How to Make Money at the Farmers Market

Selling produce and vegetables at the market can be fun and rewarding. It also can be and should be profitable. We want to share the article below.

First thing is make sure you plan ahead.

No one likes to show up at the market and have to rush or somehow pay additional fees for something that used to be free. For example, are the roads still the same as last year?  Do we now have tolls to deal with?  This year, do I have to pay for extras at the market like tables, 110VAC power outlet, covered tent etc…

Determine what your costs truly are and how much money do you realistically want to make by selling your produce to visitors at the farmers market.

This can be difficult, especially when it comes to determining your costs. How much is your time worth? How many hours did you spend planting seeds, harvesting etc… How much is your time worth driving to the market, setting up your produce stand? How much is your time worth selling strawberries to consumers for four hours?

These are challenging questions and there is no right or wrong answer but if you can put a number(s) on some of these questions, it can help you truly determine if you made any money selling fruits and vegetables at the farmers market.

Next, scout your competitors locations at the market.

Is a seller four tables down selling apples for twenty five cents less than you?  Can you match that sellers price and still be profitable?

Is there a particular fruit or vegetable that seems to be really popular this year with customers?  Perhaps you can source some of those for your table or at least make notes so you can grow that for next year.

Do you have any larger expenses to consider such as buying a new digital price calculating scale?  

Or perhaps you had an existing scale repaired with new keypad, battery, and AC adapter.  Or maybe you need to invest in some type of cash register or large covered tent to protect you from the blazing July sunshine.  All of these costs need to be considered in your calculations.

rice lake rs-160 retail scale

Summarizing, no one understands your buying / selling produce at the farmers market business better than you.

You know how much work that you have put into growing or sourcing your produce. You know how much work you have put in to buying supplies and preparing each week for the market. And you know how much money you would realistically like to make each week and throughout the year. This article is just designed to make you think a little bit and perhaps help you to remember an area that you might have overlooked.

 

 

Rice Lake RS130 has a New Look and New Capacities and Features

For many years customers have used the Rice Lake RS-130 retail price computing scale. The scale featured brand name quality along with a few unique features which set it apart from the other scales that are included in this market. Recently, Rice Lake updated the look of the scale by changing the keypad color from the traditional black to a bright white color. They also added some new versions and capacities to their retail counter-top scale lineup. Below we’ll take a look at some of the changes.

The RS-130 and RS-160 retail scales are the ultimate choice for simple price computing applications. Delivering unmatched convenience and accuracy, the RS-130 and RS-160 provide one-button operation with weight displays in either pounds,kilograms or ounces. The new part numbers and capacities are listed below.

rice lake rs-160 retail scale

167941 …. RS-130 Standard Counter-Top Scale with 30 lb Capacity
30 lb x 0.01 lb
15 kg x 0.005 kg
480 oz x 0.2 oz

168100 …. RS-130 Scale with Pole Display (30 lb Capacity)
30 lb x 0.01 lb
15 kg x 0.005 kg
480 oz x 0.2 oz

167942 …. RS-160 Standard Counter-Top Scale with 60 lb Capacity
60 lb x 0.02 lb
30 kg x 0.01 kg
960 oz x 0.5 oz

168101 …. RS-160 Scale with Pole Display (60 lb Capacity)
60 lb x 0.02 lb
30 kg x 0.01 kg
960 oz x 0.5 oz

rice lake rs-160 scale with tower display

For added convenience, the RS-130 and RS-160 can toggle units of measure and save tare, price and nine direct price lookups. Cash back calculation allows you to quickly provide cash back for applications where a cash register is not present. The scales’ large, stainless steel platters provide ample room for product, and standard in-use covers assure years of trouble free operation.  The RS-130 and RS-160 are NTEP Certified (NTEP CC 04-067) and powered by an included rechargeable battery. A low-battery annunciator signals the operator when it’s time to recharge. The RS-130 and RS-160 offer the most accurate, portable and affordable solutions for simple price computing needs. You can place orders for this item by contacting Central Carolina Scale, an authorized Rice Lake distributor.

