On Tuesday, Scott Lewis of Lewis’ Farm Market in New Era, MI, discussed some simple and not-so-simple ways to bring in more customers to your farm market. At the Great Lakes Expo, Lewis offered eight tips to the crowd that filled a ballroom at the Devos Place in Grand Rapids, MI.
1. Put attractive labels on virtually everything. Lewis purchased a thermal printer and creates his own labels for everything from discount passes to tagging bakery items.
2. Simplify flooring. Because of the heavy traffic in the farm market, floors were reduced to the bare concrete and the concrete was polished. Lewis said the polishing will last 25 years.
3. Fudge. If you are not making it, maybe you should be. This is a good item for a farm market because it has a six-week shelflife and an endless variety of flavors. This might be an instance where you can please everyone.
4. Offset costs by working with other businesses in the area. Lewis teamed up with another area business on a billboard and was able to cut his cost in half.
5. Hire a parking attendant. To help reduce parking issues, Lewis hired four parking attendants last year and he says things ran very smoothly and the customers appreciated it.
6. Get a fruit flinger. Using air cannons to expel fruit many feet is just one more opportunity to do something different at your farm market. “If you are a guy, pumpkin cannons are cool,” says Lewis. “For less than $1,000 you can make your own cannon.”
7. Do your homework about the care and maintenance of animals if you are getting into a petting zoo at your market. Animals are becoming increasingly more important as fewer and fewer people have access to them. Lewis suggests starting with goats because they are safe, friendly, and have tons of character.
8. Signage. Don’t be stingy with it. Promote yourself and also make sure you have signage that states the rules and regulations that you want your customers to follow.