This ain’t your parents’ Farmers’ Market: today’s greenmarkets have given rise to a whole new “it” girl in the Indie Retail world, serving as the perfect backdrop for emerging artists and handmade purveyors. Traditional brick & mortar shops are getting in on the fun by “bringing the outside in” with market-inspired jams, honeys, and crafts.
Across North America, farmers’ markets continue to be the ultimate purveyors of locally harvested produce and organic foods from all categories. Today, you’re also likely to find a handmade mug alongside free-trade coffee beans for the ultimate win.
Featuring everything from home decor to artisanal jewelry, farmers’ markets are becoming one-stop-shop destinations to discover unique finds in addition to fresh fruits and veggies. And we’re loving this trend!
Want to get started adding “lifestyle” wholesale merchandise to your shop or site? Get your free ticket here to ASD Market Week here.
To Market, to Market…
It seems farmers’ markets have borrowed from the same merchandising playbook as retailers who are adopting a “lifestyle” merchandising approach to their wares, such as hospital gift shops, hardware stores, drugstores, and even car wash and gas station “mini marts.”
Read on to learn more about the recent farmers’ market “retail revolution” and how it shines a spotlight on indie, handmade retailers. It might inspire you to think outside the booth and look to new, exciting products to sell beside your fruits and veggies.
We spoke to Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder and publisher of Retail Minded and co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference, about the emerging farmers’ market trend and its impact on indie retailers.
Reyhle hails from Colorado, where there are many fantastic farmers’ markets that feature a wide array of items.
So what kind of products has Reyhle spotted at her recent trips to the market?
“I am seeing more and more household items — which is a welcome addition. Beyond soaps and fragrances, I am seeing frames, novelty decor, wall art, and so much more. This has introduced a whole new category to farmers’ markets for consumers to enjoy, which I personally love! Among these items, there are handmade pouches, purses and totes, as well as various jewelry and household decor items. Collectively, these are such great additions to farmers’ markets.”
Retail Success Stories: How Adding Fashion Transformed These Hospital Gift Shops.
According to Melissa Griffiths, author of Bless This Mess fame and a regular contributor to the online publication Hobby Farms, vendors can set themselves apart and expand their customer base by going beyond their regular merchandise. It also allows them to sell merchandise during the off-season, which is especially important if the market is open year-round.
Those vendors looking to sell handmade items at a farmers’ market booth should consider their skillset and what they already sell. Griffiths explains more in her article, 8 Homemade Items You Can Sell at the Farmers’ Market:
“Do you already raise bees and have a surplus of beeswax just waiting for a project? Is quilting, woodcarving or needlework a skill you already possess? Maximize the skills you already have.”
Items like beeswax lip balm, aprons, quilts, and baby items might be your jam!
Or perhaps there are some resale vintage items that would fit a vendor’s niche? For instance, Miami’s Lincoln Road Farmer’s Market takes place alongside a vintage and collectibles show from October to May — so buyers can find tchotchkes and retro costume jewelry while sipping on a freshly-made kale smoothie. YAAASSS.
The Secret: Lifestyle Merchandising
In recent years, Crossover Buying — i.e., adding a lifestyle, “general store” merchandising touch to retail strategy — has become a major retail trend, and Nicole Leinbach Reyhle recommends the same lifestyle-oriented visual presentation approach for greenmarket vendors.
She explains: “Lifestyle merchandising adds a familiar touch among buyers and sellers. Customers feel connected to items they can better envision in their own lives, and this type of merchandising really caters to that. For farmers’ markets, it’s not uncommon to see vendors ‘setting the stage’ — so to speak — in an effort for them to create displays that customers can relate to. Using items from their own homes in their displays, as well, often helps to bring this to life. From tablecloths to accent chairs to potted flowers, lifestyle merchandising is a growing trend that translates to any selling environment.”
Next-Level Farmers’ Markets
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A photo posted by Marché des Éclusiers (@marche514) on
A new wave farmer’s market recently opened this summer in Montreal, Canada, a city renowned for its wide array of local and seasonal foods. The Éclusiers Market in Old Montreal (also known as the Old Port) features booths with fresh local products in a very “designy” (read: cool) setting. With farm, local, and specialty products such as American-style BBQ and ready-to-eat Lebanese food, as well as a juice bar and cafe, this market is more fab than farm.
The cafe, which features organic beans hailing from different parts of South America, also sells handmade colorful paintings from Guatemala next to its coffee kiosk.
Artisanal LA is another example of a Farmers’ Market “redefined”, with products ranging from soaps and lotions to baby clothes and summer bags. The market also features crafts, workshops, an art gallery, and a cafe.
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A photo posted by Artisanal LA (@artisanalla) on
Artisanal LA will debut a pop-up of handmade products like the chic shelves below at Las Vegas Market this summer during ASD Market Week; attendees can catch a shuttle to the market on Tuesday as part of the show’s 2ForTuesday promotion.
Farmers’ Market(ing) to “Grow” Your Business
Now that you know the where and what of farmers’ markets, you can start planning your next important step — how to let your customers know where to find you!
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle recommends:
“Incorporating hashtags into your social media efforts is always a great way to push visibility. Plus, having well staged pictures being pushed through social media helps position your brand as a leader in your local farmers’ market space. Consistency is key, though.”
Insider Tip: Create a hashtag into your social media efforts and develop an Instagram account for your Farmers’ Market. It can go a long way in showcasing the amazing products you’re selling, especially if they are unique!
When it comes to ensuring customers know about a local greenmarket, one of the most important things to consider is word-of-mouth marketing. So they need to offer quality, consistency, and variety.
According to ASAP (the guide to local food, strong farms, and healthy communities), the most important elements of a vendor’s marketing mix include print materials such as signs or banners, paid advertising, promotions at kids’ activities, workshops, or community events, and of course, social media in all of its forms.
Hosting interesting DIY workshops can be a great way to bring in a whole new audience: between painting, kids’ art & crafts, and cooking, interactive workshops make for great free weekend activities.
Farmers’ markets are considered the original direct-to-consumer retail destinations. By adding artisanal products to their assortments, vendors can attract locals and tourists alike — and offer so much more than the average shopping experience.
With this new and inspiring grassroots approach, you can expand your clientele and increase your revenue in the process!
Looking to source on-trend, high-margin fashion accessories and gifts + novelties for your shop or site? ASD Market week is a B2B trade event featuring the largest variety of consumer goods in 19+ categories. Effectively nine shows in one at your fingertips. July 31 – August 3 in Las Vegas!