Torrey LPC-40L Review

In the entry for today, we wanted to provide you with some insight into the Torrey LPC-40L price computing scale. The scale does price computing functions and is NTEP approved, legal for trade. Now in full disclosure we heavily promoted this scale a few years back and we do still offer this scale to customers who wish to purchase it. However, we are not big fans of the brand.

PROS
The LPC-40L scale is a great deal and affordably priced. The scale is built very well and has a rugged enclosure. The display is visible to both the scale operator and the customer. The display has a bright green backlight which makes it very easy to read, however the display can be a little hard to read without the backlight. The power is provided by standard 110VAC power and/or the internal rechargeable battery. Generally speaking the LPC has been fairly reliable. Over the years we have sold several scales that were also the lowest priced in the marketplace and they were constantly needing parts and always received terrible reviews by customers. However, the LPC40L has been fairly popular with customers and typically if something does break on the scale, it is usually something that can be repaired or replaced fairly easily.

CONS
In our experiences, the LPC-40L typically has the following parts failures: keypads, battery, power issues. When we have one of these scales come in for repair, it is usually either a battery or keypad issue. Every so often it will be something to do with the power, either the AC adapter or the plug where the power adapter plugs in has come loose. Now the repair costs for something like that can range anywhere from around $25 to $100 including the labor. So if the repair is around $100 you have to decide if it’s worth repairing the scale or just spending a little more money and buying a new scale. The weighing platter is a little awkward and high compared to most similar scales. This is fairly common on all Torrey counter top scales. If you need to weigh items in a different unit other than pounds, it can be tricky to change the weight units. Continue reading

Low Cost Retail Scales

Recently I was doing a search online for a particular scale. As I was searching I came across a new scale that I had never seen before. It was a price computing scale that was being sold for an absolute ridiculous price. I looked it over and read the specifications and took a look at the product pictures. I couldn’t help but recall the last super low cost price computing scale that I had found. It was probably ten years ago and it was by far the cheapest scale on the market at that time. I bought one and tried it out and it seemed ok.  Anyway, we sold a few of them here and there. They did ok but to be honest to this day it is the most failure prone retail scale we have ever used. We get calls requesting replacement parts for this scale to this day.

This cheap scale that I just recently noticed also made me think of another scale that was the low cost scale of choice more recently. We sold a ton of this particular model and it was a good scale for the most part. Sure, it had a few failures from time to time. But mostly the failures were simple like a keypad, rechargeable battery, or AC adapter. All of which were pretty inexpensive. Our real downfall with this scale was the total lack of support that we received from the manufacturer.  All they seemed to care about was “moving boxes”.  I won’t go into great detail but it was one of the worst manufacturers we ever dealt with, and we basically deal with almost all of them.

So I guess my point in this article is to be careful. It’s your money so you can buy whatever item you want. Just understand that if something is priced really, really low there is usually a reason(s) that it is priced cheap. It could be low cost components, cheap load cell, poor quality control, foreign manufacturer, etc… In my experience with retail scales, most customers want a good deal but they also want to have confidence in Continue reading

Brecknell Price Computing Scale Overview

We’ll include the video version of this overview as well but today we wanted to take a quick look at the Brecknell PC-30 and PC-60 price computing scales. If you’re interested in a basic, no frills, simple to use, not many bells and whistles retail scale, then the PC series might be just what you’re looking for. This scale is really easy to use, accurate, reliable and features brand name quality.

We want to take a quick look at the Brecknell price computing scale which is available in two different capacities – thirty-pound or sixty-pound and this is what we would call our basic price computing scale which has the price computing function. It also displays weight in lb, kilogram or ounces. The scale features built-in rechargeable battery. Basic price computing function is pretty easy. Just place your item(s) on the scale and enter the price per pound that you want to charge your customer. The scale will then compute the total costs that your customer owes you.

