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  1. #1
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    Jul 2009
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    Chippew County, WI, USA
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    Default I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I finally got the news I wanted to hear about being able to sell my honey at a local farmers market in a well off neighborhood. The Store originally called of the farmers market but thankfully changed their mind and I desperately need the convenient spot that is right on my way to work so I can sit there for a couple hours a few days a week.

    I want to be able to pull up in my crew cab with a topper, set up shop in 10 minutes, and close down in ten minutes. I know there are easy pop up tents and all but all I think I need is a fold up table with a display pyramid, several size and styles of jars, and some sort of shade. That said I would really, really appreciate it if the pros here could give me some pointers on how to draw em in, and sell honey like its going out of style.

    I have heard a small ob hive works well. But how do I draw them in? Everyone is in a hurry these days to get in and out of the stores asap. I will obviously need some kind of eye candy to get them interested.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    My opinion is that it is all in the impression you make on the customers when they first see you. While being able to set up and tear down really quickly is nice, are you giving a really good image to your customers? I have a 10X10 (lucked out on a black and yellow one!) and I have my tables in an L on the outside. I try to get a corner when possible. I found that customers were often hesitant to come into the tent so using the outside works well for me. I always have an ulster observation hive in the corner of the L and it is a HUGE draw.Once I started doing the larger setup, my sales surged. It is WELL worth the extra time it takes to set up and break down. I would also advise that you get your own logo and have labels that look nothing like what others might sell. the customer will look for your jar the next time they need honey. If you use a standard label with just your name and address on it, they may get another honey with a similar label.
    Above all you, your space and your product must look professional.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    North Tazewell, Virginia
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Island Apiaries you drove that nail home impression and cutomer svc means everything.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,846

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Sales at markets in general.
    You want your display to attract attention. Observation hives. It just looks good etc. Folks look around at sales and you want their eye to see something worth a closer look in your set up.

    Have you shared your plan to set up be their a couple of hours and then scoot with the promoter of the market? Many require you be there for all the hours of the sale for example. You may not have that problem if the promoter is having trouble filling space. Would be the first sign to me a market is not worth attending though. Remember it is the promoters job to bring you customers.

    When I think of a honey display I think of old and they look old wooden tables. checkered table cloths and nice looking containers that woudl make a presentation as a gift or setting on someones table at home. Lower priced or bulk honey can be sold but I woudl not want it up front and the first thing people see.

    Keep a display looking full but do not offer an over whelming variety. You don't want to look like you just drug a few jars of honey out of the garage and decided to try and sell them.

    Smile ans say good morning to everyone. Nod your head at them and ask how they are doing. many more will stop and look at your honey. they ask a question or two. They are already thinking "Do I want some honey"? all you need to do is help them decide the answer is yes. Listen for what they are thinking in what they say. are they looking for a gift? Are they really not a honey user but think they should be? Are they avid honey eaters and looking for a better price or product, more convenient source etc. Are they a honey producer interested in where to get those nice looking bottles? Many people get irritated with that one. I don't, they can get those bottles from me. at a slight mark up of course. Some will indicate interest in keeping bees. Be very friendly because word get around. Btu a sale always takes priority over a nice chat. Handle both without putting off either. include your buying customer int eh chat long enough to make the sale. People buy from people they like and they decide if they like you in about .025 seconds.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Arlington, OH, USA
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    This is our first year with farmers markets and we have learned TONS! Like the others say, professionalism speaks volumes. You have to present yourself that beekeeping is a passion. We already know it is, but you have to show it. Make your tent, table, and product about the bees. I don't think you have to make your honey look "giftish". We use 1lb bears and Qt. jars. There is a lady across the way from us who sells another beekeepers honey and rarely sells any. Her honey is in jars with a nice frilly cap covered in cloth. It is giftish. She doesn't know about the bees so she can't answer questions though. One thing we learned, and it was pure luck of the draw, having more than just raw honey on your table helps. My wife handles our wax products. She makes chap stick, candles, soap, and wax bars. But we also happened to tap for maple syrup in the off season for bees and have it on the table too. With all of this combined, we are doing very well. I am working on an observation hive. Members of our bee club have wrote off the farmers markets because they only sell about $20 a week in 3 hours. But with our variety of bee products and syrup, we do very well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Maumee, OH
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Did you think about facebook.com that like thumb sings get's me a ton of sell's w all the smart phones that r out there, put it up and watch how meany will scan it and read it later than come back to buy.With all the people on facebook.com my sell's have taken off.
    Put your ear against a hive in January when it is -20 degrees. Hearing the hum is priceless to me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Ohiobeek makes a REALLY good point. Having a variety of products really helps. I try to have 3 varieties of honey, a couple of infused honeys, candles ,wax and hand balms. I have had other beekeepers tell me that one of the markets I work was wasted time before I started there. they never made more than $50 on a good day. I regularly pull in $600-$1000 at that market. Another trick I use to get a draw to my booth is I give away 1 honey stick to each child at the first couple of markets at the season. the parents will more often than not buy a jar. the free sticks often end up in a sale of one of my 20 honey stick packs too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Citrus County, Florida, United States
    Posts
    258

