Summer farmers markets feel far away on these short damp winter days, but many local markets have already opened their applications for the upcoming summer. If you’ve ever considered becoming a market vendor, now is the time to start planning and applying.
Things to think about as you get started:
- Which markets do you want to attend? Naturally sales will be higher at bigger, busier markets but vending at smaller markets is a great way to learn, and their acceptance rate is higher.
- What will you sell? Create a robust product mix but don’t go overboard and make things too complicated. If you’re a farmer, sync your market sales plan with your planting schedule.
- How many weekly markets will you have capacity for? A four-hour market may require eight hours of staffing once you add in loading, driving, setting up, breaking down, and unloading.
- Which neighborhoods are the best fit for your products? Where does your target market live? Does your price point match the audience?
Market application tips:
- Reach out to a market manager before you apply, either by email or in person at a market. They may pay more attention to your application if they know who you are.
- Be consistent with social media postings and create a website if you haven’t already. Most market applications ask about your online presence.
- Get a business license if you haven’t already. If you sell a prepared food product, make sure you’re working out of a licensed kitchen, and obtain a food handler’s card.
- Get product liability insurance. Most markets require it, and it’s prudent to protect yourself even if a policy isn’t required.
Do you still have questions about what it takes to put together a compelling and successful application? Join us and Ben Chandler from the Seattle Farmers Market Association Thursday, February 2nd from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. to "Ask a Farmer's Market Manager" and to talk through the application process. The Food Business Resource Center will pay your application fee once you attend this Business Expert session either live or on demand, and then meet with a business coach to review your market plan.
Food Biz Week is just around the corner! Join Business Impact NW for two days, Feb. 22-23, for insightful and engaging panel discussions, presentations, and networking opportunities!
About the author
Devra Gartenstein owned and managed small food businesses for 30 years before joining the Business Impact team as King County Farm Business Support Specialist. She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle’s oldest farmers market concession, and can often be found at area markets even on her days off, shopping and schmoozing.
Devra was born and raised in Brooklyn and has lived in Seattle since 1987. She has a Masters degree in Philosophy, has published several cookbooks, and relaxes by cooking, travelling, and taking long walks.