Are you considering selling some of your veggies from your garden along the road this next year? Consider these 8 tips to make your stand a success and avoid any hiccups along the way. Selling produce as outlined below can be very profitable and rewarding for all the hard work you put into your garden.
1. Keep it simple to start. There is a balance here that you want to shoot for. The idea is to have enough produce to convince people to stop without making it look like the produce department at Wal-Mart. If you only have half a dozen cucumbers and 20 or so tomatoes it’s not going to be enough to make a person stop. If you are serious about making some side income from this you are going to have to plan to keep your stand stocked. Consider spreading your veggies out instead of stacking them in boxes or creates. This also keeps them from getting bruised. Remember you are a produce stand, so offer produce, not birdhouses and not local honey. If you gain an audience of followers than you can add these things in the future, but to start stick with your produce.
2. Specialize in one thing. Similar to #1 in keeping it simple is to specialize in one vegetable or one group of vegetables. Are you really good at growing tomatoes? Then concentrate your efforts on offering a large selection. Offer different verities of tomatoes as well as different sizes and different grades. Give people a selection. Some people only want a large tomato to put on their sandwich, while others are looking to buy a bunch to cook with. Offering a discount on seconds can make a bit more money on an otherwise lost product. Ever see someone selling watermelons out of the back of their truck? They are specializing. Become known for having the best “fill in your produce here” in the area.
3. Use the honor system. This is key to making your stand work. Standing out at your stand is intimidating as well as impractical if this is not your full-time job. Are you going to have some people who don’t pay? Sure. But the amount of people who will pay and feel comfortable dropping by when they pass far outweighs the few who will steal a few squash. Have a secured money deposit and make sure to advertise that you are depending on the honor system and people’s good will.
4. Make it personal, but not too personal. Don’t run out to the stand every time someone pulls in to buy something. People don’t like feeling obligated to buy because you are around. If your setup permits, have your garden within view of your stand. Regularly stock the stand and arrange things so that people do get to meet you every once in a while and see that there is a face behind the stand. Keep it short and don’t chat a lot unless they are the ones asking the questions.
5. Create excitement. Promote your stand well before you have produce that is ready. Place signs where your stand will be letting people know what you will be selling and in what month (week even, if you can be that specific). Also get permission from your neighbors (in trade for some yummy produce) to put up signs letting people know your stand is ahead.
6. Grow it yourself. If people are pulling off the road to buy from you it means they see the value in locally grown produce, and the feeling of supporting a local entrepreneur. This mood is completely killed when a person realizes that you buy the produce from some greenhouse and it wasn’t grown by you. No matter if it was grown in state, it doesn’t count in the eyes of the buyer.
7. Location is key. This goes for most storefronts and is no different for you. The more traffic the better. Make sure it is easy and safe to reach your stand as well. You can go to your state department of transportation to find the average cars that pass by your place in a day. If your property is not in a good place it is possible to find someone with good road frontage and pay them a percentage of your sales in return for the exposure.
8. Do it right. Make sure you check with your county planning commission to verify it is legal to sell produce off of your property. If need be, get any licenses associated with selling produce and set aside taxes for when you report your earnings. Never just suppose you are ok to sell veggies at the end of your drive. Any fees and hassle it takes to do your stand legally will be well worth it.