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I live in Florida and the amount of local honey and farmer's markets and festivals is simply overwhelming. Anyways, I'll give you my impressions from the customer side of things since I try to do as much buying as possible from local farmers and producers. I do buy local honey, but not local honey from ALL PRODUCERS/VENDORS. I also have a sales and marketing background and have sold several different product across several marketplaces, but lots of things in sales and marketing are universal.

    1. Only have one shot to make a first impression! The others here serve you well with that advice. Perhaps a simple, clean polo style shirt with your "brand" or apiary name on it. If you go that route, make sure all working the area also look similar (branding).
    2. Gotta have a HOOK. Billy Mays certainly was a master of this. Hook also ties into the first impression. The observation hive idea from Island Apiaries is a great and indeed solid idea, but costly perhaps. Other hooks can be simply you and your projection of positive energy and eagerness to "help" and "show". Notice I typed "show", not "tell". It's always about the customer and the product. Product must solve a need or want in the customer. Merchants that go on about themselves and "their" operation usually lose. It's okay to ask customers SOME probing questions, but too many is a turn off.
    3. IMPORTANT: The product should appeal to as many senses as possible whenever possible. This is a critical factor in closing more sales and has been researched and confirmed as sales and marketing fact (not going to argue it, it's been proven and it works). Honey and products from the hive give you the opportunity to appeal to just about every human sense. In other words...IF YOU'RE NOT PROVIDING THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAMPLE THE HONEY, YOU'RE ALREADY LOSING. Just about every grocery store vendor knows and tries to do this. Every salesman that offers samples and product demonstrations try to do this as well. Customers handling, smelling and tasting the product is good.
    4. Passion and KNOWLEDGE. Being nice and having a good product will sell a lot of things, but having the total working knowledge behind it separates winners and losers. Again, others have alluded to this, but also having the INTELLIGENCE to know just how much to "discuss" or talk to your customers about is critical. Most customers only have time for and want one key thing addressed in regards to your product. Offering a taste will push samplers to buyers, but some will need more and that's where knowing what the benefits of local honey are as well as WHY LOCAL HONEY. I'd also bone up on honey in the store and help the customers become informed decision makers about their purchasing habits. You should also know a little about the "science" behind the local honey theory.
    5. Variety: A little variety is good and shows that you're not a one trick pony. It's best if the products are related. An example is comb honey, raw honey in jars, creamed honey, raw beeswax bars, etc... Also a variety of price points is critical. Many times people will want to reciprocate or "support" the local talent as long as you make it affordable. Prices and products at several tiers is important. This could be as simple as having a solid variety of honey sizes.

    These are my observations from a consumer perspective regarding local honey, who I buy from and why. I do eat a lot of local honey, but not everyone's honey.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    775

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    The biggest thing to market is yourself, the beekeeper.

    You have gotten good advice. A range of products adds interest. This could be various sized containers. Don't overlook small containers. The little 2 oz bears are great for a little snack for kids. Selling seperate extractions with different colors and flavors adds value. Figure out a way to do samples. Let people taste what raw, local honey tastes like. People who haven't had it don't know what they are missing! One local guy gives samples of his different varieties on a plastic spoon. I have heard of others having jars that people could dip pretzel sticks into. You don't have to worry about disposal with the pretzel sticks.

    Wear a nice shirt. It may or may not have your apiary name on it. You don't want to look like you just finished pulling supers on a 95 degree day!

    Go to a fabric store and buy a couple of yards of attractive fabric as a table drape. You don't need to hem.

    While you want to be efficient with your time don't be fast at the expense of attractiveness. It you have product in totes you can set under the table but, out of site because of the table drape, you have it handy but out of sight.

    Having a smoker, veil, observation hive, empty brood frame/boxes, frame of capped honey, small extractor, ect. adds to the customer interest and gives you talking points.

    You may also want to have some nicer containers that people can use for gifts.

