Farmers Markets Are a Great Opportunity for Beginners
As a novice baker, many summers ago, I decided to take my baked goods on the road. I usually bake for family and friends and was so excited to find out Virginia allows home bakers to sell their baked goodies at the Farmer's Market. WooHoooo!
I initially signed up for a farmer's market that cost $30 a day for a spot. Luckily, I met some awesome folks who had an extra spot at another local farmer's market that was $50 for the season. Hey, that sounded pretty good to me, and the atmosphere was more communal, just what I was looking for. So I decided on a menu of six different flavors, bought an acrylic display case to keep my goods fresh and critter-free, got a cool sign made online, and I was good to go!
How Can I Sell at the Farmer's Market?
- First, make sure you contact your local tourism bureau or farmer's market coordinator. Each city has its own rules and regulations regarding ingredients allowed, temperature control, and so on. Some states have Cottage Food Laws that allow home bakers to sell food prepared in home kitchens at certain locations.
- You will definitely need a table. I prefer the standard six-foot foldable table found at stores like Wal-Mart and Target. A cheery tablecloth wouldn't hurt, either.
- Some farmer's markets provide an overhead canopy; others require you to bring your own. Be sure to purchase a canopy that is easy to put up because you will be putting it up every week. A bright, cheery color would attract business as well.
- My husband had a sign made online. Make sure you choose an eye-catching logo and colors.
- We invested in an acrylic bakery display case, and I believe this was the best decision we made. It kept our cupcakes fresh and critter-free all summer long. Awesome!!
- Come up with a menu, but be flexible. See what the folks like and go from there.
- Lastly, have fun!! Although my husband and I stayed up many nights baking cupcakes for the next morning, the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day was unbelievable.
I tested the waters and met some pretty awesome people. Please support your local Farmer's Market. If you have a specialty, give it a go one season. I can't wait till May....
Beautify Your Space
It is very important to create a beautiful space when selling at the farmer's market. Along with an eye-catching sign, you should have a colorful, multi-level display. Chalkboard signs are all the rage, and they are a simple, reusable signage choice. I ordered my custom sign online at BuildASign.
Be sure to label everything! Toss in a few baskets and pretty blooms, and you are well on your way to a booth no one will miss!
Coming up with convenient, affordable packaging was not as hard as I thought it would be. While browsing Pinterest, I found a very frugal option. I purchased clear plastic 9 oz. tumbler cups and clear cellophane treat bags. The cups fit perfectly inside the bags and only require a ribbon to close. After packaging hundreds of cupcakes this way, I have to admit it can be annoying because you have to drop the cupcake just right to sit straight in the cup. But after you get the hang of it, it's not that bad. The cost justifies a little frustration. I truly love this packaging option despite a few crooked cupcakes.
Questions & Answers
Question: We sell baked good at farmer's markets in California. We just started and business has been great. I am concerned about how to keep our items from melting when the summer comes. Any suggestions? We sell everything from cookies to coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, cakes and artisan breads.
Answer: It is really difficult when it gets really hot. Here's what I have done in the past. An acrylic case helps a lot. I usually refrigerate cupcakes prior to placing them in. Be sure to keep case out of direct sun. Another option is to display a few and keep the rest in a large cooler with dry ice on hot days.
Question: How much of each baked good should I bake?
Answer: It really depends. You may want to ask some of the market regulars what the weekly turnout is and go from there.
Question: Did you have to apply tax when selling your bake goods at the farmers market?
Answer: Yes, I do apply tax.
Question: How many cupcakes can you fit on one tray? What size is your case?
Answer: I believe I have the 22×22 case. I can fit about 6-7 dozen cupcakes in the case.
Question: Is there a fee to pay to sell baked goods at a farmers market?
Answer: Yes, there is usually a fee.
Question: What do you usually charge per item?
Answer: Each item has a different price point. It totally depends.
Question: What size are those cups?
Answer: They are the 9oz cups.
Question: Where do you purchase (online or retail) the 9oz Clear Tumblers with the tops?
Answer: I purchased the cups and tops at Sams Club.
Question: How far in advance can you bake your products?
Answer: I usually bake the night before. It really depends on your baking style.
Question: How did you prevent the melting of buttercream while displaying in a farmers market?
Answer: I kept my cupcakes in a case out of the sun. On really hot days you can have your baked goods in a cooler and just display a few samples.
Question: Where do you find the lids for the 9” solo cups?
Answer: I found the kids at Sam's Club.