The Connecting Point show on the PBS station WGBY in Springfield did a segment on Steve’s operation at the Springfield farmers market! I went out that day to help pop and hang with him and see his offspring. Steve got his own kettle corn tent when I moved to Onset 2 years ago and has been doing extremely well for himself. His fetish is to go to ski resorts, set up the tent there and pop in the snow and the cold. Go nuts Steve! Personally – I’d rather move to Maui and pop under a palm tree. He’s been calling himself “Velma’s West”. I pretend to show up from time to time from the ‘corporate’ office and give him a performance review.
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In my search for winter farmers market, I had stumbled upon the Easton Indoor Farmers Market. What I didn’t realize is that there are plenty of OTHER farmers markets in a town called Easton, so I got all sorts of mixed signals when I went to “their” website. After figuring out I was looking at the Pennsylvania Easton Market (which was friggin’ HUGE), I finally got my story straight. They’re located inside the Simpson Spring bottling company. They sell all sorts of yummy flavors of sodas and bottled spring water. Apparently they are the oldest bottling plant in the country. The company started in the 1800′s and has changed hands many times over the years.
Dan noticed that Chris, the market manager and owner of the plant was very forthcoming when he contacted her. She immediately figured out that kettle corn and yummy sodas would make a good combination. She was very helpful in getting us into the market and helping us do the necessary paperwork with the town. The plant if really cool. It’s in an old mill building and has tons of space for everybody. We’re looking forward to doing business with these guys in the future.
Easton Indoor Farmers Market – 719 Washington St, South Easton, Massachusetts
Saturdays – 10-2 pm
Jackie Menino, the market manager from the Framingham summer market went nuts and started an indoor winter market. It’s located at 24 Vernon Street, Framingham, MA. First thursday of every month during winter. March 7, April 4, May 2nd 2013. What’s cool is Jackie found a few of the vendors from our Newton Farmers Market video. We though we weren’t going to be doing much popping over the winter, but we’ve found a who series of winter markets and we’re approaching them now.
We’re dedicated to making the new Newton Indoor Farmers Market a success, if this place doesn’t work, nothing will. Newton is a very upscale town and is practically part of Boston, so there’s a crazy amount of people within walking distance to this market. We’ve never done an indoor farmers market so this is basically one giant experiment. Our biggest concern is if kettle corn sales would work if we didn’t have our kettle stinking up the neighborhood for miles. There’s also the entertainment factor of making the stuff, but since I’ve been using a cover with a motor to stir everything, that really isn’t much of a factor anymore. Starting a new market is always tough since you rely on habits forming with people’s schedules. An indoor market is really tough because it’s not as noticeable when you drive past it.
We’ve now done 3 weeks and it’s going better than I thought. We’ve been selling about 50 bags for the entire day, which isn’t much – seeing that we can do that in an hour at a busy location. The fact is people are buying it like they would any other produce item. It’s too bad we didn’t get a chance to create any hardcore addicts with our product at the summer market. We only had a chance to pop there for 4 weeks before it ended, people were only starting to form their habits. There’s only about 200 people showing up at the actual in door market, so we’re doing pretty good with our customers to sales ratio. We just need to promote this event and get people to come on down, thus this video was created. The hard part is finding websites that are specific to Newton that have people bothering to go to them. We did get a write up on the Newton Patch, a website that caters to specific local towns.
I wanted to post my video that I created of the Fairhaven Farmers Market which happens every Sunday in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. I shot this video to basically help the market attract more customers along with touting ourselves. I recently moved to the Buzzards Bay area and I’m going through the process of finding new markets to pop at. I’m also hoping to find markets which are near by and will cut down my commute. There’s a lot of you guys who have bought my online course “Start Your Own Kettle Corn Business” and I wanted to go over some of the things that I’ve been discovering as this move has forced me out of my comfort zone and I have to almost “start over again” in locating places to sell kettle corn.
We’ve come up with a formula in choosing new locations (like farmers markets) to sell kettle corn. It’s basically this:
1. How long has the event been in existence?
2. How is its visibility?
3. What is the nearby population density?
4. Does it cater to kids/families?
If you can find an event which scores high in all of these, you’ll more likely have a winner. Lemme go over each of them.
1. How long has the event been in existence? – Obviously something that’s been around for a while will more likely be known by everyone who lives anywhere near it. Word of mouth is huge in any marketing, and this just takes time. I can remember my Framingham Farmers market only having me and 5 other tents back in the day. Now the market has grown substantially (along with my customers) and it’s very lucrative. It’s very hard to have people appear with just a newspaper ad and a couple of flyers around town.
2. How is its visibility? – If their marketing sucks, how will people find the event? If it’s located right next to a busy street, this will work. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, right? Most of the events that have failed were the ones WAY back from the road, behind some buildings. If people can’t see it, it’s hard getting everyone to remember and even find it. Our Springfield Farmers market was going crazy for us before it was forced to move off of a busy street and just a quarter mile away, set back into a park. We lost a third of our business the next year and still hasn’t recovered to where it was 3 years ago.
3. What is the nearby population density? – If the event is huge enough, then it’ll need to be away from everything, but if we’re talking about something like a weekly farmers market, you’re going to rely on locals to keep you in business. Most people aren’t going to drive very far just to get vegetables and kettle corn, it isn’t convenient. Recently we switched from popping at the Carver Farmers Market to the Fairhaven Farmers Market. We doubled our business the moment we started. Let me show you the Google maps for each spot.
Kind of obvious where we would do better, right?
4. Does it cater to kids/families? – Certainly ANYONE will eat kettle corn, but we’ve noticed that if you get the kids into the picture, everyone will be happier. We see this every day when school let out at all of our farmers markets. We recently had two blues festivals which were a major bust for us. Nobody was thinking of taking their kids to something like that. We did a 4th of July fireworks festival in Assonet, MA which was absolutely nuts. Families galore there. A craft festival is certainly a family event, not so sure of a car show. Again, you’ll always sell something (even at a car show), but the bigger money happens when you have all sorts of mouths to feed.