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.
Boy did we get hammered in the month of August for Saturday special events. Sometimes we will book a “one off” event on a Saturday like a craft show or food festival. These type of events are usually expensive to enter which can run anywhere from $150 to $300 per day. As long as the crowds are willing and ready to buy kettle corn, you can certainly coupe your cost. We had a pair of music festivals appear this month and decided to cough up the money and go for it. We should’ve taken the warning we got from sticking around past the Onset Farmers Market and continuing to pop for the Onset Summer Of Love concert series that takes place on the same night and location. We hardly sold anything to this crowd because “real” food was just a few steps away at a pizza joint.
August 4, 2012 – Onset Blues Festival
This event takes place on a Saturday right on the same spot as the farmers market on Wednesdays. We we’re figuring “oh, we’ve already got some customers in Onset, they’ll just come by for this event.” Nope. First off, it cost something like 20 bucks to get in. Most locals weren’t going to cough up 20 bucks for music when they get it for free every Wednesday night at the concert series. Next, they stuck ALL the food vendors WAY in the corner. All the food vendors where bitching about their low sales that day. We’re talking about a 7 hour event, so with set up and break down, we were there for 12 hours. They also charged us $100 for the event fee and we needed another $50 to give to the health department, and this was after Dan negotiated the price down a bit. Oh yea, it was humid as hell that day. Total profit per person:
Eric: $38 – Dan: $38
The cruel irony here was that we made much more at the farmers market on Wednesdays because we didn’t have to pay the fees. Typically a farmers market only wants 20 bucks out of you, and Onset was even cheaper because they were trying to get started.
August 25, 2012 – Middleborough Blues Festival
This event was supposed to have taken place on August 18th, but it got rained out and everything was moved to the next weekend. There were red flags lying around all over the place, which I didn’t spot until it was too late. Again we thought, “the people will be TRAPPED inside of this event and we HAVE to get food from either us or the Lions club hotdog hamburger trailer. ” The cost of this one was only 50 bucks to enter. Another full day event, bands were lined up through out the day. We couldn’t miss and we needed a descent event to make up for the abortion of the Onset Blues Festival. Total profit per person:
Eric: $33 – Dan: $33
NOBODY, I mean NOBODY was at the event. It was surreal. I think there might’ve been 25 tickets sold? The day looked like it was going to go great. The promoters got all sorts of vendors to line the outside of this football field with their tents. There was room for a couple thousand people to watch the show. We started chatting with other vendors, “were you here last year?” No. Uh-oh. I’m thinking that’s not a good sign. The event has been going for 5 years now and nobody came back from last years event? You never walk away from a profitable event. The only people who were there last year were the Lions club trailer. 1 o’clock rolls around and I ask them how was the crowd last year at this time, since there was NO crowd forming now. “Much bigger”, the said. Not good. By this point we’re thinking the rain date screwed us because everyone had planned on arriving a week ago, and nothing was there. The only reason we made ANY money was because Dan sold kettle corn to all the other vendors. It was sad. Since this day was going to go down as the worst event of my kettle corn career, I was determined NOT to miss the Illumination Night back at the Onset Bay harbor. We bailed a half hour early, ran back to my boat and witnessed this: