I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs and now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmer's markets, online, or wholesale onto store shelves, food business success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump.
Hey there, welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This podcast I am so looking forward to it you have no idea. I am going to be wearing a couple of hats here. I am going to be both the podcast host and also going back and forth about wearing my farmers market manager hat and owner hat. And I'm going to be talking with an awesome guest with Nicole Jarman. And she is also owns a farmers market. And so this is your opportunity, opportunity to get a little peek behind the curtain. And to get some great tips and tricks about being more successful at a farmers market. Especially during COVID. Like it is possible for you to have a great season whether you're in a winter season or a summer season or year round. I love farmers markets. I love talking about farmers markets. I own a farmers market. It's such a great place for both people to like some people want to build a long term business out of working in a farmers market and then I have a lot of people who want to start there as a place to experiment and get market feedback and test and then launch their product into other sales channels. So welcome and this is going to be such a fun episode. I can't wait for you to listen. So many great gems here. I also thought it would be fun to have this over on YouTube so you can see Nicole and I having this conversation and we'll also add some photos of both of our farmers markets and some of these concepts and ideas and tips and tricks that we're talking about so you can see those visually. So if you want to go check that out you can go to the Food Business Success YouTube channel, and watch us over there and I want you to get signed up for my masterclass. I have a farmers market masterclass already, and I'm going to update it so on March 24 sorry, on February 24. I'm gonna go live and you can get registered for this updated Farmers Market Masterclass over at FoodBizSuccess.com/masterclass2021. And the link will be down in the show notes of course. So please go and get registered for that if you are thinking about starting at a farmers market this season or if you're already at a farmers market, this is going to be really, really helpful for you as well. So I invite you to get signed up for that. And on to the interview.
I am so excited to welcome Nicole German onto the podcast today. And Nicole is with she's co founder of Hob Nob events. And Nicole has been managing the South Pearl Street farmers market in Denver for 15 of its 19 years. And I believe that it is it's got to be the largest farmers market in Denver, but I'll let her speak to that. But she has striving to support and enhance the local community by providing a farmers market experience where a great variety of fresh and wholesome products can be found. So 15 years. Is it the largest one? Welcome Nicole, by the way.
Nicole Jarman 4:21
Hi, thank you. I'm so excited to be here. I we've got to be pretty close to the largest kind of vendor number wise. When we in 2007 when I took the market over it was 25 vendors and we're 130 vendors now. So.
That's amazing. Yeah, I think it's I definitely think- I go to a lot of farmers market. I think it's probably the largest. And then I'm going to be wearing like I said two hats where I'm the podcast host but also I am a market manager. I own a winter farmer's market called the Fort Collins Winter Farmers Market. Original name there. So we're an indoor farmers market. And we're the only market. It's a true farmers market in Colorado. And we're the only one so it's been there. This is the 15th or 14th year. I think I've been involved with it for five and an owner for two. So that's a little bit of my background with farmers market. So I was telling Nicole, I want this to be like a peek behind the curtain a little bit like, we were saying, like, how much advice do vendors really want from us? Like for us to like, be like, Hey, you know, you could do this or could do that. But this is our opportunity to just share our advice, what we see, how we see people being more successful, and just to share, like, what's going on with COVID and, and some of those practicalities. But consider this unsolicited advice from two market managers here. So how did you actually get like it because you're in a van company. So did somebody approach you and say, Hey!
Nicole Jarman 6:13
Well, and I wasn't an event company when I started running the Pearl Street farmers market, I owned a local attractions TV channel. So when you used to go to hotels, check in when you check in your room, the TV station that came up and said while you're here, go eat dinner at Applebee's grill and go to Red Rock.
Oh gotcha. Okay.
Nicole Jarman 6:32
So I, I had taken that channel over from from someone and I was pitching the channel to South Pearl Street. And they said, We should definitely be on your channel. We've got this great farmers market. And they wanted to start a music festival and had all these ideas. And so I'm like, I live in the neighborhood if you want committee members call me and they called a week later that actually we need a market manager. So I came into running the farmers market with I'd had some previous event experience. So I came in with event experience but not experienced in the the food agriculture farmers market world. So there was a big learning curve for me when I came in.
Yeah, I'm sure.
Nicole Jarman 7:15
And the first was, yeah.
You'd never run a farmers market.
Nicole Jarman 7:20
Yeah, you just, I think really understanding. I think when you I for me, when I think farms, and I think the world of agriculture, you think of salt of the earth, people and like really honest and really like true expressions. And I, I really, I spent a number of years breaking down what we were trying to achieve at the farmers market, and this, this whole conversation of local food and locally grown and what is what is local, local? You know, a certain amount of mile? Is it the state of Colorado is that? You know, what's it? Is it the closest surrounding area that that an item can be grown? So there was a huge learning experience for me to just dive in to that and what we were trying to offer people
Oh, yeah, now you're crushing it. Yeah, like we have an Alaskan fish vendor in our market, right Kaleb's Katch. He's amazing. And he like is part owner of the boat and music but like, obviously, not within a 400 mile radius but we're not getting halibut in Colorado, so.
