The no-show rule

When someone joins a farmers’ market, we normally would expect them to show up at least for several market days. Unfortunately, not everyone does. There could be a variety of reasons for this.

Sometimes their expectations are higher than reality, and they find that they aren’t going home with the pocketfuls of money they had hoped for. Other times they aren’t really sure where they are going to sell what they have, if indeed they have anything at all to sell, so they join the farmers’ market as “marketing insurance.”

The difficulty for markets comes when they are expecting and promoting the items the no-show member has indicated they would bring. Brochures, websites, posters and newspaper advertising all promote the market by indicating what shoppers will find there. When a member doesn’t show up, it hurts the credibility of the market’s advertising and disappoints shoppers.

Many markets also have membership limits either due to physical space limitations or desire to avoid over duplicating products offered for sale. Thus a no-show member is taking up a slot that could be used by another potential member.

Needless to say, no-shows are also pretty unlikely to volunteer to participate in the running of the market oranization.

Some solutions. As you can see by these excerpts from various market rules, some markets expect members to attend every market day while others allow a member to show up from one to four times during the season to remain in good standing.

Over the past several seasons, the Orono and Fairfield farmers markets have begun adopting a “No Show Rule”.

In 1999, the Orono Farmers’ Market adopted:

“If a member does not attend any market during the season, they will be considered as a new member the following year.”

For the 2002 season, the Fairfield Farmers’ Market adopted this rule:

“Members who are not present for 3 or more Market Days in the previous season will be considered new applicants and will require both a vote of the membership and a farm check to rejoin.”

On the other hand, some markets make it the responsibility of the member to notify the market if they do not plan to show up each and every market day.

For a long time the Camden Farmers’ Market guidelines have stated:

“Members are expected to attend all scheduled market days. If unable to be present, they are expected to notify the Market Master prior to the start of that market. If a vendor is absent for three consecutive times without just cause, he/she is subject to review by other members.”

The 2002 Maine Mall Farmers’ Market regulations say:

“It is the responsibility of each vendor to notify the Market Manager if they can not participate on a market day.”

If your market has been having problems with people not showing up at market after joining, then perhaps some of these examples of actions taken by other markets will be of help.

About Tom Roberts

When I started attending the Brewer Farmers’ Market back in August of 1983, my sole concern was being able to sell the produce my farm was growing at a good price. After attending market for a year or two, I began to realize that how the market was organized had a great impact on my sales. And how the market was organized also influenced how it made decisions about dues, new members, what could be sold at market, and how it promoted itself—and this, too, had an impact on my sales. So I got involved in the market’s steering committee and began to understand how various market members thought the market should operate. Some wanted a market czar, some wanted everyone to be allowed to do their own thing. But everyone seemed to agree that if the market as a whole did well, then so did they.