Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums
Would anyone share pics of their setup at a farmers market?
I think I'm ready to start at my local market but don't have a clue what my tent should look like.
I'm in the Philadelphia suburbs, so don't worry about me competing with you. I just need some ideas.
Other questions I have:
Can you tell I'm getting nervous. The first market is in 2 weeks.
I sell VC in freezer bags for $5. I've generally found in my searches that VC goes for about $1 lb
I put a printed label in each bag. just custom made at home, with instructions.
I would go to places that may use a lot of plastic gallon milk jugs like schools or coffeeshops (get UCG while your there ;)
If I were selling just worm products, I would try to set it up so that I am lecturing twice a day at the market. See if you can get the market to advertise that you will be talking about compost, VC, Tea, organic gardening, etc and let them know why they need to buy your product. If your just sitting there at a booth with a gallon of dirty water for sale, they are going to just walk on past.
last year, my biggest draw was to just set up a little harvesting site in front of our stall and and run VC through the trommel. People would be intrigued by what I was doing, and stop,.... AND THEN I HAD 'EM!! Explain what VC is, why it is such a great fertilizer/addition/seeding mix/etc. If they have kids (they will), get the kids to help you by pulling worms out of the VC box and put them in the worm box. By occupying the kids, the parents have to stay and talk to you. I've taken paper coffee cups, put in a handfull of bedding mix and tossed in a couple of worms and given it to children... as their first worm bin. This sets up customers to come back.
Visual things are very important at f markets. We doubled our sales by putting up pictures of what the flowers will look like when mature. Do you have compost books? You don't have to sell them, but have them out on your table and explain why you like this one, or what that author says, etc. props are very good to grab peoples attention. I bought 'Teaming with Microbes' because I saw it on the table of a vendor selling compost tea at our market. I figured if he had read it, it was probably pretty good... I was right.
Are you selling worms and bins too? you should. We are doing that this year and expect really good results because we set up the expectations last year talking about it every week. I actually concerned I may not be able to harvest worms fast enough from my wormbeds. Aint that a good worry ;)
Don't be nervous. If you like talking to people, then you'll have a great time. Unless you are in an environment where people already know and use worm products, you are setting up a new idea for people, so don't expect to be swarmed the first week. Luckily, the general attention of people is going towards the green, sustainable movement, so you getting in at the beggining of the world wide worm movement (tm).
I think I wrote some other posts here about what to bring to a market, so check those out too.
I totally agree with Don. I've only done a couple of markets and he makes some really good points:
Don makes many great points. I used funny names for the products and large signs to draw attention. I called the castings "worm poop fertilizer", tea "worm poop liquid fertilizer", "worm poop tea bags", etc. The signs draw lots of attention, even if it is someone taking a picture of me and the sign. I would also bring a bucket of worms, that has been composting for a while for people to see/buy if they wanted an established bucket. I actually found that the dirty water sitting out drew people in. People would ask what it is. I had handouts for how to raise worms. I started out having the instructions laying out for benefits and how to use tea and castings, but people would take the heck out of them. I went through 200 of each in 1 day and sold enough to cover that cost. So, I started attaching them to the tea, castings, and tea bags. All of my packaging is "green-ish". I use recycled grocery bags to hold castings, but then package in a paper bag with a label. I put out a sample of the castings though. I either use paper bags or recycled bags. I use recycled pillow cases for the worms, which helps draw attention as well. I have a supplier of used distilled water milk jugs, so I use those. I don't have to clean them out quite like milk jugs.
Sorry this isn't more organized. I am doing lots of homework, so I had to type it up quickly, but I wanted to respond. Biggest thing about setting up-be seen however you do it and make sure something about worms is on your sign/banner!
Let me know if you have any ??'s
I had my son make me a large(10'x 2'), bright yellow with green lettering vinyl sign. This has the business name as well as the 2 main selling points of the products. That is attached to the front of the tent before I hoist it up. And it does stand out! I use a demo (small) worm bin along with handouts in an acrylic holder. Put as much stuff in an upright or even eye-level position. Anything laying flat on a table is harder to read (and takes up precious table real estate).
Same as Don, I sell my compost for $5/gallon bag, instruction label on bag; My Wigglers' Brew comes in used 2-litre soda bottles (someone in the family is a soda-holic so I have a ready supply of containers). I don't usually take worms with me unless I have a customer to deliver to. I take a ready-to-go worm bin which is available for sale.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I carry a binder with pics of my worm set-up, my garden, the Soil Food Web lab report so customers can see how high my microbe numbers are, and some research results showing root growth comparisons.
As I'm reading Teaming With Microbes, I have a copy on the table . There is always a sample of the finished compost on display for customers to see, smell and touch and, of course, the all-important email sign-up sheet.
Since I have been doing a study using different percentages of compost as potting mix with 5 hot pepper plants, I take them with me, so folks can see the real difference using plain soil and worm compost in varying amounts.
Watch the people walking by. When I see someone reading the banner, I'll ask them if they are familiar with worm compost. Then I can quickly show them the tea, compost and growth of my pepper plants. I love to engage people. And that's what you have to do by starting the conversation or demonstrating the product.
A good marketing tip to remember is that prospects to your product need to encounter your business between 7-12 times before they are ready to buy.