selling at a farmers market

Selling at a Farmer’s Market – Top Tips for a Successful Booth

Selling at a Farmer’s Market can be daunting. Is it worth it? How do you get started? What should you sell? Read on for all these answers and many more!

Steps to Becoming a Successful Farmer’s Market Vendor

Research Your Local Farmers Markets

Farmer’s Markets are extremely popular in almost every city, state, and country. People love the idea of buying items that are homegrown, homemade, or homebaked.

Even in the rural suburb that I live in, there are seven – yes, 7!!! – Farmer’s Markets within a 45-minute drive.

When I decided that selling at a farmer’s market was the right path for me, I began to research the local markets. Not every market will be a good fit for each particular vendor so there are several factors to consider.

The things that you should keep in mind when researching your local farmer’s markets are:

  1. The price to become a vendor – Every market is different and will have different fees. Many offer discounts to be a seasonal vendor, which may be a great option if you plan to sell most weekends during the season. The fee to become a vendor has to be added to your costs so make sure that you will be able to make this money back in your sales!
  2. The location of the market – Location, location, location! Location is an important factor in making your decision! Is it easy for customers to get to? Is it close enough to your home/kitchen/farm to get to VERY early in the morning on markets days? If your products must be kept chilled/heated, is it close enough that this is possible?
  3. The amount of foot traffic – You don’t have to choose the largest market to have great foot traffic. Some customers prefer smaller markets or markets that are closer to their homes. The size and popularity of the market will affect your sales but selling at small farmer’s markets is often extremely profitable. The amount of foot traffic will also help you decide how much product to bring, though this isn’t the only factor. Talk to the other vendors, the market organizers, customers, and your friends or family that attend local markets. GO TO THE MARKET as a customer and scout it out!
  4. The competition within your niche – Obviously I’m a baker so I was planning to sell baked goods at the farmer’s market. I love to bake a huge variety of things – cakes, cookies, bread, pastry, and on and on. But as I walked around the local market that I thought was a good contender, I paid attention to what items other bakers were selling. Some markets had professional bakeries selling as vendors. I knew that I couldn’t compete with their prices and inventory so I opted for a smaller market. While there will always be some cross-over, try to identify a gap in the market. Are there several bakers selling muffins and quick bread? Maybe you should opt for cookies and brownies. Do you see stalls selling loads of cinnamon rolls? Then loaves of bread may be a better option for you.

This isn’t to say that you can’t sell the same types of items as other vendors, but filling a gap can be a good way to stand out!

5. The specific requirements of each market – Many markets will only allow a certain number of vendors to sell certain types of products to avoid market saturation. Read the documentation on the market’s website or talk to the market organizer. This is also a great way to identify gaps in the market. Many customers will ask the organizer if someone is selling a certain item. They may be able to pass on this valuable information!

6. The application process to be a vendor – Some vendors, especially at larger markets, may be turned away. They could have too many bakers already selling at their market, or they may have a waiting list to be a vendor. This is important information to have to help you make your decision!

selling at a farmer's market

Choose Your Product Line

Once you have researched the local markets, it is time to decide what to sell! As a baker, I knew that I would be selling baked goods. But there are loads of other profitable items to sell at Farmer’s Markets.

  • Salsa
  • Jams
  • Beef jerky
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Herbs, either dried or fresh
  • Seedlings
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Handmade clothing
  • Screen printed items
  • Coffee or tea
  • Handmade jewelry
  • Pottery
  • And the list goes on and on

Check with your local market when deciding on a product line for ideas or guidance on selling at a farmer’s market!

Once I had chosen a local market to sell at, I went to the market as a customer and made note of what was available and the price points of other vendors. Then I talked to the market organizer who told me that people often asked for fresh bread but no one sold it.

While there are several reasons that others were not selling bread, I decided to become the ‘bread lady’! Bread is a product that takes a lot of time to produce and a bit of skill but by testing my recipes and creating a baking schedule that worked for me, I sold out every single week!

Research Your Local Laws/Ordinances/Health Regulations

Every city, state, and country is going to have different rules that govern selling at a farmer’s market. I live in Illinois where the rules are very strict, especially for food produced in a home kitchen.