PLU or Price Look Ups are an easy way to program popular items in your scale for quicker recall. Let’s say that you sell a lot of strawberries. You could program strawberries into your PLU number 1 button at $3.99 per pound. Now when someone brings a bucket of strawberries to the scale, place an empty bucket on the scale, press Tare and then press PLU button number 1.

One question that we are asked often is backlight display options. The Brecknell PC30 and PC60 have three different backlight choices. You can have the backlight display “auto” which basically means that the back-lite will display when something is added to the scale platter. You can turn the backlight off totally which will help to increase battery life. Or, you can have the backlight on all the time.

Selling Fruits and Vegetables To Customers By Weight

When you sell your fresh produce at the market or the produce stand you have several choices. You can sell your items pre packed in a bucket or container for a fixed price or you can sell your items by the pound. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we’re fans of selling and buying produce by weight. This way both the customer and the seller know what they are exchanging. Let’s face it we’ve all purchased something over the years that we felt like wasn’t a good deal. One example might be a bucket of strawberries that a local u-pic farm was offering. They offer it at a certain price but how many strawberries did we really get? Take a look at the info below that discusses Illinois regulations.

Selling by Weight
Commodities must be sold by net weight. The weight of the commodity must exclude any materials that are not considered to be a part of the commodity. These materials include containers, bags, labels, and wrappers. Commodities sold by weight must be weighed using a certified scale.

Scale Requirements
All scales used in commerce must have a National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Certificate of Conformance issued by the National Conference on Weights and Measures. Scales receive an NTEP Certificate of Conformance after the successful completion of the evaluation and testing of the device.
The Certificate indicates that the device meets applicable requirements for commercial weighing and measuring equipment in the U.S. Scales must be purchased from a registered service company.


If you’re a loyal reader of our blog you understand by now that we are believers in buying NTEP Class III legal for trade scales. These scales are usually a higher quality product and are designed for accuracy and typically are built with a slightly more expensive parts list. This means that these scales usually have better load cells inside, better A/D boards, and just generally a better more solid structure.

More Farmers Market Rules and Regulations To Read About

Most of the information posted below is pretty standard but we thought it would be nice to bring it to our readers attention just in case. Especially, those of you up in Maine. You can see the entire brochure by clicking here.

7. “Legal For Trade Scales for Use at Farm Stands and Farmer’s Markets” means labeled as Class II or Class III, National Type Evaluation(NTEP) certified, small division size, operates at a higher level of accuracy than a
non-legal for trade device.
9. “Net Weight” means the weight of a commodity excluding the weight of any material, substance or item not a part of the commodity (i.e.: containers, bags, wrappers, labels).
10. “Non-Legal For Trade Scales” means not certified by the Maine State Sealer of Weights and Measures, not NTEP certified, not designed to operate at commercial tolerance levels, only used for estimating purposes.

G. WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
1. The weight of any commodity packaged with a pre-determined weight printed on the label must meet or exceed the labeled quantity.
2. Products sold in bulk by weight must be weighed using a ME certified scales.
3. Weight of products sold in bulk must be the Net Weight.
4. Scales used at point of sale must be positioned so the weight readout can be seen from a reasonable customer location.

As we mentioned, it’s pretty standard info but it’s always nice to read additional regulations which will hopefully help sellers at the market to know what the regulations are and allow them to make the correct purchases in order to follow the proper guidelines.

Do You Have Anymore Mettler Toledo 8433 Scales?

We were just recently asked if we know anybody who had anymore of those Mettler Toledo™ 8433 price computing scales? This scale has been discontinued for probably ten years by now. But it doesn’t really surprise us that folks are looking for this scale. The 8433 was actually a really good scale for the money. We still see a few of these out in the field to this day. Those customers sure got their money’s worth on that purchase.

So you might be asking what takes the 8433 scales place? Well, originally it was the Tiger II. Then the factory started offering both a 30 lb and 60 lb capacity, called the Model XRT-2710 or XRT-3710. Then it was the RE15 or RE30 from Ohaus. Now today, the replacement would be the Aviator 7000.

