Recently I kicked off a new series on how to find and select a good farmer’s market. In part one of this series, I discussed the Market Master and how they play one of the biggest roles in a markets success, or demise. In part two, we’re going to delve into some logistics to consider when you are out looking for the best market to sell your products at.
Back in high school I took a basic entrepreneurial class and one of the main lessons from that course still sticks with me to this day. It was true then and it is true now, and it applies to not only a farmers market, but all other brick and mortar businesses as well. The top three things needed for success at a farmers market are as follows:
While there are always exceptions to the rule, by and large and successful market will be located in a busy urban area. It will need to be settled amongst lots of upper middle-class neighborhoods and be located along a busy roadway with great visibility to the public. While I think it is fantastic that many smaller communities are attempting to establish their own farmers markets to promote local food, the reality is (at least in our experience) that you must travel to a large urban area with a large populace in order to make a farmers market worthwhile. What we have found is that nothing can make up for sheer numbers of potential customers walking thru a farmers market. We have also found price not to be an issue at most of the markets we do in larger urban areas, but there are exceptions. Conversely, markets located in outlying towns tend to draw shoppers who are very focused on price. If you continually hear how much cheaper Wal-Mart and Kroger are, you are in the wrong place!
Fortunately for us we are located only about 45 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. There are a fair number of larger urban neighborhoods like I have described within Indianapolis that have busy farmers markets to attend. Your nearest large metropolitan area is going to be no different. We are also only about 35 minutes from Bloomington, Indiana which is where Indiana University is located. The Bloomington farmers market is something to behold as it can host up to 110 vendors on a Saturday morning and provides us with a second viable farmers market to attend during the summer months.
The final issue to consider when looking at the location of any market is ease of access. You will want to make sure that there is ample free parking for customers to attend any market you participate in. Proximity to customers, ease of access and ample parking or all key things to consider when selecting a market. If there isn’t much parking available, then seek to find out if the market is well attended by those within walking or biking distance. One market in Indy that we do not attend has very little parking and no visibility from the main street nearby. It’s limited to only forty-eight vendors and the logistics are terrible. That said, it’s in a very hip area of Indy and those who live nearby walk and bike to this market in droves. There are no shortage of vendors on the waiting list attempting to get in because it is so busy and well attended. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule but by and large I think our experience will hold true for most markets.