Nicole Jarman 8:35
Right. And I have gotten to a point where I think it's about being able to ask the questions of the producer, and really understanding what you're consuming as a food product. So that you get closer with your food.
Yeah, so obviously farmers markets are made up of multiple, you know, typically I put them in categories of farmer or rancher, like raw produce meat, eggs, and then craft, kind of all the non-food and then of course, my audience is all about packaged food. So that's definitely what we're gonna focus on today But, so, for me, COVID hit as we had, I think, I think we had two more markets, two or three more markets. And I was in like, I was in a winter market. So it was all happening, live. And I was like, on the phone with the health department, and they were like, no, no, proceed as normal. And then it was like March 13 or something, right? That weekend was supposed to be a market and literally on Friday, they said nope, everything shut down. So and then it was like well do now what's gonna happen? So, long story short, we ended up canceling the last you know, three three markets of my season. And then that was March and then a couple months kind of passed. So what were you what was going on in your world? Because you are gearing up for a May, I mean, market, your usual market.
Nicole Jarman 10:16
Right. Right. So we pretty quickly got on the phone with vendors and did a Zoom call and said, like, what's going on with everybody? Like, how do you feel? What are your concerns? What's happening in your world to just kind of try that and say, we don't know what this is gonna look like but we're working towards figuring it out. So I think, because I think what I really learned throughout this is communication is key, like people just, they just want to, like, know that you're thinking about it, or they know that you're still there. They just want like that touch point. So we, we talked with vendors and said, you know, we first we started with, okay, well, we don't know if the markets, you know, we open mid May we have been working in Mother's Day weekend, we were supposed to have a mother's day last year, we pushed back a week because of COVID. But, um, so we said, we're gonna hope to still open. We don't know, in the meantime, what can we do? So we started preparing the lists to, you know, send all our databases and say, this is where you get these products, we support your local vendors, you know, support small businesses, and then we started an online market that we ran until, well we ran through the season, actually, but the idea was that we run just until the market started. So we really just tried to understand, like, what's everybody experiencing? And at first, all the vendors, it felt like there was this, this, this fear and this concern, and we can no longer, you know, what's happened with our distribution to restaurants? And then very quickly, a lot of my vendors had their best years ever because people really did become a lot more conscious of who they were purchasing their food from, and where they were getting their food. And I think, you know, that desire to like, we've been on that trajectory to support local. But I do think that COVID really made people think like, Oh, my gosh, how do we keep these small businesses alive?
100% and they are that was kind of the, you know, the next question is, like, how did COVID affect people's purchasing? And I saw that, too. I mean, not, you know, I my market ended, but then I was shopping and kind of observing and, and it does, it did seem like there, I mean, grocery stores were like, running out of product. Meat supplies were low. And I know, like, ranchers and produce and, and and even value added right got kind of like people like yes, I want to know, I want to support loca. It was that double whammy and like I want to support local and you have food that I need.
Nicole Jarman 12:50
Right, right, you actually have eggs in the grocery store doesn't.
So yeah, I would imagine that a lot of people had really great seasons, even though we were all in this stage of like, I have no idea. Like none of us knew what was going to happen. I'm like, Oh, yeah, we'll be open by June like, you know. This will all be done.
Nicole Jarman 13:11
Right? Right. I mean, we have we have live music at the market. And we were like, we'll just cancel music through June and then you by July we'll probably have it back. And I was like, no, no live music happening this year. But you know, it was with the market because we had to limit the number of people that came into the market and we had a, you know, had entrances and exits. We didn't know what that was going to look like or how that was going to affect sales. And there was this part of us that said, it might be better because then people who are coming are really there to shop. They're really committing to shop. They'll purchase as opposed to kind of the social Sunday morning, which we love. Yeah, come right. Eat, drink, walk around. But like the people who are coming like live, they're making a commitment. They're standing in line. They're waiting. They're following traffic flow. And so thats
Yeah, cuz you guys really locked down like, I know when I went to that market a couple times. Like you have to wait in line. It was all roped off. I mean, you guys went really, really like 100%. Like,
Nicole Jarman 14:20
Thank you. We tried. We tried. We still? Yeah.
Were you taking reservations?
Nicole Jarman 14:26
Health department still came in and gave us a hard time. No, I thought about doing reservations.
I know Boulder county was doing that.
Nicole Jarman 14:31
Nope. But we didn't. We didn't do reservations. Um, and I. Yeah, I don't know. I'm glad we didn't do reservations. I think that may be hindered a little bit of traffic. That Yeah.
So you still saw pretty good numbers, but obviously I didn't space things out but I do think people were buying more like and and they had to buy things. So one thing that COVID had obviously, so we had to space everybody out six feet, you know, at least get everybody spaced out. You had traffic flow, you had everything roped off. And and then sampling went away as well which of course for like your value added food, that's a huge piece of how you get people over there. But I saw what I saw. And I don't know if you saw this as people being much more willing to just obviously buy untasted right? Like, either like I'm going to support the people I already know or like, Oh, it's seaweed Joe. Okay, sure. Like, I'll try it. You know, cuz I was wondering your vendors? And I remember like, yeah, and they did give me a little ramekin that was sealed, you know, so that I could go and try it later. So I think that's a great idea for sampling.
