How To Get A Booth At The Farmers Market: Research, Registration, Permits, Payments, Making Sales & More
Your local farmers market can be a great business opportunity — as long as you know what to sell at farmers’ markets, how to apply, and how to market yourself.
As spring looms in the distance and outdoor markets begin preparing to start again, it’s a great time to start researching how to sell at a farmers market! Whether you are an established small business wanting to expand your reach or an entrepreneur looking to kick off your next great idea, this guide will help you get started with selling products at your local farmers market.
While it is a relatively simple process (grab your goods, set up a table, and bring in customers) we have some tips and strategies for you to keep in mind to improve your odds for success and increase your profitability.
From securing a booth to choosing software for selling, we’ll cover it all to help you get started on the right foot!
Table of Contents
- What Do You Need To Sell At A Farmers Market?
- How To Get A Booth At A Farmers Market In 7 Steps
- Types of Payments To Accept At Your Farmers Market Booth
- Best Mobile POS Systems For Selling At A Farmers Market
- 5 Ways To Make More Sales At The Farmers Market
- Are You Ready To Start Selling At Your Local Farmers’ Markets?
- FAQs: How To Sell At A Farmers Market
What Do You Need To Sell At A Farmers Market?
There are several essentials you need in order to begin selling at your local farmers’ markets. Keep in mind these are general recommendations, the market you are targeting could have more specific requirements, so make sure to check with them, too!
Make sure what you plan on selling is allowed at the market you are looking to join. Also, keep in mind when you apply that some markets will limit the types of booths they have if they already have an established vendor in that category.
Depending on what you’re selling, you may need to check with your state or county authorities to make sure you are following all applicable regulations and applying for a permit to sell. This is especially important to research if you are selling prepared foods or produce/raw food materials.
While some states may not require farmers market vendors to have any kind of licensing or complete any kind of registration, individual counties may. Make sure you check with the county you plan to sell in to see if there are any licenses/registrations you need to apply for and maintain in order to sell at a farmers’ market.
There are many kinds of insurance vendors at farmers’ markets can consider carrying. At the very least you should think about acquiring a General Liability Coverage insurance plan, some markets may even require it. Other kinds of insurance you may wish to consider as a vendor are:
- Product Liability Coverage: Covers product defects that cause sickness or injury.
- Business Personal Property/Inland Marine Coverage: Covers moveable items (appliances and other gadgets) over land and does not cover a building/structure.
- Damage to Premises Rented Coverage: Covers property damage caused by vendors such as fire or other accidents.
Some farmers’ markets may provide basic supplies to their vendors (like a table and two folding chairs) but others may not. If the market you are applying to sell at does not provide anything, you should consider bringing the following:
- One or more tables for displaying your products and holding other equipment/informational materials.
- Specialty containers or shelves to display your products in/on.
- A sign or banner with the name of your business.
- A sign (or several) with product names, descriptions, and prices.
- A cash box or register for collecting money. Or a mobile POS system.
- Small bills and coins to make change for customers.
- Bags or containers for purchases. We recommend purchasing cheap reusable bags so your customers can continue using them! Some states and even specific markets no longer allow single-use plastic bags to be used, so make sure to double-check before making a decision.
- A scale for weighing products if you plan to sell by weight.
- A canopy or other kind of tent to cover your booth and protect your products and customers from the weather be it rain or sun.
- A place for people to sign-up for more information about your business or your newsletter/email marketing! (How can you continue to market to the people you meet?)
Many larger farmers’ markets will have a formal application process for their potential vendors. Make sure you contact the market directly or visit their website/social media platforms to find their application and figure out when they accept applications. They could only accept them during certain times of the year, so make sure to set a reminder for yourself so you don’t miss out!
How To Get A Booth At A Farmers Market In 7 Steps
Now that you have the essentials squared away, it’s time to get a booth at your local farmers market! Whether your goal is to sell on occasion as a fun side hustle or you dream of supporting yourself solely by selling your goods to the community, there are some steps you need to take and tips you can use to ensure your success.
1. Find Farmers’ Markets In Your Area
Your first step is to figure out where to sell your product. And just like the vendors you meet, not all markets are the same. Get a good idea of the culture, people, and products at each farmers market by visiting them yourself. Keep your eyes open for markets that have a need for what you’re offering, but don’t forget to find a market that’s a good fit for you.
