[Market-farming] Farmer's Markets for non-food items?

Cyndi Norman cyndi at tikvah.com
Sat May 31 14:00:09 EDT 2003

I am trying to decide if it's worth my while to do some farmer's markets.
I know I'll eventually just need to try it out directly to know for sure,
but I thought I should do some research first.

I make soap and similar products.  I'll also have a bit of produce at some
point, though the focus will be the soap.  I'm in the middle of getting
organic ceritification (CCOF) for both my gardens and my soap production.

Because I am disabled I will have to pay someone to do the booth for me
(a single whiff of cigarette smoke could send me into a life-threatening
asthma attack).  I can go check them out myself because I have a respirator
mask but I can't be around for hours selling with that thing on.

I figure if I can break even then it's worth doing it because if people buy
my soap they might then take the label to their local health food or crafts
store and ask them to order it.  And it helps support the person I pay to
do it.

I don't know how much it costs to get a booth at a market around here but
of course I'll find out.  I'll also look into various fairs.  I think some
provide you with a table and others don't.


Booth fee and/or commissions to organizer
Depreciation on any equipment I need to buy, like folding tables
Salary ($12-15/hour) for one person to transport, set-up, sit/sell, and
Lossage (theft, sun damage, etc)

A bar of soap retails for about $6 (yes, they're big and homemade and
organic too).  About half of that is profit (goes towards selling costs but
also overhead of running the business; the other half is ingredients and
labor to make and package).

I live in Petaluma, Calif, which is in Southern Sonoma County (Santa Rosa
is biggest city).  This is just north of Marin County which is home to a
lot of well-off, environmentally concious consumers.  (Marin County is over
the Golden Gate bridge, just north of San Francisco.)  Organics do well
there and so do luxury items.  I think organic soap will do well, just not
sure a farmer's market is the place to sell it.

Any pointers, suggestions for things I didn't consider, or tips about local
venues are very welcome.  I'd also be interested to try it out by sharing
an existing booth (if that's allowed) or placing my product at another


Petaluma, California           Zone 9 USDA; Zone 15 Sunset Western Garden Guide
Chemically sensitive/disabled - Organic Gardening only by choice and neccessity
                                                                   Cyndi Norman
Handcrafted organic soaps & cosmetics                          cyndi at tikvah.com
Organic bedding, safety equipment                        http://www.tikvah.com/
_________________ Owner of the Immune Website & Lists http://www.immuneweb.org/

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