I cannot give you a complete list of requirements for your area so this is research that you will have to do on your own.

If you are selling baked goods, work with your local Health Department to identify the local regulations. Some states in the US do not require a permit but others will require licensing, inspections, etc. It is your responsibility to comply with all local laws, ordinances, and regulations.

Since I live in Illinois, I have registered as a business with the state, as well as worked with my local Health Department to become a Cottage Food Kitchen. This allows me to sell at Farmer’s Markets as well as sell out of my home directly to customers (as of 1 January 2022 when the new Cottage Food Law went into effect.)

I was required to take a course and pass a test on Food Safety and Handling and provide the certificate to the county. I also have to submit labels with all of the required information to the county for approval. Certain foods, known as ‘Potentially Hazardous Foods’, are not allowed to be sold from Cottage Food kitchens in Illinois. Items like cheesecakes and pumpkin pie are forbidden so this info also helped me to choose my product line!

Create a Business Plan

While you may not think that you need a business plan to begin selling at a farmer’s market, it is definitely wise to have one!

A business plan will help you to decide on the direction of your business, your budget, how much profit you need realistically, your marketing plan, etc.

The bottom line is that you should treat your booth at the Farmer’s Market as a BUSINESS if you want to make money.

Register Your Business

Registering your business with your local government (whether that is your state or country, depending on where you live) is the first step to not only creating a profitable venture but also protecting yourself.

You will first need to come up with a name for your business. When you register your business, you will find out if the business name is available. You should also check that the name is not trademarked at This will save you from headaches and potential lawsuits down the road!

You can create a Sole Proprietorship quickly and easily but I will warn you this leaves you open to potential liability. I recommend creating an LLC if at all possible. This separates your personal holdings and property from your company.

There is a wealth of information on the Small Bussiness Association website, with links to most items that you will need, including applying for a Federal and State Tax ID or EIN.

Don’t forget that you will be responsible for paying taxes on the items you sell as well as on your income as a vendor and employees pay if you have them.

Get Insurance

Protecting yourself, especially in a food-based business, is critical. You may not think that a customer could ever get sick from your food because you keep your kitchen clean, follow all the rules, and try not to cross-contaminate ingredients.

But there is always an exception. A customer may not read the warning on your labels that lists that nuts are in your cookies. There could be a trace amount of flour in your stand mixer that makes a gluten-intolerant person sick. Or it may not be your food at all that makes a customer sick but you come under investigation anyway.

Call your insurance company and get a policy for Food Liability Insurance BEFORE you begin selling at a farmers market.

Create Promotional Items

Promotional items will help to identify you as a legit business and create a brand that your customers will identify with your products.

You will first need a logo to create your promotional items. If you have a designer’s eye and editing software, you can create your own logo but other reasonably priced options are available.

My favorite DIY by far is Canva. I create all of my logos, business cards, Pinterest posts, business flyers, product labels, and social media graphics in Canva with a Pro Account. There are SO MANY templates, fonts, graphics, photos, etc!

I even created several cookbooks and other e-books for my site in Canva! You can create a brand profile with your brand’s colors, fonts, etc, all available in your profile. I honestly don’t think that I could run my business without Canva.

If you are not the DIY type, I highly recommend Etsy where you can find graphic designers that will create logos, as well as graphics for your website, social media, printed flyers, business cards, etc. And you will be supporting small businesses, which we should all be doing as small businesses ourselves!

Create an Eye-Catching Booth

If you have a local following, you may have customers stampeding to your booth the second you open. But this will most likely not be the case.

Creating a display in your booth is the first step to drawing in customers. The items that you need in your booth will vary, depending on what you are selling.

For example, some people will use a display case to showcase their baked goods.

This type of display didn’t work for me because my local health department requires that each item be individually wrapped and labeled. Also, loaves of bread, dinner rolls, and the other items that I sell do not fit in this type of display. So I opted for baskets and crates.

Here are the items that are necessary for the best display when selling at a farmers market:

Decide on Packaging & Labeling

Once you have decided on a product line, you’ll need to decide on packaging options. The size and type of the packaging will depend on the products that you are selling at a farmer’s market. Some items, like seedlings or fresh fruit and vegetables, may not need any packaging at all.