Nicole Jarman 15:51
Some people got really creative, like, get a hot sauce vendor who like had them on like the little, you know, inch by inch packages so that they would hand them out to people. But I did, I did have a handful of vendors say like thank goodness, I don't have to sample like it's so great. And I do think i think it probably depends a little bit on the the price point or how familiar people were with the vendor.
Nicole Jarman 16:18
You know, so if it's a vendor who had been there for years, I think it went as well. But yeah, most people took I felt like we're willing to take chances on products.
I agree. And they were just like, yep, I'm in like, give me three of them.
Nicole Jarman 16:31
I want to support you.
Right. So I have actually, some of my, some of my wine vendor said that actually, you know, and that's a big, you know, and that's one thing to taste olive oil. It's another thing to taste wine. I mean, people just yeah, so I think and you, you alluded to this question coming up, but I think it's whether you are a business that samples or not, it's so much about your presentation. I mean, your presentation of your booth, your presentation of your product, your presentation of you.
Oh my gosh, yes. We are gonna dive into that for sure. The last thing I want to say about COVID? Because well, two things. So obviously, like, what do you expect for this season coming up? Pretty much the same?
Nicole Jarman 17:14
Pretty much the same. I'm hoping we can have some, we can add some tables and have some onset eating, if you're sitting. You know, are ready to eat food was all packaged to go. I'm hoping maybe we can have some music back. But I think you know, as for spacing, and entrances and exits, and monitoring traffic flow and the number of people and I think it's gonna look the same.
Yeah. And the other thing I wanted to say, I'm going to try to make this sound really positive, because I know that everyone, everyone was affected by COVID of course. Like every every vendor, every business owner, and everybody has had to pay a cost, literally a financial cost because of COVID. And I guess I just want to remind people, vendors listening, like, vendors are not the only one that was impacted financially by COVID. And I know for me, and I'm sure for you, like I had to hire, I actually had to hire two additional staff. I they have worked longer hours, more hours, there has been additional materials, obviously all the like shields and sign it we've had to invest so much more in signage.
Nicole Jarman 18:32
So much so many signs.
Yeah. And just a lot more obviously time involved in coordination and figuring things out and communication. So I just want to remind people with, you know, vendors, when they're, like upset about fees, like what are my market fees going towards? And, you know, maybe if you had to do a price increase, or something we did have to raise, we rose our percentage of sales by 1% for for our craft and our our value added. We were pretty low, but just we've had to cover those costs, you know, and it's been like I'm all in and I'll do it and we were actually able to get a small grant that has helped a ton that was specifically for COVID. But yeah, like it doesn't stop at the vendor. So just something to consider for people listening that like we were all affected too as managers, and I'm sure you had a lot more staff involved.
Nicole Jarman 19:37
Yeah, I mean, we estimated our increased costs about $10,000 for everything that we did for COVID. Plus some other things we had to tackle we you know, with the health department show up but some vendors not wearing masks and we incur those citations and fees and things that go with it. So yeah, yeah. You take these the market manager, you take the the risk, and really the onus for everybody doing things correctly.
And that's why when my staff or myself have to get, you know, because we're in the we were in the winter, and of course over November and December and things were like, like inching back and then went to red. And we like, we actually ended up having to space people out eight feet, 10 feet in some cases, because the health department came in and said, it's not enough. And then people weren't wearing their masks correctly. And we were like, hey, got, you know, you need to wear your mask.
Yeah. Yeah. And maybe one guy actually, like, totally one vendor blew up on one of my staff members, and she called me and was upset. And I said, He's out! Like, no. We have zero tolerance. For you can't wear your mask correctly, and then you're gonna get upset at us for telling you like? We will get shut down or incur fines from the health department. Like there's I have 70 vendors at mine, which is a lot for an inside.
Nicole Jarman 21:06
Oh, that's a lot.
So you know what you want to take away? 70 vendors potential sales, because you can wear your mask? So that's my little rant.I will try not to go down the rant.
Nicole Jarman 21:20
Yeah, yeah. I'm right there with you.
Anyway, and then I was curious, did you have new vendors like new packaged food people like brand new businesses come on? Or do you accept people throughout the season? Or was it kind of like, flat? Like?
Nicole Jarman 21:34
No, we accept, we accept people throughout the season, we don't have a ton of room to grow, but we do accept throughout. So we have people join throughout. And then we also, we don't do a lot of crafts anyway.
Nicole Jarman 21:54
But we do kind of kitchen focused items. So you know, if you're a knife sharpener or a knife or maybe aprons, you don't have a you know, if there's something that relates to the kitchen.
And you have like body products too.
