Hey lhayes1976, I think Ill take a stab at answering your question since there doesnt seem to be anyone here who was just starting out and sold goodies at the Farmers Market. Im currently considering a home baking business myself, and while I havent sold my baked goods at my local Farmers Market, I HAVE sold many other things Ive made in various other venues. Some of what I learned can be transferred over. That, and Ive also visited many Farmers Markets myself.
First I would contact whoever runs the Farmers Market and ask them flat out for advice. Theyll probably be happy to help you out! I would also ask if you can have the contact information for any old timers whove been selling at the market and who would be willing to help you learn the ropes. There has got to be someone whod be willing to help you out a bit.
Next Id decide what I wanted to sell. Youll want some variety probably but not TOO much variety. Youll probably want to become known for a few really good things that people keep returning to your table for week after week. Also, too much variety means too much cooking and work because you cant be assembly-line like in your production. Still, youll want SOME variety.
Youll have to source your ingredients out and make sure that you can get them when you need them at crunch time.
I was talking to a woman recently who has a very profitable home baking business, and she started out at the Farmers Market. She said on the one hand you dont want to have so much baking done that it doesnt get sold and you end up taking a ton home and it goes bad. On the other hand, however, she said youll be surprised at just how much you need to bake because youll sell quite a bit. I guess your first few weeks will be a learning experience as to what works, what doesnt, and how much food to make.
Youll want to think about your display, how your shop looks. Will a table be provided or will you need to bring one? What will you cover it with? Something attractive and yet a heavy vinyl for easy cleaning? How about the name of your shop? Will it be a banner across the bottom of your table? Do you have a sign already? Can you make an attractive bulletin board kind of thing if you dont have a sign? How about labeling your goods? Like laminated signs in front of each display saying whats in the display and some of the main ingredients. Make sure theyre laminated so they dont get greasy or filthy and so that you can use them over and over again. And make sure theyre colorful and pretty!
How will you package the goods for your customers? If they want one of this and four of that and three of those, how will you package it all? Will some things be prepackaged? How about labels for your food? What if they get your stuff home, absolutely love it, and then look at the bag/box and find theres no information on it? How will they get a hold of you for more of your goodies? Think about bringing preprinted labels, say 3x4 inches or 2x3 inches or whatever, and sticking it on the baggies/boxes that each product goes into. And make sure those labels are vinyl!! (Google vinyl labels, youll find a ton of them. Staples sells clear boring ones, but if youre in a pinch.) A regular paper label will get greasy really easily no matter how neat you or your customers try to be. And then there will be your shop name with the product (and possibly ingredients) all covered with goo and looking yucky! That wont help bring in business! And make sure you have your contact information on those labels! At least your phone number and possibly an address and/or website/e-mail address.
Dont forget business cards! Print some up at home--easy to do!--and leave a few out in various places on your table. Youd be surprised how fast youll go through them!!!
Maybe have a small plate in the front with samples. Like tiny 1/2 x 1/2 inch squares of brownies that got wrecked anyhow, or cookies cut in quarters, whatever. People LOVE samples!! Just make them small and tempting. And dont forget to smile and be engaging!! Be ready to answer questions. You might need some paper plates and napkins. You might want some disposable plastic/vinyl gloves too or some of those disposable food tissue thingies. Some people get nuts if they think a human hand has touched their food!
Dont forget a chair for yourself. Maybe some music and a book. A packed lunch unless you plan on eating sugar all day. Some water or whatever you like to drink. A friend to help out or at least visit once so you can use the bathroom on occasion. A lock box for your cash, and stock it with plenty of change--ones, fives, tens, and the silver stuff. Did you remember paper towels and fantastik and wet ones?? Because there are bound to be accidents!! No one wants to look at dirty food displays! And garbage bags too. And a jacket in case the weather gets cold.
And above all, believe in yourself! You can do this! After a few weeks, Im sure youll be a pro! Then YOULL be coming on this forum and helping out the newbies. Good luck to you!!