For example, if there are no other artists at a market and you’d feel uncomfortable selling your art there, keep searching. If you’d like to bring your four-legged friend with you, look for a dog-friendly market. You can also turn to the internet to learn more about the farmers market in your city and surrounding areas.
Get an idea of the registration process. While this process varies across markets, you need to be aware that vendor registration windows aren’t always open, and you may have to sign up weeks, months, or even longer in advance to secure a spot. You can find this information online or talk to a market manager in person to learn more about signing up as a vendor.
2. Research Local Ordinances & Health Regulations
Nothing can bring your business to a halt faster than getting shut down by the health department or local authorities. Do your research to learn about local ordinances and health regulations, such as how produce and prepared food must be stored/displayed or how baked goods have to be prepared. You will need a food handler’s permit and facilities inspections of your commercial or home kitchen if you are planning to sell prepared foods. Plan accordingly for this and make sure you have enough time before you plan to begin selling to accomplish these tasks. Laws and regulations vary, so contact your local health department to learn more.
3. Make A Business Plan
Even if selling at a farmers market feels more like a hobby than a business for you, it never hurts to create a business plan before you get started. Use this business plan to outline your goals, how you will finance your business, and your marketing strategies. If you’re panicked at the thought of a business plan that’s an inch thick, don’t be, a one-page plan is sufficient for keeping you on track.
Don’t know where to get started? Learn how to create your one-page business plan in no time.
4. Get Startup Capital & Set A Budget
While selling at a farmers market can certainly be one of the more inexpensive ways to make money from the sale of your homemade goods, there are still some expenses to consider. One of the most common expenses is a booth rental fee, some markets may even have an application fee depending on their popularity.
You need to consider other expenses, too. Think about the equipment the market is unlikely to provide for their vendors. Things like signage for your booth, tablecloths, and other items to spruce up your display, price stickers, and the cost of materials and packaging for samples.
These small expenses add up quickly, especially if you have yet to make a sale of your product. Determine if you need to get financing before you start selling, set a budget, and stick to it. Want more tips? Check out our guide, How To Start A Side Hustle.
5. Look Into Business Registration And Permits
Depending on local regulations, you may be required to register your business before you take part in a farmers market. Some markets require you to provide an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) when you register as a vendor. If an EIN is required, it’s easy to obtain one for free from the Internal Revenue Service.
Along with or in lieu of registration, some counties or states may require permits to sell products at farmers’ markets. There are many different kinds of these sorts of permits and the one you may need depends on the products you plan on selling. For example, the permit for selling frozen meat or eggs is going to be different than the permit required for selling nursery plants.
Contact the farmers market you’re interested in to learn more about the registration, licensing, and/or permit requirements for vendors.
6. Research Business Insurance
Some farmers’ markets require their vendors to have their own business insurance. Even if this isn’t a requirement, as a small business you still want to research your options to protect yourself from liability. If you’re unsure of how to get started, check out our article on general liability insurance for your business and contact your chosen farmers market to determine if insurance is a requirement. They may even be able to recommend local insurance companies that other vendors use.
7. Get Accounting Software
Even if farmers’ markets are just going to be your side hustle, you still need accounting software. Though it may seem like a pain now, you’ll thank us later. No matter how much you’re bringing in from your sales at a farmers market, it’s important to keep track of your finances. The best way to do that? Accounting software.
The good news is that there are many options available that are low-cost (including free accounting software!) and easy to use, even if you have no prior accounting experience. Tracking your finances will help you see how much money you’re making, as well as where you’re spending it. This will allow you to determine where you can make changes to increase your profits. You’ll also be glad that you kept track of your finances when it’s time to pay your taxes.
If you don’t know where to get started, take a look at some of our top accounting software choices for small businesses.
Types of Payments To Accept At Your Farmers Market Booth
Because card payments are all but standard at this point, you have probably wondered if you should accept credit or debit card payments at your farmers market booth. Unfortunately, we can’t answer that question for you, but we do have some information about different payment method logistics that you should consider before making your choice.
Best Mobile POS Systems For Selling At A Farmers Market
Mobile POS systems are ideal for selling at a farmers market because they’re portable and can process credit card payments without WiFi or connection to power. With most mobile POS systems, all you need is a phone or tablet and a pocket-sized credit card reader. To learn about more mobile credit card readers, read Looking For The Best Credit Card Reader For Small Business? Try These 8 Options.