We have body products too. And when we have the merchants from South Pearl Street have the ability to set up a booth. So that's kind of where our non kind of non-food body products come from. But but we had a couple, anybody craft related we, we it took us about a month until we let them in, because that was what how I understood health department regulations was.
Exactly, yeah. And just to be clear, yeah, a farmers market was declared an essential business. I know, I've gotten some heat from community, few people like on Facebook saying, you know, why can't believe you're holding a market and doors, it's COVID. And it's like, No, no, like, go to the grocery store, go to the grocery store like this is actually spaced out way more than a grocery aisle. And we're supporting local businesses. This is food. And we told you know, we did allow craft vendors in but we told them, like, if we you know, if it goes back to the way it was in June or July, like where it was like essential business, like sorry, we have to take you out, but we haven't had to do that. So yeah, but just to be clear with people, farmers markets are essential businesses, and they are a great way to support local businesses. And so. Alright, enough on that. So let's talk about ways like our little three to five will kind of go back and forth ways that producers can really be successful, stand out, like everything, like from the start all the way through the actual markets. Closing up, all of that, like, so. I'll let you I'll let you start. And you can just any of your top three. What do you think? What's what's your number one way that a producer can be successful?
Nicole Jarman 24:04
Your oh my gosh, I mean, stand up and smile.
Even when you're wearing a mask. People can tell.
Even when you're wearing a mask. You can see it in your eyes, even when you're wearing a mask. Yeah, yes. Yes. Just just help people feel like you want them to come up to your booth and you want to talk to them and you want to share what you have. Yeah. Because it's an I it's so funny, because I very rarely have been on the other side and I've spent 15 years producing farmers markets. It's been a very rare occasion that I have sat on the in the booth or on the vendor side. And then it's a long day to stand and to smile and to not look at your phone but it makes all the difference in the world.
It does. Yeah, that phone I mean, I walk by and I observe a lot, you know, whether it's my own market or a summer market and I walked by and I kind of watch people and yeah, they're, they're on their phone head down sitting in there. Like, I saw a guy that had like one of those camp chairs, you know, that are like really low and like, reclining. Yeah, I'm like, dude!
Nicole Jarman 25:25
You know, the I feel like because it's a it is a long day, you know, a bar stool or something tall so you can like, yeah, you know rest.
Yeah, they have those foldable. So in my I have a course called farmer's market jumpstart course, and which I should tell you about and give you like a link to share with me, right? I have, I have all my favorite things like Sari's favorite things for markets. And one of them is like one of those folding and it folds. So it's nice and compact, but it's a folding barstool, that gets you up higher. And so you can kind of be resting, resting your butt on the stool, but you still look like you're engaged and standing and not in like a recliner.
Nicole Jarman 26:08
Yeah, yeah. It's a lot different than like the reclined.
Because a couple of these, because I'll tie into that around signage and pricing. So I think it's important for vendors to remember that, like, so I have been on the other side, I actually used to work at a farm work for a farm. And so I would help with farmers markets, and I've done, you know, Whole Foods and whatnot. I mean, I've been behind the other side. And yeah, I totally get it like wear comfy shoes. Have layers. I mean, I have a whole kit, event kit, ideas that you need to bring, but it's like, you have to remember that as a vendor, like you're there all day. But you're, you're not there for you, you're there for your customers, and you need to make it as comfortable and easy as possible. As human beings, I don't think that we love approaching people, right? It's, it's a little bit scary. And we do not definitely do not like asking how much something is like, it's very uncomfortable for customers to do that. So I always say do not put your customers in the position of having to ask how much anything is. Make your pricing big, bold. Again, I have like links to chalkboards or like larger signage but make it simple. Don't have it be like, you know, 18 different packages, like pricing combinations. Like have the pricing, add the individual products if you have a lot, but make the pricing really, really easy to understand. Because the customer does not want to ask you. They will they will walk away most likely before they have to ask you how much something is. So definitely, one of mine like money's always a little bit awkward. And so just make it super easy for people. And, and yeah, having that great energy of like, I'm smiling, I'm happy. I'm happy to be here, even if you're not. Evenwhen your feet hurt, right? But like, but you're here to get people to come to you. And so putting out great energy.
Nicole Jarman 28:30
And I think there's an interesting medium to that, because there are the people who I think it's the minority of people that like are really outgoing and want to call people over and I think there's a fine line. You want to be invited, but you don't want to feel pressure to go. So I think that
Yeah, I don't like people cattle calling me like Hey, you! Get over here!
Nicole Jarman 28:56
Yeah. It's in our regulations that there's you know that you can't do that or you can't see outside your booth and hand things out. Because I think it makes people uncomfortable.
Yeah, there is that balance for sure. All right, what's another one you have?
Nicole Jarman 29:13
Oh, I mean, so you talk about the person then check out the booth. I mean, you think about that, that beautiful package or sign or like the one to do it. Like, go crafty like you think of like the who the vendor where it just feels good. Like just, I mean, really putting an effort into like, what's your space looks like?
What about the one I love at your market. I think they're still there is Patter Bar is a good example.
