“Have I got the right mix of vendors?”
We worked with the farmers market in Williamsburg VA (WFM) for many years and the manager, Tracey Herner is, like you, a gem. The market is in historic Williamsburg, VA, a small, tourist-oriented city with a mix of consumer types, service workers and middle-class professionals. Since opening in 2002, WFM’s market managers collected basic vendor sales reports, weather, customer and vendor counts along with other data to help managers understand the impact of decisions.
WFM decided they wanted to put their data to work and pinpoint exactly what drove their customers to attend the market and purchase things and if the market should close on rainy days. This need for farmers market facts drove Alfonso Morales and his team at University to develop Farm 2 Facts, previously known as MIFI. With WFM’s data in hand, the farmers market professionals went to work.
The variety of vendor products had the biggest impact on vendor and market sales. Not the weather, not the season, not even booms and busts in the economy. Keep in mind that Williamsburg VA is both a college town (William and Mary) as well as a city of historic interest (Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestowne). While the market enjoys educated consumers, like most tourist destinations there is substantial economic inequality and food insecurity. Customers, rich and poor, certainly demand and enjoy a diverse array of products.
Tracey was also torn on whether or not to stay open on rainy days. Given the vendor attendance and visitor count data, F2F was able to come to the conclusion that yes, it’s worth it. The total number of visitors will definitely be smaller, but F2F found that the people who show up will spend whatever they would have on any other day. So, have that market! Rain or shine!
The bottom line– the more diverse the vendor types at the market – the greater the sales, for all vendors-come rain or shine! Helping people engage in “one stop” shopping is your ticket to greater sales and other local economic benefits.
Farm 2 Facts is here to support you in your journey to understanding your market. Learn more at www.farm2facts.org or like our Facebook to learn how to develop your decision-making and stay up to date on farmers market research.