If you want to sell your baked goods at a farmer's market, you have to be prepared; you can't just throw some cookies on a folding table and expect to make sales. When people go to the farmer's market, they expect to find handcrafted wares made and sold with pride, so take pride in your own work by giving it the display it deserves. By doing this, you entice customers, gain publicity and fans, make sales and develop a reputation as a skilled craftsperson and professional.
Visit local farmer's markets to determine which one is right for you. Consider the location, hours, and whether or not the market appears to be busy. Check out other vendors, too—do any of them sell items that are in direct competition with your own? (See References 1)
Inquire about renting a space at the farmer's market of your choosing. Ask about the types of wares people are permitted to sell—at some markets, vendors may not be permitted to sell goods that have been prepared in a private home. (See References 2) You will need to apply and pay for a stand at the market.
Package your baked goods in bundles, such as by the half-dozen or dozen. Apply discounts to higher quantities to encourage people to buy more. For example, price a set of one dozen cookies for less than twice the cost of a half-dozen.
Create signs for your products. Advertise prices and ingredients clearly to entice customers and save them the trouble of asking questions. Describe flavors and textures for customers using colorful markers and clear handwriting. (See References 3)
Set up your table at the farmer's market—you may or may not need to bring your own, based on the rules of the market. Decorate it with a colorful table cloth, and, if it is not a covered market, consider setting up a canopy to shade you and your customers. (See References 4, 5)
Stock your cash box with small bills and change.
Offer samples to curious customers. It benefits your image and proves to any skeptics how good your product is. (See References 3)
Keep your table and stands full. Nobody wants to visit a stand that looks as if it has been picked clean, so as you sell your goods, restock the table. When plates and baskets run low, switch to smaller plates and baskets so they look full. (See References 3)
Attach business cards to bundles of baked goods. This way, people remember who they bought their food from. If you run a business outside of the farmer's market, like an independent bakery, this may also increase brand recognition and bring you more customers. (See References 1)
Visit the same market on a regular basis so that your customers know when and where to find you.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.