Selling large items, like a whole loaf of bread, will require larger bags and only one or two labels. If you decide to sell individual portions, like one muffin or one cookie, most states still require individual packaging and labeling.

I’ve seen vendors avoid packaging and labeling to save time and money. DON’T DO IT! You will be shut down if and when you get caught! Always follow packaging and labeling requirements set out by your Health Department!

One of the most important things on your labels, in my opinion, is the allergy statement. You must clearly list if an item contains wheat, eggs, dairy, or nuts. This could save somebodies life so make sure it is clear and accurate!

selling at a farmer's market

Pricing Your Items

Ah, the age-old question – how much should I charge?

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they begin selling is setting their price too low. You are in this to make a profit so don’t undercut yourself!

Figuring out to price baked goods can be very tricky. You will end up losing money if you try to guess how much it costs to make things. I used to try to price each recipe as I made it and manually ‘guesstimate’ the price based on my last trip to the store or ingredient prices online.

NOT effective!

Then I found the magic answer – a pricing spreadsheet from Avalon Cakes that made pricing my baked goods so easy! You do need to sign up for the email list to get a copy of the spreadsheet but, trust me, it is more than worth it!

Finding this spreadsheet saved me from having to figure out how to create my own spreadsheet with formulas and all that ‘coding’ that I just don’t have the patience for. This spreadsheet allows you to input the price of ingredients on the main index and then create recipe tabs that pull the price from the index.

Don’t forget to update the ingredient prices in the index when the prices go up at the store. Groceries are up almost 30% right now and if you don’t update the pricing spreadsheet, you will be losing money!

Another pricing tip:

Add the cost of packaging and labels to the spreadsheet index. Then simply add the number of items you get from your recipe to cover the cost of labels, bags, boxes, etc.

I simply LOVE this baked goods pricing spreadsheet from Avalon Cakes!

Charging Tax

As a business, you will be required to pay tax on the items that you sell. Most states in the US require either monthly or quarterly reporting on sales and the payment of tax on your sales.

This means that it is important to keep track of exactly how much you bring in at the market from all sources (cash, credit cards, EBT).

When I began selling at the market, I was trying to add tax to each sale after coming up with a sub-total. This turned into an absolute nightmare and caused long wait times for my customers as I attempted to do the math for each and every sale.

So I walked around and talked with several other vendors for advice.

ALL OF THEM added tax to their prices and they all rounded up to the nearest dollar. This made calculating each customer’s total quick and easy!

selling at a farmers market

Payments Options

Gone are the days when everyone has cash in their pockets. The availability of credit and debit cards plus the effects of Covid have seriously decreased the number of people who shop with cash.

Shoppers at Farmer’s Markets tend to use cash more often than shoppers at retail stores but you should still offer other methods of payment to secure the most sales at the farmer’s market.

Accepting Cash When Selling at a Farmer’s Market

Always take a cashbox with plenty of change – more than you think you will need. By rounding your prices to the nearest dollar and including tax, you won’t need pennies, nickels, and dimes unless you do an end-of-market markdown by percentage.

Accepting Credit Cards

Having a Point of Sale system (POS) is a quick and easy way to set yourself up for success and more sales at the Farmer’s Market!

Some POS systems have a fee to get a card reader and set up an account. I decided to go with Square because they provide a free card reader and their app seemed very user-friendly. I received the card reader in the mail about 2 weeks after signing up, set up the account, and added my products for quick calculation at the market.

You will be charged a processing fee for each transaction so make sure to include this in your pricing strategy.

Accepting Snap Benefits and Food Stamps

Many markets are set up with their local government to accept Snap/EBT/Food Stamps. The market coordinator takes care of all of the paperwork.

In most cases, the market coordinator will issue tokens to individuals with Snap/EBT cards. These tokens can be used to purchase food from vendors at the farmer’s market and then the vendor returns the tokens to the market coordinator in exchange for money (in my case, it was a deposit directly into my bank account).

There is a form to fill out if you want to accept these benefits but the process is simple and painless and increased my sales quite a bit when I began selling at a farmers market!

Venmo, Zelle, Paypal,, and others –

One of the smartest tips that I got from the other Farmer’s Market vendors was to print the QR code for at least one cash app and display it on my table.

