[Market-farming] End of Season update

Steve Sando steve at mrlucky.com
Tue Nov 25 13:17:03 EST 2003


I love hearing how people did over the summer and things and tricks they
discovered. I learned a lot last year by summing up my season and got a lot
of valuable feedback so I'm doing it again, not that I don't always love a
good chat about politics!

I did 4 and sometimes even 5 markets a week and frankly I was a mess. It's
too much. My worst was a Friday morning market, follwed by a Friday evening
market, followed by a Saturday morning market. The Sunday morning market
seemed like a relief.

I have a pretty elaborate setup and I get to markets early anyway, but never
earlier than certain customers. It's always the early birds that seem to ask
a million questions with no intention of buying, slowing down the setup
process. So I bought a large piece of shade fabric (Home Depot, Garden area)
for about $14 and I clip it over the top of my EZUp, in the front. They can
look but get the message I'm not ready for them.

I'm giving up on tomatoes next year. I go to Mexico and the ends of the
earth searching for good seeds and grow them with love and care. I pack them
like crystal goblets and then they get to the market and then they are
trampled by customers who have ZERO idea how to choose a ripe one. I always
offer to help ("Do you want one you can eat right away? Do you want it to
keep until the end of the week?") but by the end of the day, my beautiful
jewels are almost salsa. I much prefer Europe where the vendor picks the
food for you. The truth is, most people have no idea what they should be
looking for. Besides, at least here in northern CA, there is a glut of
tomatoes, although no one really does it well, in my mind.

I was interviewed by a local radio station and this led to a regular stint.
I'm on every Monday morning with a Farmers Market report. Large Biz has done
to radio what it has done to farming so finding a good local station may be
hard, but it's worth looking in to, if you feel comfortable in front of the
mike. It's been the most amazing free publicity I can imagine. And the
listeners gather around my booth and talk with each other about the content
of my show- and the station as a whole. I think Jay Gee has mentioned radio
advertising before- it's very reasonable and inorder to make you happy, the
station may consider making you part of their content as well.

Liz has lots of display tips on the MF site. I've tried very hard to make a
soft "U" but in my small space, it's next to impossible and I've had to do a
hard "U" shape with the tables. But the U-shape is much better than the long
straight line I used to have. I also found I could design a poster in
Pagemaker and print it on 8.5 x 11 paper and take it to Kinkos and have it
blown up to a very large poster size for about $3.50. I hang it from my EZUP
on the outside. My remaining two markets are very crammed and I don't think
people would see my banner on top of the EZUp so I hang it inside, behind
me.

I learned last year that I would not be able to update my website during the
season. I started to collect names for an email list knowing that I could
send out an email newsletter easier than updating the website. This has
worked out but I started really looking at my website and found lots of
mistakes and changes. I have to set aside one day per month to really look
at it. I find a lot of customers check it. mostly for recipes and schedules.

All in all, I had a great year. I now have only 2 markets, on the weekends,
and hope to go after restaurants during the week.

How did you do?

Steve

Steve Sando
Rancho Gordo
New World Specialty Food: www.ranchogordo.com







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