View Full Version : Crafts at a farmers market

Randy Cohen
08-01-2008, 7:47 AM
I grow veggies and sell them at the farmers market. The overseers of the market have allowed crafts to be sold there. its limited to 5 craft vendors. all together there are about 20 vendors. its a busy market and i do well there depending on how my crops come in.
But it bothers me that crafts are sold there. There is one crafter who started by selling turned bowls that he (supposedly)used wood from his own land to create. He now sells furniture too. He's a nice guy and I have nothing personal against him. It just seems like he's taking undo advantage of the venue which is supposed to be a farmers market selling food and flowers and plants. He sells some bowls for $200-$300. I'm not sure what he sells the tables and other wooden furniture for. He is doing very well there. It has become his sole source of income. He used to do carpentry work. He is living his dream. But I feel like if someone is spending their money buying his stuff that leaves them less money for the farmers selling things.
So I am asking for your opinions about this since you are crafters. Do you think it's appropriate to sell crafts at a farmers market?
BTW...if he reads these boards at all I'm sure to be getting the cold shoulder from him from now on.
There are many more complications involved (of course) but I would just like to get a feel for what you think.

Jim Becker
08-01-2008, 8:10 AM
Yes, I think it's not only appropriate, but pretty common. I haven't been to a (multi-vendor) farmers' market in years that didn't have some kind of crafts on display, often even in the same booths with the goodies from the field.

The fact that the fellow you cite is drawing folks who will put out that much money for his crafts bodes well for the rest of you...that demographic has money and is more likely to spend money for fresh/organic produce than the average public. At least that's the way it is around here...

Joe Pelonio
08-01-2008, 8:10 AM

I find it hard to believe that people wood buy less produce (food) because they have spent some of their money on crafts. Perhaps it could have an effect on things like sauces, cheeses, and other foods that are more of an "extra" than a need.

I have worked with people running two farmer's markets in this area, and frequent two others myself as a customer for vegetables mainly. I have been told that these are looking for more crafters to sell. They say that it brings in more customers that will then buy produce. We go because the produce is better, fresher, and at a much lower price than in the grocery stores, and it helps support local farmers. Yes, we look at the crafts, but do not buy, and from what I have seen, the produce vendors have lines of buyers, the crafters get looks but not nearly the sales. On the other hand, I have been encouraged to participate, which I may do next season, because they want more unique smaller woodworking items that are both more affordable than furniture and fit in better with a farmer's market than jewelry.

Randy Cohen
08-01-2008, 9:35 AM
I appreciate the responses and understand what you guys are saying. My market income has been excellent and I can see how he is a draw card. Thanks for your opinions and I will look at the situation from a different angle.

Lee Schierer
08-01-2008, 12:03 PM
I appreciate the responses and understand what you guys are saying. My market income has been excellent and I can see how he is a draw card. Thanks for your opinions and I will look at the situation from a different angle.Think of the market owner/operator! If he has lots of people coming to the market, then they be more interested in staying in business. If it takes a craft vendor or two to draw the crowd, be glad as the market is open and you can have a busy place to sell veggies.

Jack Camillo
08-01-2008, 12:20 PM
If he's making good money on his crafts, maybe he will buy some of your harvest. Go tell him what a great thing he's got going on there.

Randy Cohen
08-01-2008, 2:30 PM
The market 'owner' is the town and they don't make any money on it. The operator is a non-profit group whose board is made up of a few vendors (including me) and a bunch of non-vendors.
The crafter I am referring to and I get along just fine. He always hits me up for tax and financial advice (I'm a CPA) and his wife buys from me occasionally. I'll get this out of my mind and go back to enjoying myself. thanks all.
If anyone is near Blacksburg, VA come down and check out the market. Saturday AM and Wednesday PM. I'm the old guy with the white beard, red face, and white pickup.

Justin Leiwig
08-01-2008, 3:43 PM
Here's another good example for you. Our local market started out with farmers selling mainly organic vegetables, then came organic/humane raised meat for sale, then came flowers, then a pottery thrower, then a baker, then a wine seller, then gourmet foodies, and now crafters and woodworkers.

It's an evolution, and as stated above is definitely a boone for business one and all. Instead of having to go to multiple places they can look in one place.

This past saturday I didn't need to go there at 7 am in the morning. I would have loved to sleep in. But when I got there I smelled some of the bread they had out as samples and bought some. Well then I needed some Gourmet Spread mix to go with the bread. It just escalated from there and everyone at the farmers market benefited from my pocket. The glass blower had a beautiful paperweight that I would have picked up if I hadn't already spread enough love around and got the evil eye from my wife. Next time I will visit him first!

There is room for all kinds at the farmers market. Some even have created joint ventures. The woodworker at our farmers market makes bulletin boards out of the wine corks that the wine guy gives him. He also creates wooden platters that the pottery thrower makes a dip bowl to fit.

Maybe you could cut up a vegetable for display in the woodworkers bowl and spread the love around! Your nice veggies cut up for a salad displayed in his bowl would benefit you both not hinder one or the other.

Von Bickley
08-01-2008, 3:47 PM
I think it's a good thing. I would enjoy going to a Market like that.:)

Pat Germain
08-01-2008, 4:44 PM
Not only do I think this market setup is a good thing, I think it's the future. I would love to visit a market with local farmers and local crafters. Every time I visit a market hoping for such things, all I see are a bunch of vinyl siding and window contractors. :rolleyes:

I think at least some of our buying is going to go full circle. That is, neighborhood markets with neighborhood vendors selling things raised and crafted in the neighborhood. Gone is the idea of driving across town to a gigantic mall full of corporate, imported goods with heavy overhead.

Now, I'm not saying foreign products will disappear. But I do think many products, especially perishables, will become more local wherever possible. Things just might go back to the ways of our grandparents when they didn't expect or want strawberrys year-round. We might see small dairies and suburban farms sprout up again.

With the housing crisis, maybe developers won't be so keen to snatch up farm land for houses. With rising food and fuel prices, maybe local farmers can actually make money from a small farm selling high quality produce and dairy products to local consumers. Recent outbreaks of tainted foreign food might also influence this shift.

Again, I think this is a good thing. OK, I'll stop rambling...

Curt Harms
08-02-2008, 9:27 AM
this seems like a good thing. From a customer's viewport if they can get several locally produced quality items from one stop/gas expenditure the trip becomes more attractive. From a vendor's standpoint, a rising tide lifts all boats. Enjoy.

Randy Cohen
08-02-2008, 4:55 PM
I need to post this on a market gardener board too and compare results.