Nicole Jarman 29:43
Yes, yes. Just like the really clean, beautiful package. Rebel bread, just like that spread of like beautiful loaves of rye and sourdough bread and new things beautiful croissants. But it's just, you know, and it just it looks fresh and
It looks full right? You want it to look abundant and like there's like one and I know COVID there's some issues there right but like maybe need screens up or you know but still like how can you create it something looking abundant. And what I love about Patter Bar because I'll kind of expand on that a little bit is they have that table that they custom made and then they have they have three bars least at the time and then they had like dips in the table and then they had like the ingredients in the bars. Right? And so I love that I love like yeah, you can't sample but you know I have a seasoning guy and he's client and works at some markets and I told him I was like you need to put like at least pour the seasonings into a bowl. Like not that people are tasting it or getting up close but people can see the product they can see the different ingredients. So if you have lemon and ginger like buy a lemon buy a thing of ginger and put it out because it does feel like now we get a sense, like we're it's beyond the package. Like oh that's so cool.
Nicole Jarman 31:14
Right right it's like but it's like real food. This is again this is what I'm consuming this is what I'm like right it brings you closer to your, your food.
Nicole Jarman 31:26
And we'll put up which is a picture of Patter Bar and some of these other ideas but you know they have a really nice backdrop their tents clean. I mean if you have a janky tent that's
Nicole Jarman 31:41
that's dirty dirty
and like sagging down.
Nicole Jarman 31:46
Pull down the corners because that top you know once you once you push the tent off you gotta like pull down the corner so that the tents Yeah, I mean, because if you care about your appearance then you care about what you, the product that you've produced.
We, we're making really quick judgments as customers to say like do I want to go over there? And yeah, somebody's smiling, somebody's looking at me not on their phone being really welcoming and then your booth looks great and clean and it is. It's a first impression of like do I am I even interested in this product? Yeah, so you know if you don't have a tablecloth I mean I know a guy my market doesn't have a tablecloth. I'm like you have to have a tablecloth. Like this looks terrible like your dirty table. You know and cottage food producers for instance, like that is the whole reason why they can only do direct to consumers because I as a customer need to you we need to work out a trust level. Like I trust your product that you're making in your home kitchen right? Because I can talk to you I can ask you questions and we can build some level of trust. And your booth is like first impression
Nicole Jarman 33:02
It's what your kitchens like.
Unknown Speaker 33:04
Nicole Jarman 33:06
That your cats not walking around on the counter while you're cooking food
Exactly. So care in your appearance. Care in your your attitude, your energy. Care in your booth so so important. A little rant This is like a little pet peeve of mine but I really prefer people to get white tents. I find that orange tents, blue tents they actually make your food look not great. Like they color you in a weird way as a human. Like and they color your food so it's just a little note.
Nicole Jarman 33:44
Yeah yeah. I agree with that.
Just little details that people don't, they're like oh the the blue tents $20 cheaper and I'm like no. And get a nice tan if you're outside it's gonna last you the whole season. Get a nice get a nicer tent.
Nicole Jarman 34:02
It's gonna rain at some point it's gonna be windy you needed to hold through those things.
You need it to hold up and those like and you gotta wait to roll it out and take it you know multiple markets Yeah, like you need a goog quality tent.
Nicole Jarman 34:15
Weight your tent.
Weight it, yes.
Nicole Jarman 34:18
Just just the weights on it you never know. You don't want to be the tent going down the street just weight it. Just weight it. I'm sure you have in your tips and tricks like all the different things you can use
Yeah, wait no I have links to like here's the weights. Here's the easy ones. I mean, I know people make their own whatever but like here's the one here's the link like all the Amazon things.
Nicole Jarman 34:40
I like the the white tubes that you fill with water sand that are just the clean and symmetrical and long and clean keep it less cluttered.
Yeah, I love it. Um Oh and I guess we should say you know if you do have staff if you're not the only one are you you are you have staff working your booth communicate your standards about not sitting, smiling all of those things, right? Cuz maybe we have those experts, you know, expectations of ourselves, but then if we don't communicate them to our staff then and I find that staff are usually the ones that are the ones on their phones and yeah, yes, not fully invested as you might be if you're the owner. So, um, what about like, Oh, yeah, what else do you want to talk about? I had kind of a list I gave you and ideas.
Nicole Jarman 35:32
You know, this is not necessarily success in selling, but just and being a successful vendor. I think, you know, we notice there's, you know, six weeks into the market or so, vendors are kind of doing this reevaluation, am I successful? I want to be like, what can I do to tweak? What can I do to, to do more, which, which is great. I think making sure that, that you communicate with us if you're wanting to change or add something, and then I think just being super aware of, especially when you're working with food, anything that might from a permitting side of things, how that how that might tweak things, you know, we certainly, two years ago, had a vendor who had a stable packaged item that didn't need temporary restaurant licensing decide they wanted to when you could sample that they were going to sample with cream cheese, I think. You know, got a citation because cream cheese is not stable, and they they don't get the citation, we get the citation. Yeah, so I think just, it seems like no big deal. We'll just try this other thing. But I think just being really I mean, it's back to that communication piece. If nothing else communicating with us. And we'll help you wade through permitting and health department stuff.
