So this week we are talking about the time commitment that vending at craft shows/ farmer’s markets takes. The idea came to me while sitting at Indiana Mall for eleven and a half hours this weekend, not counting travel time or the one-hour setup Friday.
I sell at farmer’s markets Wednesday thru Sunday in the summer while still working a full-time job. This means I spend around 40 hours a week sitting at a table staring at my product hoping it sells. During the off season I do one to three days a week depending on what events are going on. In addition to the time spent sitting at the market I also have to produce my product which is Monday and Tuesday night after work in the summer or two days before the craft show in the off season. I can grind around 50 pounds of flour and bag it in an hour, so that’s about four hours of grinding time a week with 4-6 hours in cleanup and prep. This gives me a grand total of around 46 hours a week not counting travel time to be able to sell my product. It is worth noting that I also spend around an hour setup and taking down my booth/table. Some craft vendors spend far more time than this depending on their product line.
Produce and perishable food vendors have many additional hurdles, some have to get up pre-dawn to pick the items they hope to sell that day than sit at a booth for 6 hours. Most of these items will not hold up well after the first day and maybe waste if not sold. The risk for these vendors is far greater than that to nonperishable or craft vendors because the shelf life is much less and a bad sales day can be a huge blow.
In addition to the time invested there is also opportunity cost involved. Every weekday farmer’s market that I setup at is taking time and wages away from my 9-5 job, as is the case with most vendors. This means that in addition to making enough to cover the cost of the space and transportation, the missed time at work must also be factored in when considering the profit/ loss on the day. On weekends the opportunity cost equation looks at the problem of staying with tried and true markets or risking new events.
All of these factors go into the prices of the items sold at markets or craft shows. Anybody thinking about starting a farmer’s market or craft show based business needs to consider these hidden costs when designing there product line and booking events to sell at. Remember just because you only stopped at a vendors table for a few moments they may have been there 8 hours and the products represent a great deal of time and opportunity investment.