    Finally, don't under-price your product. It is the best honey money can buy. And, you had to take time and effort to go to the market to sell. Look at this as an opportunity to market your business. Sales that day are great. Loyal customers are even better. I have the highest priced honey in town. At this point I don't produce enough honey to supply all their needs. They will buy from others, sometimes.

    Have fun!

    Tom

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Bloomington, IN, USA
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I haven't been selling honey for very long at the market. I started with soaps etc since this is only my second year, I didn't have a stockpile from last year.
    I had a good spring and started to experiment with honey at my table. I do a lot of photography so there are photos of my hives, queens etc. So they know my passion from across the aisle.
    The biggest thing for me is where my hives are located. There are other large apiaries selling at the market and I'm not trying to compete with them. But local is local and you can't get anymore local honey than mine. One of markets is 1/4 mile from my house, the other is 2 miles.
    Tell them where your hives are - they love to think the same bees that made the honey may have been in their own garden.
    Good luck!!
    As stated, smokers, veils, gloves etc are great and help draw the kiddies to the table. Where the kiddies go, so go the parents!
    DsBs.Etsy.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    573

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I went back and read your original post and it seems you just want something simple and sweet at this time. I would do 3 sizes of jars and no more makes set up easy and quick and I would put a sign out like a real estate sign that says RAW HONEY I use yellow with black letters as big as you can get. When they see the RAW HONEY it's a brake pedal moment.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Well the simple fact is I am completely green at farmers Markets, LOL! I am completely caught of guard with with all the great advise. I do need simple but yet as sophisticated looking as possible at the moment I am sure of this after reading these posts. I had simply cut out the whole possibility of doing a market this year after I was told the market was off so I am totally unprepared for it. I know with all the CCD news and everything about honeybees going on everyone is always asking me about my bees if they know I keep them. I sell a good amount of honey just by word of mouth so I really think if I can catch people eye and distract them enough they will come over. This is not a large market at all and it may not be worth it but I personally believe it will be a little hot spot because I know the king of people who shop there and if they show half the interest as other people I talk to do on their own I wont have any issues. I dont have a bunch of different products so all I can offer right now is honey, and maybe some honeycomb. Otherwise I will have to buy it from another beek I know which is possible but it wont be my product. I will definitely take the advise of having a veil, smoker, and of course my ob hive. Covering my table with a nice fabric is also a must I think and hanging to the ground to block the poor view given under the table. I will have to get a few different styles and sizes of containers. I have only sold pints and quart jars to people I know that ask for it but I will absolutely want some queen line, and bears to go with my mason jars. I could do chunk honey but I dont think anyone around here really is familiar with it. I am going to have to buy a pop up tent, that all there is to it I guess. I have no idea where to get one, so advice here is appreciated. I have figured I would need a sign of course but have not decided what to put on it. I like the RAW HONEY but I also was thinking of a sign for the ob hive that says something like, “CAN YOU FIND THE QUEEN” or something like that. I also am not going to say a thing about bringing the ob hive either, lol, I have a feeling they would freak out about it but once seeing it think its a great idea, lol! I meet the head of the market tomorrow and have already been told I can sell my honey so I'm good. I was wrong about it being all the time, its only Saturdays 9am to 3pm which I guess must have been the time I always went to this store because it was always there when I went there last summer, lol which is good for me cause other markets in the area wont work for me cause they are during the week mostly when I am at work! I obviously cant do it tomorrow but I have a week to prepair. If anyone could be nice enough to post or PM me a pic of their set up I would really appreciate it.

    Thank You all so much for your great advice, and I mean every single one of you.

    WI-Beek

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,589

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I have two suggestions.

    For quick setup / breakdown I would consider using some sort of awning that is attached to your "topper".

    I would use glass jars for the standard packaging and then possibly have a small selection of bears and Muth jars. "Ball Jars" have a nostalgic, wholesome look and feel to them as well.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  14. #14

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Consider a photo album or one of those new frames that show a slide show. Have pictures of different aspects of honey production. That might pique people's interests.
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Citrus County, Florida, United States
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    258

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    One other thing is CONSISTENCY in both product and location. Many times when I've gone to farmer's markets I note what all is available so when I need those things I can buy them there. Any location takes a little bit of time to build a consistent clientele. Offer a solid, consistent base product at a fair price and don't get frustrated or discouraged if you don't sell out quickly the first or second time. Many times it takes being in a specific spot week in and week out to start to see the sales. This is why picking your spots wisely where you sell is so important. I frequent a couple local markets and buy different things such as honey, nursery/landscaping items and tools. I've gotten to know just what I can and can't get from those little markets. Most of the people that I do buy from are there set up in the same spot...consistent, trustworthy and local. That takes time and persistence to develop.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    2,846

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    My next advise, given you are starting out from behind. Do what you can now but keep the overall plan in mind. Build on it with time and I think you will find your sales improve. Still some will buy from the guy with a few quart jars on a folding table. and many of those customers will return to buy again without the market being needed. so be reachable.