Yeah. Yeah. It's so good. And actually, I want to talk about application next anyway. But I'm curious, what do you what system do you use for applicants when they apply?
Nicole Jarman 37:09
Oh, we just changed.
Nicole Jarman 37:11
We've been a Yeah, I'm actually really excited. So we've been on, we've been on, you know, you apply via formstack. And then you, you pay an application fee via PayPal, but then I think we send you your invoice via Square, and it was, and Formstack was great. It was kind of anyway, we just I like three days before we launched Farmers Market applications, I found this, an event producer had created this software called it's called astronaut industry. But it sets up. It's, it's, it's beautiful. So anyway, I'm in the application sort of thing. But for us, we tag everybody. So everybody can get a different communication based on if you're a 10 by 20, or you're a farmer, you have a different thing that goes into place. And we just move, you know, to accepted lists. And so we've just switched. So I think it's gonna be amazing.
Oh, that's awesome. We use a farmers market, it's called market manage my market. So it's actually for farmers markets. Yeah. So. So similar thing. I mean, there's some, some little things that I wish I could change, but overall compared to what it could be of managing Google Forms, and PayPal and stuff. So it automates everything. But I mean, I guess I would say with applications, like first of all be really thorough, and especially with your products, like what products are you planning on selling? Because like you said, so I can speak to Colorado, and then certainly other places, but I'll just kind of give people a quick overview. And most states I'm sure are fairly similar, even if the the specific terminology might be a little bit different. But yeah, there's cottage food, which means it's, you know, shelf stable. It's not potentially hazardous. And there's a limited number of products that you can do under cottage food where you're making it at home. There is just a wholesale license which which will cover you for not potentially hazardous foods. So shelf stable things like baked goods or so this is now you're in a commercial kitchen. But pickles are certain sauce, you know, barbecue sauces, as long as they're all made, you know, commercially that you can get away with that license. But yeah, when you start getting into ice, is a big one. Or like if you add ice to something, you are like in a totally different license zone. But then, like you said, dairy cream cheese, any kind of milk product. Meats is like a whole other thing. So yeah, like if you were doing something with meat, so you do want to be very thorough in your application about what products you're gonna serve and Is it ready to eat? Is it prepackaged? And then yeah, just give us all the information and then make sure you're checking your email, I don't know about you, but I can't believe how many people do not read the emails we send. And then oftentimes, I don't know if you guys do this, but we do like an early bird application. And then we, we take applications year round or all season long, but we kind of say this is the the period of early bird closes. And then we do offer a pay in full discount for those vendors. So as a you know, as a, as a vendor, just keep, you know, make sure you check in your email, and that you take advantage of those things. And then you get your license, like your certificate of insurance in. Again, it takes time on our part to go and Hound you down for those things, or we have to be the bad guy and be like, Hey, sorry, you can't set up today because you don't have your license in so or your
Nicole Jarman 41:04
Which, which we don't love, because then it affects the flow of the market infects the look of the market and affects, you know, how, like how we do on that day. You know, and kind of back to my communication piece. We, we implemented a $10 when you apply fee, because we wanted to make sure when people were applying, they were really serious. As opposed to and not that 10 hours is so much money that like it would break some you know, I mean, the goal wasn't for it, we just wanted people to think really hard. I didn't want someone. Yeah, it's great. If you're thinking about that, and you're and you're sitting there midnight, looking at applications, but like, if you fill out an application, we seriously evaluate you. And we might deny somebody else because we've accepted you. So if you thought you wanted to start this business and decide you don't want to or got accepted to another market or decided you can't do 15 markets, you're only gonna do five. And we're not one of them, just like that communication piece, because we go through that a lot and that, you know, we spend time and we'll get 300 applications. So we spend a lot of time comparing and going through and making sure that there's not too much of one thing, and then all of a sudden, you deny someone and you accept someone else, and that someone else is like oh, yeah, like hey, yeah, whatever. So just about communication, just tell us just tell us if you've decided you're not interested in our market, or you don't have the bandwidth, or whatever it is, yeah.
So we actually have a $50 application fee. I mean, we have to pay for the software, and we get charged per per application. And it's also somebody's time to go through and review all of those and build the spreadsheet. And then I'm assuming I'm guessing a lot of markets do this where they limit, like we allow to kombucha and we allow so many coffee and you know, XYZ right? Whatever your category is, so yeah, so we have to like say, Oh, well, they've been at the market before and they they're brand new and they sign up for all booths throughout the whole season versus just a couple and so there's all this weighing and prioritizing and it takes a lot of time to go through these applications. So.
