Be Prepared – Vendor Checklist for Outdoor Farmers’ Market Season

Vendor Checklist for Outdoor Farmers’ Markets

There’s a lot to do in preparing for a successful market season. Below is a non-exhaustive, of all items and activities to consider prior to launching your booth at the farmers’ market for the season. Let us know if we’re missing anything! Email [email protected] with more tips!

  1. Products
    1. Succession planting, harvest calendars, production plans, supplies inventory…be sure to have a carefully developed plan for your farm business to have ample product available to your market customers all season long.
  2. Market Memberships
    1. Submit all required paperwork and fees to markets you plan to attend.
    2. Submit certificates of insurance with markets or municipalities listed as additionally insured– as required by each market.
    3. Don’t be shy! Communicate with market managers about questions you have before opening day. (products allowed, buy-in rules, booth location. etc)
    4. Be sure you understand any/all market currencies (tokens, vouchers, etc) that you can accept and redeem for payment by customers. If the market has a Food Access Program, do you understand the process to be reimbursed for market currencies?
    5. Does your market have restrictions about what can be sold? Prepared foods, bought-in foods, etc?
  3. Licensing & Insurance
    1. Confirm that all applicable licenses, certificates, and insurance for your farm business and products you sell, are up to date, paid, and active. These include all local, state, and federal licenses that apply to your farm business and all products that you sell. Find more info on state rules here.
    2. Confirm that your farm/business insurance policy meets the minimum requirements for each market. 
  4. Food Safety, Market Safety, & Transportation
    1. Ensure that your products meet all labeling and packaging requirements.
    2. Check that you have methods to store and display perishable foods at temperatures that meet food safety guidelines. Are coolers, freezer packs, thermostats, etc in good working condition? Do you have containers to keep your backstock of product protected from the sun/heat/rain, etc.
    3. Be sure to bring a supply of water to keep plants and greens fresh during the market day.
    4. Are tables, tents, tent weights, scales, and signs in good working condition and ready for the season?
    5. Are you prepared for rainy, windy market days? Be sure you have plans to adjust your display for inclement weather- tarps or walls for ez up tents, reduced display footprints, etc. can help reduce wet display materials on rainy market days.
    6. Windy market days can be hazardous. Check that you have adequate tent weights and/or straps to safely hold your tent in place on windy days. Tent weights are a MUST for farmers’ markets.
    7. Are your market vehicles ready for the season? Are vehicle registrations, inspections, and insurance up to date? Be sure your vehicle is in good shape to get you to and from markets reliably. 
    8. Be sure to have a safe location to store any cash/currencies during setup/breakdown and during the market day.
  5. Display
    1. Plan your display ahead of time: save yourself setup time by knowing roughly how you plan to set up your display.
    2. Plan to sell items by volume or by weight- have containers or a legal scale accordingly.
    3. Have all prices clearly marked. 
    4. Be sure that your display meets market requirements- leaving minimum footpaths for customers, not placing signs that block foot traffic, etc.
    5. Consider how accessible your display is to customers with disabilities. Consider a setup that allows ease of access to customers who use wheelchairs. (find more info on accessibility here)
  6. Sales & Recordkeeping
    1. Is your point of sale equipment operating, up to date, connected? Be sure that any ipads, credit card terminals, apps, etc are up to date and connected to your bank account and ready to accept payments.
    2. If you accept WIC, SNAP, or Senior Farmshare, be sure you have any necessary paperwork updated.
    3. Do you have cash change prepared for market day? 
    4. Have bags or containers for customers to take home their purchases.
    5. Do you have a recordkeeping system prepared to record your market day? Create a digital or paper system to monitor your sales (items you brought to market for sale, items not sold, totals of cash, card, or other currencies you took in during the market day.
  7. Staff & Market Vendors
    1. Are staff members trained and ready to sell at market? Do they know the products they are selling and how to use them? Do they have a price list available to them?
    2. Be sure staff are informed of any market-specific rules, currencies, details that will help be informed to better serve your customers.
    3. Make a plan for unexpected staff absences
    4. Cultivate your market community: connect with neighboring market vendors, volunteer to help market managers with any tasks you are able to.
  8. Promote your Market Day
    1. Whether by social media, newsletters, posters, website, phone calls, etc- be sure to promote that your business will be selling at the farmers’ market. 
    2. Share the market’s promotions