    It takes a while to get a display down just right and I am always working to improve mine. I sell writing pens and it is best to display them like they are fine jewelry. So start where you are and just improve it along the way.

    Oh, on a hot sunny day if you have a pop up. it may mean you have all the customers at a market in your shade. many will buy out of guilt. others will just become aware of you. both help. Don't be the jerk that runs non buyers off. welcome them you are still providing something they need and they will remember that. I have given away water at shows. Let children or adults set next to me to cool off or rest. I had one lady that had gotten tired just set and chat with me. An hour later her husband came along and said, my wife told me about you and this pen she was looking at. He bought that pen and two others for a total sales of over $300. Not bad for just being a nice guy. Be the nice guy. Sales is not about selling something. It is about being someone that people will buy from.

    When it comes to my pens. everyone wants one. I have never met a person that would not take one in a heart beat. The only problem is I don't give them away. they want it but will they pay for it. My job is to help them find that point that they say yes. I will pay that much for that pen. Some pay $30. some have paid $500. I have one I offer for $1700. I haven't found that customer yet but I will. and I will meet a lot of great people along the way.

    Love what you do. It comes through and is infectious. If you love your honey you will lead your customer to love your honey. I find it easiest to sell the pens I like the most. Nearly every pen I have has some story behind it being made. When a customer pick up that pen I will often tell them a bit about the story. maybe some problem it had that it got fixed. where the wood came from. the process that is required in making a glass like finish etc. Tell your customer the effort it takes to produce and harvest that honey. Share your stories. it makes good chatting material. And usually they really are interested in hearing it.

    One thing that few farmers market vendors fully realize is that their customer is often looking for that one on one with the producer experience. They like to look the maker of what they buy in the eye and decide if this is a person of character. The beekeeper setting behind a table of honey that he harvested has a big edge over the big vendor down the way and his three payed sales people. Some people are tired of the corporate profit driven market and want to buy from people that love honey not money. Take the time to say good morning like they actually care about them and not the money they will spend. Think of your time at the market as a way to find people that like honey more than you do. Why do I say more? because lets say you have honey priced at $5 a lb. you are willing to give it up for $5. they are willing to take it for $5. they like it more than you do.

    One final tip on pricing.
    Set your price on the honey. That will always stay the same. THen add any additional cost such as fancier jars times three. Why three? because

    1. you paid that much for the jar they are going to walk away with.
    2. you have to replace that jar and this time it will not be out of your pocket.
    3. helps cover the cost of pop ups, signs, table covers, market fees, your time, and the ever improvement of your marketing of your honey.

    So a $1 muth jar adds $3 to the cost of your honey. Many will argue against this times three thing. I have been doing it for many many years. and trust me you don't make money doing it that way. You make money on the sale of honey not on the packaging. but make sure you don't loose money either.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,276

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Leave your chair at home. Stay on your feet. Greet each passerby w/ a small spoon of honey or a honeybear ready to put a drop on their index finger. (where's that ducking head icon?) It's what I've done.

    Used to sell cantalopes. Anyone who tasted one bought one. They feel obligated to return the favor.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    2,846

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    Mark is dead on. I realized I was using the word set way to much even as I wrote it.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    537

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    My advice is for you to make sure that everyone understands "YOU ARE THE ACTUAL BEEKEEPER".

    where I sell there are a lot of produce re-sellers. Some sell honey some don't. Quite a few times I have had people be suprosed that I am the actual keeper. It is an important point. in you signage be sure there is some reference to you being the keeper.

    And I can tell you, most of the vendors that sell honey in addition to produce, don't have a clue about what their honey really is.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
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    650

    Default Re: I need tips for selling honey at farmers market

    I just pulled a very nice looking queen with a numbered disk on her. I guess wal mart has pop up tents but the guy at the market said he did not think they had any left. I got some excellent light honey that tastes fantastic. Everyone says its the best honey ever, better than clover honey. I dont know what it is, tastes the same every year, a fruity after taste, yummy! I was at the market for two minutes to give him my phone number and address, and he sold veggies to two people that quick. I should do good. Ive watched some videos of honey set ups, they dont look to hard to do so I should be ok. Check this market out, never knew of such a monster sized honey market could exist.

    http://youtu.be/bNxO7s9akZ0

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