Everything You Need to Know When Starting a Vegetable Stand!
That cute little vegetable stand you spotted on the side of the road or in the parking lot of a local hardware store—the one with fresh produce and flowers selling out of a small wooden hut—does that mean there’s a farmer’s market nearby?
Not necessarily; a vegetable stand is its own thing, an agricultural business offering homegrown fruits (and sometimes vegetables) for sale to consumers.
It can be as small as just a few bins containing apples and pears or encompassing acres of crops for sale.
Some stands are open year-round; others operate only during the growing season. Their products vary depending on where they’re located and what grows best in those regions.
How To Get Started with a Vegetable Stand
- Pick a location with a lot of traffic, even if you just set up a pop-up store, and people with average income or above. It also helps if similar businesses are nearby, such as farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and restaurants.
If you can get a local farmers’ market to let you set up at their market, it will be a win-win because they will already have customers who may be interested in buying your product.
- Set up your stand to look professional and pleasant for people to come to the stand. Make sure you have enough product behind the table to avoid running out before the day is over.
When setting up your stand, make sure you have plenty of change on hand because many people do not carry cash anymore and do not want to use their bank cards for small transactions like $1-5 purchases.
- Advertise! Get business cards made with your name and contact information so that people can contact you after your booth is closed for the day.
Also, put a sign on the front of your booth with your name and other important information such as: “open every day from 9 am-5 pm” or “We accept credit cards.”
If there are other similar businesses around (like restaurants), ask if they will post signs outside of their business advertising for yours! It is free advertising for them too!
Laws and Regulations
Running a vegetable stand is no easy task, but it’s also not as complicated as you think. It’s important to know what kind of laws and regulations are in place to comply with the law.
Even if you’re just running a small stand out of your backyard, there are still legal issues that need to be addressed:
- Licensing and permits
- Product inspections
- Food safety
- Sales tax
- Employee laws
Location is Everything
Before you get started, you’ll need to decide where your vegetable stand will be. Several things go into choosing the right location for a vegetable stand.
- Proximity to farms and grocery stores
- If your stand is too close to other stands or grocery stores, then customers may skip over your vegetable stand and just stop at those other ones instead.
Ideally, you want to find a location that is close enough that it’s easy for customers to access but far enough away from any competition that customers have no reason not to visit your vegetable stand because it is more convenient than another one.
- You need to consider how close locations are to the farms where you will be getting all of the vegetables.
If a potential location has very poor roads or takes hours and hours longer than another location, then it might not be worth setting up shop there even if it is the best place for attracting customers.
Which Vegetables To Sell From Your Vegetable Stand
The next step is to consider what types of vegetables you should sell from your vegetable stand.
You have many options about what vegetables you could sell, so it may be difficult to narrow down the best selection for your needs. Here are a few ideas to help you decide which vegetables would be a good fit for your vegetable stand:
- Vegetables that Grow Well in Your Area: You can find out what kinds of plants grow best by talking to local farmers and garden experts or looking up recommendations online.
If you’re unsure, it’s also a good idea to test some options and see which ones thrive in their new home!
- Vegetables Popular in Your Area: Take note of what people buy at grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
You can even ask people directly! If they already like eating certain products, they’ll buy them from you!
Make Sure You Have All Prepped Produce Ready to Sell
Before you open your vegetable stand, ensure that you have all the necessary prepped produce ready to sell.
For example, if one of your customers wants to buy a carrot, it’s a good idea to have more than one option for them.
How much time will they spend staring at the one lone carrot on display and debating which carrot is superior? There are so many thoughts they could be having at that moment besides “I am thrilled with this selection of carrots, and I can’t wait to bring this new treasure home.”
No potential customer should ever be required to make decisions like that!
Having a variety from which your customers can choose will keep them happy and satisfied and prevent any discomfort you may feel at the thought of watching someone deliberate over whether or not to purchase a single carrot.
Do I Need a Permit For a Vegetable Stand?
It’s good to check with your local government to see if you need a permit for your vegetable stand. Most cities require permits for selling food, and the necessary documentation varies depending on where you live.
For example, in New York City, a permit from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is required before selling food in markets or on street corners. The permit costs $50 per day and can be obtained from the department’s website. It generally takes three business days to process an application for a permit.
Can I Sell Frozen Goods or Value-Added Products?
We often ask whether vegetable stands can sell frozen goods or value-added products, like jams and jellies. Frozen goods and value-added products are the same—and they are not allowed to be sold at farmers’ markets!
For example, you may have a large surplus of blueberries from your farm that cannot be sold fresh. By freezing those blueberries, you will now be able to sell them for alternative use later on in the season, such as smoothies or baked goods.
It is still considered a “value-added product” even though it is technically a frozen good. If you want to sell your fruits and vegetables in this form, contact your local health department to see what regulations they may have!
How to Organize Your Vegetable Stand
Organizing your stand is a crucial step in starting up your vegetable stand. The first thing you need to consider is what you want to sell and how you want to sell it. Do you want to sell mostly organic vegetables?
Are you going to be selling both organic and conventional vegetables? Will your customers mainly be older or younger people? What are the needs of these people? These questions are important because they help determine how you should organize your stand.
Next, consider creativity. When setting up your stand, think about what will catch the eye of customers and make them want to buy from you.
While this doesn’t mean that your stand has to look like a circus, it does mean that there are no rules – except for those made by the local government – when it comes to making sure that your customers can spot your stand amongst others.
Lastly, make sure it’s easy for customers to both buy and pay at your vegetable stand. If they don’t have easy access and an enjoyable experience while at the market, then they’re likely not going back!
How Much Time Will My Vegetable Stand Take?
What do you do with a vegetable stand? You might be surprised to hear that the time spent at your vegetable stand will be minimal compared to the time needed to prepare and organize.
- Preparing and organizing: 3-4 hours
- Selling vegetables: 2 hours.
- Cleaning up: 1 hour
- Organizing financials: 1 hour
What Do I Need To Start My Own Business?
Now that you have the business plan in place, you can start seeing your vision come to life. You need to understand laws and regulations regarding starting a business and following business-related ordinances, like acquiring a business license.
The next step is to pick out a name for your vegetable stand and make sure it is trademarked wherever needed.
Once you have the name, you can open a separate checking account for the business and get a credit card in the company’s name.
So you want to start a vegetable stand. That’s great! We hope this guide has pointed you in the right direction and helped you understand all that goes into starting a vegetable stand.
It’s important to remember that a business isn’t created overnight. Keep these tips in mind as you set up your new venture:
- Create a Solid Business Plan: A business plan can be a useful tool for both business owners and investors as it outlines where an organization intends to go and how it plans to get there; however, it is also helpful for entrepreneurs who are looking to start their businesses by helping them identify any potential problems before they arise (e.g., lack of funds).
- Get Permits: Get the proper permits from your city or county government offices before opening a shop!
It ensures that everything is above board and protects (both parties) legally if something ever happens on or near your property while selling vegetables on the sidewalk outside of their home (e.g., someone slips and falls due to unsafe conditions).
It will also help keep things organized, so customers know what they are getting themselves into when purchasing produce at an outdoor market like this one.