Tales From the Farmer’s Market
We started selling our product at farmer’s markets when we lived in Florida in 2016. We had two regular markets which we attended and just loved the people and atmosphere of each. There’s really nothing like a vibrant farmer’s market where you can purchase and sample high quality local products and also get to know the story behind the product’s creator. Also adding to the atmosphere are some of the memorable characters the market would sometimes attract. Here are our top 5 market characters:
- The Zoologist - Over the course of nearly two years at the farmer’s market, we were quite surprized by the number of interesting animals that would make an appearance with their owners. Aside from being a dog social, on any given day you could find people who brought along their pet bird, lizard, pot belly pig, miniature horse, goat or ferret. Who needs the zoo?
* A market regular, this bird also leaned in for kisses
- The Sample Bandit: We loved offering samples to people at the market. It offered the chance to see how people enjoyed your product and get their direct feedback. Every now and then, there were the people who would visit your booth who were referred to as “sample bandits” - those who would consistently sample your product, but never buy. We had one gentleman who would come to our stall every week, give us fantastic feedback, tell us how he had financial resources to “take us to the next level”, yet refused to actually buy our product once in 2 years. Another weekly occurrence was to batten down the hatches for the sample bandit family. Nearly every week, a family of 6 would make their way through the market like a hurricane, consuming all samples in their patch, but never actually buying a thing.
- The Haggler: Some people think because they’re buying at a farmer’s market, they’re entitled to a Craig’s List discount, or that whatever they buy should be cheap compared to a retail store. Vendors at farmer’s markets produce their high-quality goods themselves, which takes time, effort and energy. They don’t outsource their product fabrication to China like Walmart. For every haggler that approached our market stall, we wanted to ask, “Do you ask cashiers at the grocery store to pay less for the food in your cart?” Of course they didn’t, so they shouldn’t ask to pay less at a farmer’s market, either.
- The Stage 5 Clinger: Don’t get us wrong, we love talking to folks at the farmers’ market and we like to get to know our customers. Occasionally, however, there would be someone who would think they needed to go off on a half hour political tangent at your market stand. This would always make for an awkward situation, as you tried to find a polite way to shut them down as you had other customers to wait on. We had another gentleman who claimed he was a certified physiotherapist and would approach market stands to try and convince you there was something wrong with your body, or the way you were standing. He would then propose to work on you with a ring of strange looking massage balls, all the while you were trying to work in your market stand. Thanks, but no thanks!
- The Healthy Food Hater: Most foods that were offered at our farmers market were healthy, locally made and organic. On a few occasions, when we offered samples and mentioned the health qualities of our granola bars, we were met by immediate pushback. “Sounds too healthy to me”, or a very sarcastic “I love gluten, I’m not trying them”. We had one woman go off on a rant about how she refused to eat anything that was organic, because she was convinced organic food was dangerous. Well, considering she was at an organic farmer’s market, she may have been shopping in the wrong place!
Those are out most memorable farmer’s market characters, and we’re sure they’re common to farmer’s markets everywhere. We still laugh when we remember them today. We feel very fortunate that we were embraced by our local farmer’s market community when we were first starting out, and part of us will always be with the New Smyrna Beach farmer’s market and the DeLand Artisan Alley farmer’s market in Volusia county, Florida.