The farmer’s market is a community in of itself with rules, whether spoken or not, to help it thrive and therefore, be successful. Really just like everyday life! Follow the rules, everything is good.
Our first venture, outside of the antique fair, was quite intimidating. This particular farmer’s market was a highly successful one, although definitely seasonal, and we obviously were the “new kids on the block.” Like your first day at school, in a new town, no friends around, and your mom drops you off at your seat inside your new classroom. When you’re in the fourth grade. And fifth grade. Ask Haley.
Needless to say, it was fun once we managed to secure our spot for the morning and successfully got unloaded in the designated area. Set-up was good with a few timid hello’s and “good morning!” to other vendors. (Thankfully, we were starting out during the “slow” season; August in the southern Arizona desert.) We were then ready to sell to all of those customers that we knew were going to buy us out. Why? Because our homemade cookies were just so fabulous, that’s why. It didn’t matter that we were new to the market and the area. So what. We had our happy faces on. They will love us. And we had absolutely tons of cookies to sell. (Know your market; another post to come.)
Looking around that morning, and I remember it oh so well, we only saw other vendors eyeing us like we were the enemy. They didn’t know us and how come the market manager had decided that we should be located directly across the aisle from two other bakers? At least one was a gluten-free bakery. By that point though, people were beginning to filter into the market, happily greeting those vendors around us, some as if they were old friends. This was completely new territory. We have to converse? be social? (Another post to come.)
Long story-short, we got through the market but learned a lot that day; this is just a snapshot:
Rule number one: It’s definitely important to get to know your neighbors in the community, or fellow vendors. Actually, all of the vendors in due time. They are your support group, your eyes-in-the sky. (They can also be your worst nightmare.) Be supportive! Help out with set-up if someone needs help or simply say hello. Get to know them as well as their business. Try and patronize their business when possible. It’s a two-way street in this community.
Rule number two: Ideally, you refer people to them, and if they are smart business owners, they will do the same for you. If we don’t have what our customer is looking for that day, perhaps Harry down the aisle does. Of course, this relies on the basis that you’ve become a good neighbor in the market. Remember, community?
Rule number three: Do unto others as you would like for your fellow vendors to do for you. Ask and you just might receive, but still be cognizant of the fact that everyone is a small business owner and each of us have the same goal in mind. We can do this – even together!
Decide not to follow the community rules? Buck the vibe and you’re probably going to be writing your own ticket to nowhere. It’s really that simple. Another post to come.