Develop a Following
First, remember the market serves many purposes for different people. For example, people want to have some fun! Invite the local high school musicians to play music. People want to see their friends and connect with their community. Invite the local religious organizations to have a day at the market, perhaps even a church bazaar. Vendors are trying to make some money, and these visitors will become customers. Some will even be returning customers over the long run.
Second, develop local relationships and business partners. Remind the local organizations that the market can serve to create community connections. For instance, the county health department may want to host an event or two at the market. Markets are multi-functional and you’ll do well to keep those relationships open – even to program for regular participation from organizations.
Third, maintain a consistent market schedule. The weather actually does not matter as much as you think it does. It’s true, regular shoppers are committed to your market and vendors grow to depend on you so try not to let a week go by without the market. Research I’ve written for the upcoming Winter 2019 Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development shows for how weather matters relatively little to sales and encourage them to work with you to test this idea.
Fourth, remember that your vendors don’t mind that you’re small – often they are as well. Make sure your market is open to different kinds of vendors, small farmers starting out, high school 4H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) kids aiming for awards or a few bucks in their pocket. They will learn from your regular vendors and the camaraderie will enhance the spirit of your market.
Your Community Needs You
Remember that the neighborhood or city needs you. Sure, your market might be a good habit in shoppers weekly lives, but it is more than that to your city or neighborhood. You’re providing a public service and making your place great – and you can show folks how important you are in many different ways. Maintain those relationships and keep working – you, your market, and your community are worth it. Many local governments and communities even offer grants to help farmer’s markets run. Eventually, you may even be able to apply to federal grants through the USDA.
If you are struggling to find a way prove your market’s impact to your community, Farm 2 Facts is a tested, science-backed toolkit for gathering data and developing easy to understand infographics and data points. F2F tools were developed in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the USDA in order to provide markets an easy system to test the impact on their community and local economy. Still not sure if this is right for you? Request a free demo today to see the impact you can make to your community.