Nicole Jarman 43:26
So then Okay, so then you you go through all of that time and then you get to the market season and for us, and first of all, again, as much information application as possible if you really really need to be on one side of the street or your product is really really affected, you need to let us know let us know but also, we're outside so you got to be able to plan for being outside. Not you know, not everybody can be in the shade right? Mine is always I get to I get to opening day and I've spent you know we have 130 vendors and when I go through it I look at you know we only have electricity in some places, so who needs electricity? You know what farmers need their van where people historically been and then I think really hard about a flavor palette so you know I try really hard not to put like chocolate next to horseradish or you know I tried to do like a red wine pasta cheese olive oil like so it all
And you know, you don't put two kombuchas next to each other next to each other yeah coffees next to each other. Yeah, you're spacing things out always.
Nicole Jarman 44:32
You know that opening day someone's like, I don't want to be here. And it's like well first of all. You know?
I think well you gotta just dive into my thing about this is a mistake. This is I got these these are the mistakes that I one of my biggest mistake I see people make, in life, but also with the market is like they establish themselves as the complainer, right? Oh the get go. And like, immediately they come up and tell you how they're unhappy with their booth, they're unhappy with this, they're frustrated, right? And you're like, do you know how long? How many hours I have put into this map? And sometimes it is my mistake and I'm like, oh, sorry, I put two CBD people next to each other the other day. And I was like, Oh, that is totally my bad. Let me try to fix it like, so sorry. But the way you approach your market, like we are human beings, and we're a staff, and just remember that we're all humans. Come up and be really kind if you're, if there's some big problem. But I mean, unfortunately, especially in my market, we're in inside a mall. So we're in the Foothills mall where it has hallways like big hallways, and then we also have been using some storefronts that are empty. And somebody has to go in the storefront. It just, I have 70 spots and 70 vendors. So I'm sorry. I know you would prefer a different spot, but somebody has to go in there. And, you know, we communicated and communicated that like craft vendors are going to be you know, sorry, are the lowest on the totem pole because we are an essential business. It's about food. It's a food farmers market. And, I mean, I had people just pissed. Angry. And it's like, I, I'm all for like you coming up and be like, hey, this wasn't so great. Like, make it try to make it work. And like, see if we can you know, just the way you approach people, I guess, just be mindful about like, how you come up and complain, because ultimately, it's kind of like, it's kind of like if you had kids, right? And they just keep asking you for something and you're like, you kind of start digging your feet in the sand and you're like, why would I like, you're never happy. It doesn't matter where I put you or like, maybe just deal with it and like, make the best out of it. Because I have seen people because we've had to move people around a lot in my market. Yeah, I know, it's summer, it's probably more just like, here, here's your spot, especially if people are there the whole season. But we've had to move people around a lot. And so I can definitely see like, okay, the people who go with the flow, and they're just like, okay, like, I'll make it work. Their sales are consistent. Like, it doesn't matter where I put them. And then it's the people like, I had one gal first market was in one spot, we moved her to a different spot. I actually thought it was a better spot. And she was like visibly angry. Like, red, you know, through her mask. I thought she was going to like hurt somebody, she was so mad. And I looked at the sales in that spot. And everybody next to her did great. And she did terrible. And I'm like yeah, cuz you were mad the whole time. Like I would walk by and she was just like, you know, not looking,not happy. You can sell your product anywhere with a great attitude and energy. It's my belief.
Nicole Jarman 48:47
Right? Right. And I remind myself to like, you never know what kind of day somebody is having that and what Yeah, you know, I mean, just we all try to approach each other with kindness and again, I too, sometimes I'm on a short fuse, and I have to remind myself everything is better with honey than with vinegar. But the how's that go? Like you get more bees with honey than with vinegar. Oh, you know? So I mean, myself included. But yeah, if we can all I mean, there's so I mean, it's.
Nicole Jarman 49:19
We're under so much stress this COVID on top of everything else like, right? I've definitely found people I mean, I get it, like when you're feeling out of control and as a vendor, and then you're like, well, I gotta take this out on somebody. Like, who can I take it out on? The President? I don't know. The market staff?
Nicole Jarman 49:41
Who do I take it out on? Right.
I think that would just be my, I guess we're gonna frame in a positive like, just, yeah, I know that, like, be human about it. Be kind. Make suggestions. And also listen, if I'm like, Hey, I'm really sorry. I know you'd like a different spot. But it's just not possible. This is your spot. Like, listen to that, and I don't need to hear about it every single weekend. Oh, man, okay, what other either in a positive way? Or what other mistakes do you see people make at farmer's markets? If we could pass on another tip.
Nicole Jarman 50:24
You know, I, I, I don't know, this is an observation more than anything, it's certainly based on product items. Understand that there are products that maybe people don't need to buy every week. So, you know, they want to come once a month, or they want to come every other week, or they want to come sporadically. And I'm not, I'm not opposed to that I'm not opposed to working with them that what I do always remind vendors is if someone comes to the market looking for you, and you're not there, then we've lost that customer, because then they will just assume you're never there. And we'll go to the grocery store, right? Like they just, you know, so. So that is why we encourage as much participation or being there as often as possible, because we don't want somebody to ever come expecting to see you and not see you.
