General craft show etiquette should be followed for Farmers' Markets as well to ensure you're giving the shopper a great experience and that you're helping the event run smoothly for the organizer (read our article on Craft Show Etiquette here). But there are a few other courtesies to keep in mind when it comes to outdoor markets. And if you're a shopper, be sure to follow Shopper's Farmers' Market Etiquette.
Each market will have their own set of rules to follow so be
sure you read over the applications carefully. In general, here are some common
Don’t assume the
market is cancelled due to weather
You should understand that the markets generally run rain,
snow or shine and will only shut down in the case of extreme weather. Not
showing up to a market you’ve booked because it’s raining could put you on the
naughty list and you may even be fined. Organizers want their markets to be
full and have variety for their shoppers so if you’ve signed up for a market,
be prepared to show up in bad weather; unless the organizers have cancelled the
event or you've given sufficient notice of cancelling.
Be courteous of other
vendors when unloading
The spaces are often larger when you’re selling at an
outdoor Farmers’ Market and you have more things to unpack (tent, tables,
etc.). Due to the size of many outdoor markets, you'll most likely need to back your car
directly to your space to unload and if that is the case, be sure you quickly
unload and move your car so others have the space to do the same. Don’t leave
your vehicle running while you do so, nobody wants to be breathing in exhaust
fumes while they’re setting up, plus is kinder to the environment :)
Follow set up and
As with any other show, be on time and have your booth set
up by the time shoppers arrive. Because there aren’t any doors to lock until
official opening times, you must also follow the selling times of the markets.
Many do not allow you to begin selling goods until the official start of the
market in an attempt to keep order. If one person begins shopping 20 minutes
early, soon more people will follow and shoppers will expect to be allowed to
show up early.
Don’t pack up early
The weather may be rainy or you may have sold out but market
organizers don’t want empty spaces that were previously filled. Wait for the
market organizer’s okay that vendors can pack up and leave due to weather
conditions. And if you’ve sold out, use it as an opportunity for brand
awareness; after all, you've paid for the space. Have a sign ready for the awesome occasion of selling out, which states you’re all
out of stock for the day and where people can find you after the market; next date you're attending or your website/Facebook/Made Urban name.
Weigh your tent down
Markets will generally have rules around how much weight you
need holding your tent down but even if there isn’t someone walking around and
checking, make sure your tent and products will stay put in the case of some
wind. Other vendors, shoppers and organizers don’t want to worry about flying objects and someone
Don’t spill out of
your allotted space
There is usually a lot more room for roaming when you’re at
an outdoor farmers’ market as compared to an indoor craft show. But don’t let
that fool you into thinking that you can take over more space. Vendors are
expected to keep their products and displays within their booth space (which is
usually 10 x 10). Just think how narrow the pathways would get if every vendor
took an extra foot or two.
Don’t assume you’ll
get the same spot every time
If you’re applying to be a returning vendor at a Farmers’
Market, it’s always ideal to be in the same spot so customers know where to
find you but realize that’s not always possible. Market organizers need to
arrange vendors based on who is selling that day and how many vendors there
are. If you get displaced from your usual spot, don’t get upset. Announce
through your social media where shoppers can find you this week and go with the
Make sure you’re
following food regulations
There are certain regulations you need to follow when it
comes to the preparation, storage and sale of food products. Market organizers
do not want shoppers getting sick due to contamination or getting in trouble
from the health inspector. The rules may vary depending on where you live and
which market you’re participating in so be sure you have all your ducks in a
row before market day. You may also be required to show proper documentation that you are indeed qualified to sell your food products and they are what they claim to be (i.e. certified organic). As well as proof of liability insurance if the market doesn't cover that under their own insurance.
Don’t spring new
products on the market
Farmers’ Markets generally need to approve each item you
plan on selling. This means you’re not at liberty to show
up with a new line of products without the market’s approval. Adding a new
style of necklace or new flavor of cookie isn’t a big deal but showing up with
fruit when you’ve been approved to sell bread is a no-no.
Clean up after yourself
Organizers can’t supply enough garbage cans to hold every
vendor’s trash so be sure you have your own garbage bags to collect any food
wrappers from your products and clean as you go (a messy booth isn’t a good
look for the market or your business). When the market is all done, the space
goes back to being public streets and sidewalks and if they’re not clean,
organizers could be fined by the city. So be sure you leave your space squeaky
clean, just as you found it.
If you're looking for some more unwritten rules of the market world and ways to step up your game and sell more, check out our e-book MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. Download 290 pages of useful advice for $15 CAD that I know will help you attract more shoppers and make more sales at your next event, regardless of your experience as a vendor.
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