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.

 

 

Farmers Markets are Opening Up In Your Area!

It’s an exciting time of the year isn’t it? Spring time is here and for many folks that means it is time to go to the local farmers market and pick up some farm fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course we’re partial to strawberries but the truth is there are lots of other types of produce and related items that you can purchase at your local market. See more here.

Are you ready for farmers’ market season? I know I am, and this year will be action packed. Many of our markets are opening up within the next couple of weeks, and there will be an abundance of delicious local goodies. If you did not buy anything over the winter from our local farms, this will be the time to stock up. To get ready for the season, there are a few things you may want to think about before you go to the market. Go early or at least mid-market hours so that you can get what you want. Build a relationship with the growers, and pre-order your items if you are not an early person. Just get there before the market closes. Most of the grower/vendors would love to have pre-orders so they know exactly what they need to bring. Don’t go late expecting the growers to cut their prices in half. These farmers have spent many hours and hard labor to get you the best products available. There is a very small margin of profit in what they sell you, and sometimes it is even at a loss. If we don’t pay our growers what they need to earn a profit, we will soon lose out on our farmers.

Bring a cooler, especially if you plan to grab lunch before heading home. This will keep your frozen meats, seafood and tender fruits and vegetables good for a few hours. If you want to make a conscious effort to buy local, make a meal plan for the week. Start your grocery shopping at the market first. This way you will get the freshest produce (most are picked the day/night before or early on the morning of the market), best price and everything you need.

Going to the farmers market is great for your family too. Children love to see all the different fruits and vegetables and interact with all the different people. Plus, you’re also providing fresh fruits and vegetables to your children which is a great way to promote nutrition as well.

Is There Still A Hanging Produce Scale For Sale That’s Certified Legal For Trade?

We usually focus on the digital retail scales that you see at the market each week but today we wanted to look at a classic scale you’ve probably seen at a produce market. You would be surprised at how often customers ask if they can still purchase a hanging scale for weighing their produce at the farmers market. Even though we now have the super fast and relatively reliable digital scales available, many customers actually ask for the proven performer with the dial that spins around to display the weight. Sometimes it actually does make a lot of sense to choose one of these classics. If you don’t want to fool around with batteries every few weeks, then a hanging dial scale might be a good choice. If your location has an overhang or tent that is easy to attach a scale to, then this might be a good idea for you.

NTEP certified hanging produce scales

Of course, if you choose to go this route, you will want to choose a NTEP certified legal for trade hanging scale like the Chatillon series. It’s also a good idea to get a scale that has the double dial so both sides can see the dial and completely agree on the weight that is listed on the scale dial. Unfortunately, if you do choose one of these scales, you will need to bring your calculator with you to calculate the price per pound.

The Chatillon Century Series hanging scale is well known for  accuracy, dependability and reliability. The Century Series feature a glass-covered 7-inch dial that reads clockwise. A double dial option is available (one dial reads clockwise, the other counter clockwise). These scales feature a corrosion-resistant band, bezel and housing and have a rugged, steel inner frame. Scale capacities are reached in two pointer revolutions.

The Centry Series are Class lll “Legal for Trade” scales. Century Series can be supplied with a CG Series scoop or the popular CAS circular pan. The CAS Pan is constructed of stainless steel. 3-inch deep round pan has drain holes. The CG Scoop is ideal for weighing loose materials. Scoop and suspension chain of galvanized construction.

Buy New Produce Scales Or Keep My Old Hanging Scales?

A few times a year we’ll get an email or a call from someone who will ask about digital scales. Basically they are fishing for scale knowledge to determine if it makes sense for them to scrap their old hanging scales for weighing fruits and vegetables. In many cases they really want to buy the cool new digital price computing scale like their buddies at the farmers market. They just need a little justification in order to make it “legit”. Honestly, if the used hanging scale is still working it probably has a very long lifespan and could easily last for many years. However, the real selling point with the new and “fancy” digital retail scale is the fact that many of them can calculate the price per pound. This can be a real time savings and can make your operation seem a little more professional in the eyes of your customer.  Let’s face it your customers have other options when it comes to buying fresh produce so you want to do everything you can to accommodate them and provide them with the product and service they expect. If you were to sell them some vegetables and then you take out a pencil and paper or you reach for a calculator, the customer is probably not going to be thrilled. Especially when your neighbor two tables down from you has three legal for trade digital scales up and running. His customers orders are processed quickly and efficiently.  That is why sometimes we refer to the old hanging scales as vintage produce scales because you just don’t see too many of them. Or, they seem to show up in certain regions of the country.  Some of you might be asking when exactly are produce scales used? The simple answer would be that you may use them in a buying or selling commercial situation.