Yeah, yeah, that's great.
Nicole Jarman 51:21
Not to mention that also, I think, if you're, you know, in some of these products that are more unique and things that people aren't as used to, it takes them seeing you it's like building that trust, or building that. I mean, you know, what the the tried and true marketing kind of equation or whatever, what they think someone needs to do see you or hear about you three times before they consider buying. So, you know, if they see you on the first of the month, like I don't know that that's enough for them to build that connection with you. Even if they're not talking to you every time they're coming. They're just seen it in that.
Yeah, yeah. 100% I love that. Yeah. Repetition. And that's even with the sampling, right, like, give them your your spices, but then like, they're not going to try them right then. So hopefully they go home, they try them and then be there the next time so that they're like, Oh, yeah, I tried them. Yes. Give me five bottles. Right. So.
Nicole Jarman 52:21
You know, and the other thing, and not that I'm not looking for vendors to all give me free things and to, you know, to, but but it is, it is as the market manager, you know, 130 vendors from it's difficult to try everything. So it's not bad to, you know, to give us things so we know what we're talking about. So when someone comes to the market, or you have a friend who calls or someone stops them, like what are the places we should check out? Who what are the things we should see. The sea moss is a perfect one. I had a I had like a weird eye reaction piece. And, and I know Samantha who runs the business? Well, she's on the self grocery board, actually. And I just hadn't tried it. Yeah. And I had this weird eye reaction. And she gave me some and I put it on topically and I ate it. And then she told me about it. And then I started researching it. And then I told five people about it, and then I gave it as Christmas gifts. You know, so it's, um, you know, we're good ambassadors, and we want to be ambassadors for everybody. But, you know, I think just helping just helping us be as familiar with your product as possible. And generally, that comes from trying it.
I love that. Yeah, I love it when vendors like, Hey, here's a sample take with you love for you try it. I think it's so smart. I think it goes back to like, I'm a big fan of coming from generosity and abundance. And not like, I gotta sell every one of these at full price. Like, be generous with your neighbors, if you can. You know, I know a lot of vendors trade products, and like, it's just good. It's more fun. And to come to the market with feeling full and abundant and share with your market staff. Yeah. Plus, we're doing social media, right? And so you bring us a treat, and then it's like, oh, let me throw this up on a story or let me put this, let's talk about this vendor. Right.
Nicole Jarman 54:17
So we last year with COVID and didn't have volunteers at all of our entrances and exits. So we had eight volunteers per week at 27 weeks. Thats a lot of volunteers, plus a couple others that helped us market boxes and we asked vendors You know, every week if they had something to give to the volunteers, we gave volunteers bags from of goodies from vendors and like, Oh my gosh, it was so lovely when we didn't feel like we were being a pain by asking for for donations. And then you are then you're sharing again then you're marketing to these, these vendors and they're feeling that abundance.
So well and on a very positive note there because it's just like, Yes, come to have fun, like farmers markets are fun. So don't make it like, it's all about how you think about it, even as a vendor and like,
Nicole Jarman 55:11
We're building community.
You are. And you're sharing your products, and you're getting people excited. You want to build raving fans, and those fans are not always paying customers right away. They're your neighbors. They're the market staff. Because I know like, I've tried some of my markets products, and then now I'm like, every week I'm like, Oh my gosh, I need my like Bruna's cheese bread. I'm like, this is amazing. How did I not know about this? Like, and now every time she's at my market, I'm like, give me a bag, you know. And so I tried to be really generous. But sometimes you gotta like, yeah, just build up to that. Be really generous with people around you. And just come to have fun. And get on your social media vendors and let your your people know where you are. Tag the market. Send emails to your people, let them know you're going to be there like really help us cross promote the market, because the better that the market does, you know, if you bring people and your neighbor brings people like then the better everybody does. So that's my last little nugget is get involved. Share. Tell people to come and then it helps everybody. Well, thank you so much, Nicole, this was really, really fun. And I love farmers markets. I think it's a great way to test your product, to get it out there, to hear your feedback.
Yes, yes, absolutely. This was so fun. Thank you so much.
All right. That was amazing. I had so much fun with Nicole. And I really hope that helps you to have a more successful season going into farmers markets, whether they're winter or summer or year round. Go into it with a great attitude. And just have a lot of fun. They can be so fun if you if you prepare. And you have and you've actually like they can just be so much fun and so good for your business development. If you're willing to do that, go through it. And be sure to get signed up for the farmers market masterclass, the updated version. It'll be live in just a couple weeks here in 2021 on February 24. And then of course, you'll be able to catch the replay as well. So that is FoodBizSuccess/masterclass2021. And you can either find the sign up to go live, or if you're listening to this after after this goes live, then you can catch the replay. And that ultimately will talk about the farmers market jumpstart course which is such a great course to give you all my favorite things and we go through your pricing and your profitability and scaling up and things to expect like how much money is it going to cost you? So be sure to tune into the farmers market masterclass and learn about the farmers market jumpstart course. All right, you guys until next time, have an amazing week.
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