Selling at the Farmer’s Market

I love my local farmer’s market.  It’s not that big, but there’s a lot of food, and there’s frequently live music!  They also reserve a few spots for Not Food.  This year I decided to try and sell my jewelry and wool/yarn at the farmer’s market.  I don’t really care if I don’t sell very much.  I’m aiming for greater exposure rather than stellar sales, although that would be nice!

This farmer’s market is Thursdays from 11-2 in downtown Hartford,  in the grassy courtyard of an old factory that has been turned into apartments and a community center.  The courtyard is where they have the community gardens, and it’s nice to see those raised beds full of veggies!

Most of the foot traffic is lunch traffic from the surrounding businesses.  The farmer’s market sets out picnic tables, and there are several vendors who sell prepared food, as well as a big catering truck that parks itself right outside the gates.  While I might not expect people who came to shop for food to be interested in jewelry, it’s not such a far stretch for the business people.

My first day was last week (I’m set up for about every other week), but I ended up running late because DH had made an orthodontist appointment for that morning, and he ended up getting home about 5 minutes before it opened.  I’m only about 10 minutes away, but this was not how I’d wanted to start!  Fortunately this wasn’t a huge deal – I was not the only one setting up late.  I can’t wait for my son to graduate so he can come help me set up and break down – schlepping all my stuff from the parking lot to my spot on the other side of the courtyards seemed to take forever!

 My setup usually looks much nicer than this!  Unfortunately Elaine (my business partner) has our table coverings, and I’d forgotten to take one home with me when we did our annual Big Show at the beginning of May.  Of course since table coverings are usually something I don’t have to think about, it didn’t occur to me until the night before that I didn’t have one!  In a truly sad act of desperation, I used the green polar fleece blanket we keep on our sofa.  It was a better choice than the Dora blanket.  Next time I will find something nicer, with better coverage.  At a normal craft show we would have more jewelry, because Elaine’s would be out as well, and two additional small tables.  And no yarn, of course.  I think it came out OK, but Elaine is much better at figuring out where everything should go than I am.  I’ll just have to continue to tweak things.

I ended up next to a booth run by a pair of elderly women from Bosnia, who sell knitted and crocheted items.   I’d brought my spinning wheel, and they both seemed to get a kick out of it 🙂  Their English wasn’t great, but they communicated their approval easily enough.  One of them stood watching me spin for quite a while, and eventually asked how much my wheel had cost (about $600 12 years ago), and seemed to think it was a reasonable price.

The spinning wheel got a lot of attention, as I had hoped it would!  I got a lot of people asking questions about the wool and yarn, so that was gratifying.  I had many nice conversations with people – one of whom was telling me about her sister-in-law, who raises Shetland sheep in Vermont.  As she was describing the operation, it occurred to me that I had heard this story before – her sister-in-law had done a program on Shetland sheep for the Nutmeg Spinner’s Guild, when I was still an active member!  Small world!  A few people with kids stopped for a bit so their kids could watch the spinning.  Several people wanted to know if I was going to be there next/every week, which I take as a good sign! 

I only sold one small piece, and that was to one of the other vendors.  I hadn’t expected to sell anything at all my first day, so this was a plus!  It covered my booth fee, which is the important thing.  After all, most people don’t go to a small farmer’s market like this expecting to find jewelry and craft supplies.  I’ll need to be there more regularly, then people will expect me to be there and bring money.  I even had a couple people write down what dates I’d be there next!  I know other people’s plans rarely pan out in my favor, but if they’re interested enough to write the info down it shows that there’s enough interest for it to be worth it to me to continue to show up.

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3 thoughts on “Selling at the Farmer’s Market

  1. A fantastic idea to bring the spinning wheel! I don't wear jewelry, but your stuff is really pretty and I would probably be sucked right in anyway! I hope you get lots of “suck-ins” this summer at the market LOL!

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  2. I hope so too! Especially with the yarn/wool – it'll help me get a feel for what people are looking for. Eventually I'll set up a second Etsy shop for the fibery stuff. I'm holding off on that for now while I build up more stock.

    I really did have a great time, and the booth fee is very low, so I'd continue to do it even if I didn't sell anything.

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