Here are some of the best mobile POS systems for your booth at the farmers market.
Square has no monthly fee, flat-rate payment processing (2.6% + $0.10), an inexpensive chip and contactless card reader ($49). If you have an iPhone, your customers can even tap to pay, no card reader needed! No iPhone? No problem! You can still use Square to take payments on virtually any phone or tablet.
Square also has a lot of business management features, as well as mobile invoicing and EBT acceptance with the TotilPay integration. To use Square with a more robust, but still portable, credit card machine, you can use a Square Terminal ($299) with a WiFi hotspot.
Our Square POS review offers a detailed look at the free point of sale app.
SumUp also has flat-rate processing (2.75%), no monthly fee, and affordable mobile readers. With a $19 SumUp Plus reader and a phone or tablet, you can accept swiped, dipped, or tapped payments. The reader even has a PIN pad for debit payments and an OLED screen.
For a little more ($59), a SumUp Pro mobile terminal can process payments without a phone or even WiFi, the device comes with a built-in SIM card and free unlimited mobile data. SumUp doesn’t have as many features as Square and you can’t use it to accept EBT; however, it has strong core functionality as well as mobile invoicing.
Read our SumUp review for more information.
The successor to PayPal Here, PayPal Zettle is PayPal’s new mobile POS app. It has a $29 chip/tap reader with a screen and PIN pad. You can also use Zettle to accept PayPal and Venmo payments at a farmers market using QR code technology.
Zettle offers flat-rate processing at 2.29% + $0.09 per transaction and even less for QR code payments. Zettle isn’t quite as feature-rich as Square, but it could be a good pick if you already use PayPal to sell online or want to accept Venmo payments at your business. Zettle does not accept EBT but does include invoicing.
See our Zettle review for a complete look at the app and reader.
Shopify’s $9/month mobile processing plan, Shopify Lite, is ideal for merchants who already use Shopify to sell online or at their brick-and-mortar store, but it also can work for casual mobile sellers who don’t already use eCommerce or a full-fledged POS.
Use Shopify’s tap and chip reader ($49) to process payments at a rate of 2.7% (or 2.4% if you have a higher Shopify plan). The app syncs your mobile sales to your Shopify POS and Shopify eCommerce sales, and also includes mobile invoicing and Facebook selling features. You may be able to use Shopify to accept EBT, but you will have to go through an outside payment processor.
Check out our Shopify Lite review for a full look.
Clover is similar to Square and Shopify in it offers many ways to sell, with various software plans and hardware options. The best Clover devices for mobile selling, are Clover Go ($99 basic tap and chip reader that works with your phone) and Clover Flex (standalone $799 smart terminal that can run on WiFi or an LTE data plan). If you buy from Clover directly, you can use a Go or Flex with no monthly fee, and 2.6% + $0.10 processing. However, because Clover Go is so basic, we wouldn’t recommend using it unless you already use Clover Station or Clover Mini at a brick-and-mortar store. If you just want Clover for mobile selling only, we recommend using a Clover Flex (which is also EBT-enabled).
Clover is available from many different providers, but some are better than others (and some third-party providers can be outright scams). We recommend checking out our list of the best Clover merchant services providers before committing to anyone.
5 Ways To Make More Sales At The Farmers Market
Now that you know a little more about what you need to sell at a farmers market, how to get a booth, and what to use to accept payment from customers, it’s time to learn some tips to help you make more sales! A huge and expensive marketing plan isn’t needed, but there are some things you can implement to increase your profit and awareness of your small business.
Are You Ready To Start Selling At Your Local Farmers’ Markets?
Yes! You are!
You now know what to sell at a farmers market, how to sell at a farmers market, and how to be successful whether it’s your first time selling in person or your hundredth. It takes a lot of hard work and upfront expenses to sell your products and see a profit, but there are many benefits to being a vendor at farmers’ markets. With low start-up costs, personalized interaction with your customers, creative freedom, and networking opportunities, farmers’ markets are an invaluable asset to established businesses and new entrepreneurs alike.
Now that you’ve read about the ins and outs of selling at a farmers market, you can decide if making this move fits your business and personal goals. If you decide to take the plunge and get a booth, you have plenty of great resources here to help you sell your products at a farmers market. Besides your incredible product, remember that the most important thing you need in order to start selling is a way to take payments from your eager new customers!