Melons! I have to triage the ~75 varieties I've got on hand. I do hate not to run everything at the same time. Clearly, I can't leave out anything I've not grown before, but I really like the ones I have, so...
"Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is a gift, that's why it's called the present." E. Roosevelt "If the world is to end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today" Martin Luther
Post by keen101 (Biolumo / Andrew B.) on Apr 23, 2012 23:30:24 GMT -5
I've had great success selling various colors of tomatoes (and peppers, too!) at our market. Of course, red remains the favorite color, but I have many folks come to me for variety. Most will try two or three.
This response isn't aimed at any one particular person, but that makes me wonder if part of your problem getting customers to be adventurous might be that you need to use some sort of marketing tactic / an "official" outside opinion. What i mean by a marketing tactic and an outside opinion by someone "official" would be to display books like Amy Goldman's Heirloom books with their very colorful covers sitting right next to your most unusual tomatoes, melons, ect. I've never read any of her books, but i think having one (or two) of those books prominently displayed on a display table could do wonders. Why not use a little psychology and sociology to improve your sales. Other books could work too if they have colorful photos, these are just the ones that came to mind first.
There was a story i remember from my sociology class a few years ago. Basically there was a brand of beer that was loosing sales to a competitor, even though both tasted about the same. In the end they changed their bottle to look more like a wine bottle and i think added a little bit of tin foil to make it look classy. It worked, their sales ended up being better than they had been before. All with just a little sociology-based marketing tricks.
Keen, the kind of marketing you are talking about works. We use it a lot as we are trying to expand our market share. People respond to aesthetics and a perception of higher quality, the issue is that it takes a lot of time and effort to do this so it is important to focus the marketing effort on stuff that will maximise return on the effort.
One way we've been doing this is trying to create a certain "look" to our display. The most important aspect of a produce display is abundance, but after that we try and pay attention to the look of our fixtures and display. A lot of our competition sells their stuff out of plastic harvest totes. We are trying to build some display trays out of wood to do the exact same thing, the impression being an attention to detail and aesthetics that hopefully translates in the customers mind as making our stuff a "cut above". I'd say there is qualitatively no difference between my spinach and the organic grower across the pavilion, but mine is displayed in a hand-made wooden display tray with our farm name hand painted on it with a hand made sign that can be read from across the pavilion vs his which is still in the dirty orange harvest tote with a half-soaked peice of ripped carboard box with the price written which that can't be read till you are right on top of it.
Of course I'm bragging about this sign when it is half obscured by the spinach but I realized this when I took the pic and put the sign up on a riser to get it visible.
I just don't feel like the glitzy tomatoes are individually worth this effort. Possibly in a market that was set up differently, I've seen pictures of markets in Cali and other places where vendors basically can create a personal tent city with unlimited display space. I've got 16 feet of frontage to work with, I'm not wasting my time on a product that I'll never get people to buy the way they buy red tomatoes, I need to be efficient. I feel like the fancy colored tomatoes, especially the greens and the blacks are inherently psychologically wrong to a deep instinctual monkey response in our brains. You can train yourself that a ripe fruit doesn't need to be red but I don't have time to do this in the time and space we have at our market.
Post by littleminnie on Apr 24, 2012 21:19:38 GMT -5
I have done some of that kind of thing. I displayed Baker Creek's catalog especially when people question my eggplants. I also put an article about someone driving hours to get Winter Luxury pie pumpkins. I put a print out of a Martha Stewart cover of heirlooms pumpkins. I sometimes cut things out of seed catalogs for things like winter radishes.
I am constantly talking about the perception of value! I could write a thesis on that I think. There is actual value but people are far more concerned with what they think is valuable. Price is very relative; if someone wants it they may pay a lot but if they don't want it you can't mark it low enough- believe me!
My education of my customers about different things is an ongoing process even with the help of the other vendors. One lady is really good at it. She makes everything seem cool and desirable, such as garlic scapes. The guy next to me had yellow watermelon and gold beets and blew a lot of minds! Some people refused to sample the yellow watermelon.
About the displays, yes wood is better. I read about that in a great book, The New Farmers Market. It had real proof that people don't want plastic. I do use some for wet things, but try to go natural as much as possible- and old and cutesy. I even sold my stirfry kit in a bamboo steamer basket!
I suppose I should buy Goldman's book so I could show it. I just got it from the library you know.
From the sandy potato fields of Sherburne county, Windy River Eco Farm grows heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs for Market and CSA. Been growing since 2008.