When I’m on vacation my main priority is food and drink. Ok, let’s be honest – even when I’m not on vacation, my main priority is food and drink! My favorite things to do in a new city are to walk around and eat snacks. And even though I spend quite a bit of my work week at farmers’ markets, I also seek them out when I’m away from home. Farmers’ markets are a great way to interact with locals and dive into the local food scene.
During the summer months, farmers’ market vendors will likely see many new (slightly sunburnt) faces roaming the booths at their weekly markets. While some vendors scoff at the droves of pesky tourists, if you’re interested in expanding your network, you should embrace the infusion of vacationing farmers’ market shoppers. They’re at the market, they’re on vacation, they’re relaxed. Chances are they’re ready to spend some money!
Here are some tips on how to make nice with the tourists and increase your sales during those busy summer months.
Grab and go is the way to go
For some tourists, the farmers’ market is a destination – they are there to eat and will likely b-line for the hot food booths. Other visitors may be stopping at the market on their way somewhere else. These visitors will probably be more interested in pre-packaged items they can take with them on their next adventure.
Whether the next stop is the beach or a picnic in the park, tourists may prefer grab and go items like salads, chips and salsa, baguettes, cheese, spreads, and fresh squeezed juice. If you sell snack items like granola, kale chips, or nuts, encourage customers to throw them in their backpack for when they get hungry later. Play up the fact that your product is good on the go!
Produce vendors may want to consider selling more value added items during the busy summer months, if their market allows it. Also, it’s a good idea to provide customers with simple recipes they could throw together at their beach rental or Airbnb. Put together “make your own” kits for treats like guacamole or fruit salad. Some people actually like to cook while on vacation!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard customers at the farmers’ market say “I wish I could take home a jar of your sauce, but I only brought a carry on.” If you’re selling items like olive oil, hot sauce, honey or jam, consider selling 3 oz. containers that can make it through airport security. People love to buy souvenirs at the farmers’ market!
Visitors from out of town may be hesitant to buy a bunch of stuff from the farmers’ market if they don’t have anywhere to put it in their luggage or a way to carry it home. Reel in that sale by offering them a tote bag with your logo on it for a $5 upcharge. Or maybe even offer the option to ship it to them at home. Going the extra mile can greatly increase your sales.
Develop the long-distance relationship
Just because someone doesn’t live locally doesn’t mean they won’t become a long-term customer. Treat them the same way you would any farmers’ market shopper! Get them on your mailing list. Tell them how they can follow you on social media. Put a business card in their shopping bag. Do whatever it takes to make sure that next time they’re in town they come visit your booth!
Although it can sometimes feel like your local neighborhood market is being overrun with out-of-towners, seasonal visitors are an important part of the farmers’ market business. Make the most of those busy summer months and brighten someone’s vacation while you’re at it. Take the opportunity to show visitors what amazing local food and hospitality your town has to offer!