make less selling at the smaller two markets, but I am thinking it will be easier on me. Less dramma, less driving, and less fees.

How do you pick between markets? Any other thoughts or markt choices?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

I chose my former market due to the location, only 15 miles away. Plus at that time, it was the only one within 50 miles. This year, we(my family) went to 4 different towns with a total of 3 days, making 6 market/days per week. All within 35 miles, minus the former market. I chose them due to the price of attendance, mileage and amount of rules. To me, this year, lower was better. Next year, I'm not sure where we will be.

Hope this might help. I feel that with a first-time marketer, you might want to choose the lower attendance fees. This way, if things don't work out or if you find that you decide that marketing is not for you, then you'll be out less money.

Marla


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

When we started there were few markets around (20+ years ago)and we went to the closest at the time which is about 35 miles from here. been there ever since. i would go where the money is given your situation. never heard of a market with price guidelines for what you sell.


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

Randy, there are markets that would like to set prices, but mine are not like that. My markets would like for everyone to be within 20-25% of each other, but it didn't work for this last year. I wasn't willing to drop my prices down to the prices that one fellow was selling at, so I just went home and let my other markets have the tomatoes. That was a nice thing about having 4 different towns to market at, each one had their items that could bring higher prices.

Marla


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

I would not start at a big market my first year. Also when every second counts on market day 45 minutes away is a long time. Curious- are you planning to just do one day a week? That gets tricky with beans, peas, zucs, cucs, toms because of needing to pick every other day. The season I did just one market I had planned on selling a lot at work and to friends but I was not allowed to sell at work. So I had way too much produce that year!
2 smaller markets a few days apart per week would be best.

However, I will admit that lower priced, slower markets suck! It is just that a big, upscale market can be very intimidating!

PS. How did you get that grant?


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

If I were in your situation I would pick the closer ones. It sounds like you would prefer them.

However, I am all about being local. :) We live 2 km from our market. That being said, next year we are also considering attending one in a town 15 km away.

Are there any farms that have roadside stands that you could piggyback on if your product mix is different enough? There is a local corn farm that sells corn and blueberries on a city lot and we may approach them to rent space to sell from.

Alternately, is there a good corner in one of these close-by towns that you could 'rent' from a local business. If you get a seasonal vendor's permit (or whatever the municipality calls it there) you could have another day or two as a sole vendor.


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

If I sale at the 2 smaller markets it could be 4 days a wk, I imagine I would go to Market on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday-- I would have the option of Friday, but I personally don't want to go back to back days.

I know that I will make less at the smaller market, but after gas & fees the other market might amount to an extra $100 or so a month or it could even amount to me going in the hole. The large market has people waiting in line at opening & there are 12 or 15 vendors. About 6-8 are produce, then there is soap, canned goods, candies, herbs, flowers. Oh & for the large market I have to attend monthly producer meetings & pay my membership fee soon, so that is why I need to figure things out sooner than later.

Smaller market has about 5 or 6 regulars then those that just show up when they have extra stuff. The smaller market only has 3 vendors that showed up this year on Tuesdays, but they say Tuesdays are VERY slow. So I am assuming it isn't worth alot of peoples time to sell on Tuesdays.
The grant is for anyone in Oklahoma that has less than 40 acres. They had 16 openings & my application was selected. There is a big push to eat local. Even McD's labels there items that are MIO (made in oklahoma). With the grant I have to agree to sell half of the produce. They are not worried about profit but want records of the harvest to determine how well plastics help small farmers.

IF you have never seen a plasticulture set up this power point helps

Here is a link that might be useful: link to Plasitculture slide show


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

Magz I did consider putting some Melons, since they have a good shelf life, at a friends store. He is the only gas station in a near small town. I am sure he would give me the space & let me put stuff in the store on commission. His parking lot isn't big enough, or I would ask for a space there!


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

jcatblum- I sell at two markets a week. When we had lots of stuff, May-July, we sold at two market on Saturday and one on Wednesday. My main markets are Wednesday's 45 minutes away and Saturdays 5 minutes away. We would also try to go the 45 minutes away market, if we had enough stuff.

In my opinion, it is easier to be the Big fish in the little pond. than a little fish in the Big pond. With you being new to this, that may be different. I actually sell more at my smaller hometown market than I do at my bigger town market.

I would suggest you do the two smaller markets or one of the smaller ones and the big one.

I agree with the someone who said that one market a week is tricky. You have to have some good cooler space in order to pull that one off. Also I think that marketing one day a week is really putting all your eggs in one basket. What if it is pouring rain that day, you get sick, vehicle break down, etc. If you have two markets, at least you can spread that risk out a little bit. Also, if it doesn't sell on Wednesday, then you can sell it on Saturday. Most everything I sell on a Wednesday is picked Wednesday or Tuesday afternoon. If I kept it in the cooler or fridge, I don't have a problem selling it on Saturday.

Just my two cents!

Jay


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

My market has unofficial price guidelines but vendors circumvent that all the time by changing the unit. For example, one will have it by weight, another will have it by number, yet another will value-add by bagging or cleaning it and bump up the price. Then there's a couple of (heated) greenhouse producers whose prices are through the roof throughout the year.


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

Once upon a time, I was told that doing more than 3 days, yourself, was doable, but very very tiring. Of course, I thought I knew myself better. I did it, but boy was I tired. Keep in mind, you need to take care of yourself and make money.

A big fish in a small pond is much better. My kids went to a market this year and ended up being that big fish. It took awhile, but they are now known for high quality and excellent customer service. I would recommend following this reasoning. That's how I started in the big market, and became a big fish in a big market, until others that I was too big to be in the same pond as they.

Marla


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

I will plan on making a near by market East of me the primary on Tuesday & Saturday. The town to the west of me which is smaller & lower income will still provide the option of another market on Thursday. I think a day of picking followed by a day of selling will be a good pace to keep me from being burned out.

Thanks for the thoughts on the smaller markets. I do want my first year to be as easy & stress free as possible. Doing something new is usually stressful enough! I can always consider the larger market in the future.


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

With 3 days, you will get tired, but it is manageable. With the lower income area, you may not make as much money, but check into WIC checks, they can and do add up to several $$$$s. The paperwork for them is fairly simple, but don't deposit them into a business account. I learn that the hard way. I didn't realize that the business account charged for each item deposited. the checks were $3.00 each and my bank charge 50cents per after a certain number. My service charge 1 month was over $350.00 (yes the decimal is in the right place).

Having the 2 markets that far apart should work well. Saturday should be a bigger market and your produce will have 4 days to grow. Tuesday will be smaller, and you won't need as much.

Marla


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RE: How did you pick what market to sell at?

When I started out, it was the top market in town. They barely let me in but my product, vegetable starts, was different enough that they let me slide with out a resume. I think my product was presentable, printed labels and all, but my marketing skills sucked! LOL! luckily I went to a new market they started in a new section of town and I saw real sales! Then I moved to the magic city and I was lucky to make 30 bucks! I guess my point is try what you can and see what works for you?


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