My first market of the year was the 30th. A perfect way to say goodbye to June… saying hello to my Cuyuna Market family. I missed you all.
I was sitting there in my folding chair behind my little table with flowers all over it. The wind had recently blown my 10′ x 10′ canopy tent almost away, but my little family had me covered with weights and stakes since I’d forgotten mine. Let me tell you, one of the most terrifying things ever is catching the leg of your runaway tent 3 inches from hitting a car.
Once I’d gotten all set up, all of my little vases and jars set out nicely, signage clear, etc., etc., I made myself comfortable for the next three hours of market.
I think vending at a farmers market is one of the most valuable experiences a person can have. Putting yourself there in front of everyone, baring your soul through what you’ve grown and/or made, and hoping that someone will buy something, is a hard but rewarding thing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… flowers are really tough to start selling. People often come looking for a bargain, for starters, so prices have to be somewhat adjusted accordingly. Which is hard. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also want to make a profit maybe I don’t know
It’s double hard when you’re selling what most consider to be a luxury. Unfortunately we have not acquired Europe’s taste for flowers on the daily, and here in small town Minnesota a lot of people don’t appreciate what flowers can do. They stop by and say “ooh, pretty!”, sometimes linger long enough to hear my local, artistic, blah blah spiel, and then move on to spend big bucks on cute cookies the next stand over.
The worst are the people who snark at prices, or the frivolity of flowers. It hasn’t happened often, but once is enough.
It’s hard, man. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s not. But there are things that make it better.
I’ve gained customers from last year that now look for my stand. They can’t wait to buy flowers and will pay any price for them. And, of course, my faithful family friends that want to support me are a huge blessing.
It’s worth it when a lady walks by who always wanted a garden, or moved away from hers, but still adores flowers and is so excited that the market has them. “I had no idea! This is amazing!”
It’s worth it when a little girl runs up to admire them, and I get to send her off with a handful of posies after refusing payment from her flustered parent.
It’s worth it because the dads who have their kids pick out an arrangement to bring home to Mom.
It’s worth it because of the people who want to know everything about you, your farm, and the new floral movement at large.
It’s worth it just to spend time with my “farmer friends,” who, while all engaged in different enterprises, and who are sometimes even competition with each other, are more than ready to support each other, share information, stories, groans over lost crops or poor sales, and just be a big family. I wouldn’t be here without them.
People ask why I do the market even though it’s barely profitable half the time, the labor and stress of both preparation and participation is hard, and I have to put up with disinterested people. My answer could be that it’s good for making professional connections and building brand awareness… both of those things are true and very important. But it’s also the people, and the love and appreciation that can only come from face-to-face selling, and the community and energy that comes from selling alongside your peers–no, friends–at a market.
As always, thank you to everyone who supports me, either at the market or not. It’s because of you that I’m still flowering.