When we started our Farmers Market we knew two things.
- We have a parking lot
- We wanted to be there to help and “man” a table
See the post on Why the church decided our ministry would be a farmers market
We had to figure out logistics: Time, Duration, Placement of Vendors, Parking, Cost, etc.
We started visiting Farmer’s Markets in the area. We kept on a lookout for when other farmers markets are…
We decided right away, no to Saturday. Too much “competition” probably not enough vendors, plus I couldn’t commit to spending every Saturday at church.
We picked Tuesdays, there seemed to be different markets on other days, but none on Tuesdays (by the way, multiple markets nearby seem less important, just that they are not on the same DAY in the same Area). Plus we rent out our church a lot and Tuesday was an “open” time.
We decided to do 3-6pm. We wanted to hit the afterwork crowd, and we are nearby the state offices that begin releasing at 3:30, and a elementary school.
The First summer we were only open June-Sept. The next year we expanded from May-October. The fall months are GREAT for veggies, the early months are better for craft vendors: people tend to buy from them only once and they aren’t spending much on food yet.
Our parking Lot is free…so our cost is minimal. We decided the first year to invest some church money, but also to promise that all the dues will go back into advertising for the Farmer’s Market to get it off of the ground.
We decided to ask $25 to hold a spot, and $100 total for the four months. Costs were purposely lower than other markets. This was good, because we soon learned that farmers spend a LOT of money to get to the market. Then we made signs, lots of signs to put up around the city. We put them up every Tuesday and then took them back down (you avoid a lot of regs that way, plus people tend to notice moving signs more).
Getting Farmers to agree to try us out was HARD. (Nowadays we can give them two weeks to try us out). We weren’t established, and no one knew anything about it. The Farmers Market circuit is a tight one. Everyone knows each other.
I and a co-chair took turns calling everyone. We would tell them our principles (we will spend your fees on advertising), our location (all the good parts), and who else we had on the line (translation, they haven’t said yes, but they might).
We visited lots of Farmers Markets, took lots of names, and called lots of people for months. I think we started in late February.
Then finally, one farmer, Farmer Jon said yes. Once we said “Farmer Jon confirmed and …..so and so and so and so are on the line” everyone else started signing up. We opened with a couple of food vendors, a couple of crafters, and three farmers (Farmer Jon never did show up…but he did his part).
We made a contract, we included the website with all of the regulations telling people they were responsible to abide by it.
We told people they had to call us if they weren’t coming.
We gave them timelines and fees
And we made them promise to realize that “This is a church” and we “expect civil behavior”
We got signatures.
Then we set up the farmers in the middle of the parking lot, staked off a walking area with cones, and got ready for the first day.
We invited the neighbor, we cut ribbons.
We papered invites on the cars who came for AA, other churches, most of the people who used the building. (We did the annoying under the windshield thing, but only ONCE for each group)
We personally dropped flyers in the local neighborhood–abiding by the mailbox rules (mostly flyers can’t go into mailboxes, I think door mailslots are the exception)
We invited the mayor and local small news stations.
200 People came for the grand opening!!!
Next post will be about the ONGOING effects and results of what started out as “just” a farmer’s market.
Our own personal Logo!!