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.

 

 

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.

Legal for Trade Scale Requirements

Quite often many customers purchase new digital scales or they have their current scale calibrated or certified. These are typically scales they can use at places like the farmer’s market to sell their produce by the pound. Basically any device used where items are bought or sold by weight is normally required by most state’s laws to be inspected and certified each year. This would include a counter top digital scale at a farmer’s market (or mechanical hanging scale) that is used to weigh produce that customers want to buy. Of course, inspecting a retail scale is an advantage to both the farmer and the customer. As you can see below it’s important to have accurate and legal weighing equipment.

 Keep in mind the article was for South Dakota, so be sure to check with your state department of agriculture or weights and measures to see what your state’s rules are. The author of the article also said if you do not want to purchase a certified scale then you must sell your items by the bag, piece, or bunch — or in pint or quart containers. This is not the selling method I would recommend. These days customers are counting every penny and want to know exactly what they’re paying for. Your customers want to know exactly how much they’re buying and likewise how much it costs. Even if you chose to not use a certified scale at the market, you still might want to check weigh some of the bags or buckets to make sure that you and the customer are getting the correct portions versus profits.

Of course we’ve discussed this topic before on this site but if you are buying or selling your items based on weight, you want to make sure that you purchase a scale that has NTEP approval with a certificate of conformance number.  The CoC# should be on the side of the scale in most cases.

New And Improved S2000Jr’s

After listening to your requests, CAS Corporation has added new features to the S2000 Jr Price Computing Scale for 2011 available now at the same low price as always. The new version of S2000 JR’s now available include the following features:

  • Weigh items in pounds, kilograms, or ounces
  • 36 direct speed keys added to pole models
  • VFD models now equipped with a rechargeable battery
  • Optional DEP-50 Receipt Printer now works with S2KJR

Certified Scales

Often consumers search for “certified scales” and they get lumped together with legal for trade NTEP Approved scales. Technically, a scale can be NTEP approved legal for trade and not be “certified”. Often times, the proper procedure for obtaining a “certified scale” is to do the following.

1. Buy a NTEP Approved Legal for Trade Scale. In most cases, you do not receive any paperwork saying your scale is “certified”. All you receive is your scale, with the certificate of conformance number (CoC#) stamped on the side of the scale.
2. Have the scale checked and calibrated in your store or at your produce stand, in other words in its final working location — by either a local scale company or the state weights & measures. At this point, in most cases, you receive paperwork showing the test results.
3. Have the state weights & measures come by and “certify” your scale and place their sticker on the scale.

So as you can see, in most cases you can search for and buy “certified scales” but they aren’t quite certified until you do a little homework upon receiving your scale.  The reason for this is simple. A scale can be NTEP approved and have a CoC# but that doesn’t mean it is 100 percent accurate. Perhaps the scale was calibrated in a different region of the country and gravity has changed just enough to throw the calibration off. Suppose the delivery company decided to use your scale as a football? That can very easily throw off the calibration of a scale. That is why it is always a good idea to buy your NTEP Approved “certified scale” and get it checked and calibrated locally to ensure you comply with your state regulations.

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

Spring time is almost here

We mentioned this back in January and we want to emphasize it one more time. This month is a great time to take out your old faithful price computing scale and give it a good work out. Plug it in and make sure it powers up and charges if it has a battery. It might even be a good idea to order a spare battery to prepare for the spring. Make 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