About 1/3 of my sales were paid for using Venmo. Several times I had customers with only a set amount of cash on hand but the availability of an app to make a payment doubled or tripled their purchase!

How to Increase Sales at Your Booth

Once you get the hang of selling at a farmer’s market, you will be ready to scale up! The more that you produce, the more you can sell. But simply making more of something will not automatically increase your sales.

Here are a few ways to make more money and more sales at a farmer’s market.

Attractive and Informative Signs

A large sign with your business logo and tagline can really draw in customers. A clear and concise but short description of your products will let people know exactly what you have to offer.

A sign that simply declares “FRESH HOMEMADE BREAD” pre-qualifies your buyers before they even look at your products! You know they are interested in bread because your sign brought them to your booth!

Create an Eye-catching Display

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create an attractive and eye-catching booth.

Pretty labels on your products are the first step. Your logo on your products creates brand recognition and makes your products look professional.

Elevate your products – literally! By creating a display with multiple levels, your display will be more inviting and look less cluttered. I used wooden crates that I purchased at Michael’s for $10 each. I painted them black but you could choose any color that matches your other decor and brand. The crates can be used vertically or horizontally or even stacked to save space.

Add some flowers or other brand-appropriate decorations. Because my business name is Global Bakes, I purchased a chalkboard globe that sat on top of one of my crates and I wrote a new message every day.

I also purchased a small bundle of flowers from another vendor every weekend. This livened up my booth as well as supported a local business!

Think outside the box

Being creative with your product line can increase your sales exponentially.

People can get a chocolate chip cookie anywhere. But they can’t get an Oreo Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie anywhere.

Your customers can make brownies from a box at home. But they probably won’t make Buckeye Brownies or Salted Caramel Swirl Brownies or Three Layer S’mores Brownies.

Unique and creative recipes will keep customers coming back!

PRO TIP: People LOVE their pets and you will see a lot of dogs at the Farmer’s Market. Making dog treats is a quick and easy thing to do at home. You can offer free treats to shoppers with dogs as they walk past your booth.

This brings shoppers to your booth, starts a friendly conversation, spoils their furry friend, and drastically increases your sales! I also have dog treats packaged for sale and they always sell out!

ALWAYS ASK before feeding a treat to a dog at the Farmer’s Market! Most people will say yes but never feed or approach a dog without the owners permission!

I have two recipes for Dog Treats that went over well at the Farmer’s Market:

Cheddar, Apple, & Bacon Dog Treats

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats

Makes Friends with your Customers and Other Vendors

Being friendly with customers and other vendors alike will give you a reputation. This is a reputation that you WANT!

People who attend Farmer’s Markets generally love to chat and get to know you. They are there because they value small businesses and homemade products.

Get to know them! Listen to them and *remember* them! When they come back next week and you remember their name or their kids or dog, they will feel welcome and relaxed! Even if they don’t purchase from you today, they will remember you in the future and recommend you to their friends and family!

Networking with other vendors is also a smart move when selling at a farmer’s market. Bartering between vendors is common and you can make some great deals when you are friendly with other vendors!

There is also an exchange between vendors of valuable information on local events, pricing and selling strategies, and other information that will be helpful in your business. Referrals from other vendors also go a long way with customers!

I often have people ask if I sell a specific product. If I don’t, I do my best to point them to a vendor that does. More often than not, that vendor will refer people to you in the future!

Good luck at the Market!

I wish you all the luck in the world with your endeavor to sell at a Farmer’s Market! Please leave a comment if you have questions, comments, or concerns!

The information included in this article is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial, or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. I have attempted to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts. It is the reader’s responsibility to comply with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Global Bakes makes no warranties about the information nor guarantee of results and assumes no liability in connection with the information provided.


  1. Steven Bergstein

    Very informative, Tanya! How long have you been selling at farmers’ markets and how are you doing at it? What makes it worth the effort to you? The money? Comradery? Socialization with customers?

    • Tanya Ott

      Thanks, Steve! I have loved doing the Markets and events for the last couple of years to get out and meet people and be social! Baking is a solitary practice, which I love, but getting feedback and meeting new people energizes me to bake even more! I also loved meeting all of the other vendors. Food lovers unite!

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