We were fairly familiar with all these scales mentioned above. They all worked pretty well and we still see each of these at farmers markets or produce stands all the time. Of course, as the years go by each replacement model seems to have less substance to it and more plastic construction. And, the AC adapters are smaller and extremely light weight compared to some of the older adapters that literally weighed several pounds by themselves.

We wrote recently about the Aviator 7000 which is the 2014 “version” of the old 8433 scale. The Aviator 7000 is a really nice scale and has quite a few features the 8433 could only dream about.  Based on our evaluation of the scale, we would definitely recommend it as a good choice for most customers looking for a reliable retail scale that is going to be accurate and power up when you need it most.

Dual Range Capacity Scales Can Put Some Extra Cents In Your Pocket

We’ve discussed this in the past a couple of times but it’s worth mentioning once again. NTEP legal for trade digital scales that feature dual range capacity can actually put a few extra pennies in your pocket on certain transactions. In the video linked below, you can actually see an example where one scale has dual range capacity while another one does not.

As we mentioned, you probably will not gain on every transaction, but you certainly can gain some extra profit with the dual range capability on certain transactions. We’ll leave it up to you to get a calculator and start thinking about how much additional profit you might obtain over the life of the scales if you were to make the switch to one of these scales.

What is the Best Way to Sell Fruits and Vegetables at the Farmers Market?

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get excited just thinking about sampling all the fresh fruits, vegetables, tasty ready-to-eat foods, crafts, and more at your local farmers market?  The majority of Markets are open during this time of the year. Have you ever wondered what does the Department of Agriculture require of me in order to be a vendor at my local farmers market? What kind of scale do I need? Will someone test my scale? Is it ok to sell my produce by the head, bunch or count? These are just a few of the questions that your local Measurement Standards Division can assist you with. Below is some information from the state of Oregon.

SCALE REQUIREMENTS
What type of devices can be used commercially?
Oregon regulations require all commercially used weighing equipment to have an active National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Certificate of Conformance.

How can I find out which scales have an active NTEP certificate?
You can contact the scale company or check the NTEP database online.

 

Commodity Method of Sale
Apples Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Apricots Weight
Artichokes Weight or count
Asparagus Weight or bunch
Avocados Count
Bananas Weight
Beans Weight or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Beets Weight or bunch
Berries (all) Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Broccoli Weight or bunch
Brussel sprouts Weight
Cabbage Weight or count
Cantaloupes Weight or count
Carrots Weight or bunch
Cauliflower Weight or bunch
Celery Weight or count
Cherries Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Coconuts Weight or count
Corn on the cob Count
Cranberries Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Cucumbers Weight or count
Currants Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Dates Weight
Eggplant Weight or count
Escarole Weight or count
Figs Weight
Garlic Weight or count
Grapefruits Weight or count
Grapes Weight
Greens (all) Weight
Kale Weight
Kohlrabi Weight
Leeks Weight
Lemons Weight or count
Lettuce Weight or count
Limes Weight or count
Mangoes Weight or count
Melons (whole) Weight or count
Melons (cut or pieces) Weight
Mushrooms Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Nectarines Weight or count
Okra Weight
Onions (spring or green) Weight or bunch
Onions (dry) Weight
Oranges Weight or count
Papaya Weight or count
Parsley Weight or bunch
Parsnips Weight
Peaches Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Pears Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Peas Weight
Peppers Weight or count
Persimmons Weight or count
Plums Weight or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Pineapples Weight or count
Pomegranates Weight or count
Potatoes (Irish or sweet) Weight
Prunes Weight
Pumpkins Weight or count
Radishes Weight or count
Rhubarb Weight
Rutabagas Weight
Spinach Weight or bunch
Tangerines Weight or count
Tomatoes Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Tomatoes (cherry) Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Turnips Weight or bunch


We hope this article above helps you not only figure out what scale you need for selling at the farmers market but also what are some of the recommended ways (weight, count, bunch etc..) to sell your produce and vegetables. Of course we’re biased on this site because we think weight is the best choice and it probably is, in most cases with a few exceptions.