I applied for and am selling some of my craft items at the Farmer’s Market here in Great Falls, Montana. Though the booth rental is very reasonable, I am wondering if it is really worth standing around for six hours waiting for the right customers to come buy and purchase.
I am only doing every other weekend, as I have a few physical complications and it takes me about three days to be able to function properly after a Market day. Remember you have to load your wares, displays, tables, canopy and personal stuff into your vehicle the night before. Then when you get to the Market before the Rooster crows you must unload and set everything up usually within one to two hours before the Market starts. Our Market lasts for four hours and then we get to pack everything up, tear it all down and load it into the car for the ride home. Once I get home it usually takes me a couple of days to unload everything because once again I have some physical issues. The worst part is lifting the cinder blocks in and out of the trunk of my car so many times.
Now, I know I am not going to get rich selling my products at the Farmer’s Market or even selling them online, but at least online I have eliminated the difficult task of hauling everything down to the market and then back home again. My first Saturday of selling my display looked like this:
I know the short table with all the cowls looks rather sloppy, but I wasn’t sure how it would work out, as a couple of other people were suppose to have sent items of theirs to be sold as well, but backed out two nights before. It rained for six hours, the whole time I was there, so the crowd was not as large as it usually is.
The vendors around me were very helpful, as I set my canopy up on the grass and started to put every thing out on the table. They told me I wouldn’t get any traffic there, as they all set their displays out on the pavement. They graciously helped me move everything and gave me a few more tips on where to set the tables.
This last market I did I was in a different space, closer to the entrance and closer to the food vendors. It was a windy day, but not a drop of rain. My display looked pretty much the same. There was a larger crowd and my sales had increased thanks to my two Aunties who purchased two arm knitted cowls and wore them as they strolled through the Market. They were asked where they got them and they shared where my booth was.
I had lots of interest in the cowls and candles. Those who stopped by had plenty of compliments and suggestions for me. I plan on incorporating some of them into the third market I will attend. I also went to visit my Aunts the day after the market to ask their advice on my display and pricing. They, and my Uncle gave me some tips on the display and prices as well as how I might make my product a little bit different than some of the similar wares being sold by other vendors.
I cleared six dollars my first market and increased that to over $50 the second market. I like how the Great Falls Farmer’s Market charges a percentage of your sales and not a flat rate that would make it almost impossible for a first time vendor to make any kind of profit. Right now I would have to say Farmer’s Markets take more work than the money generated, but I did give out a lot of cards with my web store address on them and gained a lot of knowledge that can only be acquired through hands on experience. Are Farmer’s Markets worth it? Well, that is hard to say. If you are only looking for ready cash: if you sell good food, or produce you are in luck. If you are selling craft items, I would say your first year will be a struggle until enough Market goers find you and become familiar with your work. Also the more unique your craft is the better chance you have of picking up customers right away.
I am not able to sell my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market, as they have a lot of vendors who do sell jewelry so be sure to take into consideration what you are selling and do they have enough of those types of vendors. You can only get my simple seed bead jewelry here at the web store, but the candles and arm knitted cowls you can stop by the Farmer’s Market and pick them up as well as ordering of the net.
Remember, Keep On Crafting Montana.