We generally don’t get into the whole used produce scales for sale type promotions because we don’t have too many used ones available.  Most of the time when we get Continue reading

What is the best farmers market scale?

As the title suggests this article is going to focus on one topic. What is the best farmers market scale? This can be a tough choice since there are many good choices in the market place. Often the same brands and models rise to the top year after year.

I decided to do some research and look at past sales and how reliable certain scales have been over the past year. After doing that, the conclusion that I have come to is simple. If you are looking for a durable product that is going to last you for many years, the ideal Continue reading

American’s Need To Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

There is no question that we all need to eat healthier and frequent our local farmers markets and produce stands so we can consume fresh fruits and vegetables. The following paragraph is from the latest government dietary guidelines.

The call to action, ultimately, Americans make their own food and physical activity choices at the individual (and family) level. In order for Americans to make healthy choices, however, they need to have opportunities to purchase and consume healthy foods and engage in physical activity. One way to do this is to ensure that all Americans have access to nutritious foods. Research has demonstrated that some Americans lack access to affordable nutritious foods. This lack of access makes it a challenge for many Americans to consume a diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Thus, access may be Continue reading

Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

On this blog, we focus on scales for weighing produce. However, we also like to consume fresh produce and are always looking for ways to prolong the freshness of our favorite fruits and vegetables. We all like fresh produce, but how can we keep it fresh longer? “How you store fruits and vegetables will impact how fresh your produce will stay,” says Erin Palinski, RD, a registered dietitian in private practice in northern New Jersey. Below are some food storage tips for common fruits and vegetables from Everyday Health.  Click the Everyday Health link to read the entire article.

Apples: At room temperature for up to seven days or refrigerated in a plastic bag if you won’t eat them that quickly.
Bananas: At room temperature, both ripe and unripe.
Grapefruit: At room temperature for one week or refrigerated for up to two or three weeks.
Peaches: At room temperature in a paper bag if unripe; remove from the bag when ripe and eat within a day or two. Continue reading

Commercial Scales for the Farmers Market Can Cost over $400

Legal for Trade Commercial scales can cost well over $400, but if you do a little research, you won’t pay near that much for a set of high quality farmers market scales.  Yes, you could get away with using a set of “household” scales, either hanging or digital, but that is ultimately not the way to establish trust and legitimacy with your customer who is buying produce from you.

Do some research and buy a legal for trade price computing scale that can be certified by the state.  In most states it is a requirement.  However, sometimes due to budget restraints and manpower, merchants get the idea that they can get away with not purchasing a legal for trade scale.  Sometimes every now and then you hear comments Continue reading

Hanging Produce scales are a thing of the past

If you stop and think about it, you’ve seen them at the farmer’s market, the deli, even the grocery store. Digital Produce scales that allow vendors to easily weigh their fruits and vegetables and charge their customers by the pound. In the past, many of these produce scales were mechanical hanging scales. But lately, more and more farmer’s market vendors are choosing digital produce scales for the market. Why? Because they’re relatively inexpensive, are battery powered, and provide the cost per Continue reading

Farmer’s Market Weighing

We hear these questions below all the time.

1. Does anyone know what/if there are regulations for what type of scale
     a produce vendor uses at farmers markets?
2. Do other farmers have their scales certified by a state
      Weights and Measures department?
3. Is digital better than an old mechanical hanging dial scale?

If you’re curious or new to the farmer’s market or produce stand business and need a legal for trade scale for weighing  apples, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, squash and more; scroll down because we have answers to many of your questions.

First up regulations and certifications. Check with your state weights and measures standards department for the specific requirements (you should Continue reading