Though the stands at your local farmers market might look like the produce aisles of your local grocery store, there are a few key differences to take into account when going for a shopping trip. I’ve put together a list of a few key do’s and don’ts to help get your farmers market experience started off on the right foot.
DO bring cash
Though these days many vendors will probably have Square, a long day at the market can bring plenty of complications. Batteries can drain, service can be spotty, and it’s always a good idea to have both cash and cards on hand in case a vendor is struggling to get their card reader working.
DON’T be pushy about prices
Now this can vary from market to market, and vendor to vendor, but generally the rule of thumb is to plan to pay full price unless you see vendors having a pleasant back and forth with other buyers over prices. Remember that these are often small businesses and independent brands that have to make a living too and you’ll be paying for much higher quality produce than you can access at your local big box store.
DO take the weather into account
Though many markets are rain or shine, your buying experience might be less enjoyable if you’re trying to find the perfect tomato during a thunderstorm. Many markets have minimal cover aside from the vendor tents, so be sure to bring sunscreen or an umbrella and dress for the occasion.
DON’T arrive too late
The prime time to arrive at a farmers market if you want the pick of all the best produce is right at opening. If you’re on the hunt for deals, you might be able to snag some things later in the day, but remember that many items may sell out during that time period. Many other shoppers also have the same idea and use farmers markets as a great day out, so just be aware that you might not be the first one, or the last one to arrive.
DO be prepared for crowds
On a nice day in summer or fall, just about any farmers market is going to be pretty packed. More often than not, the more enjoyable the weather, the more likely it is for folks to just swing by for a quick jaunt. If you’re not good with crowds or have a pet or small child with you, it’s probably best to either go earlier in the day or later to avoid the rush hour foot traffic.
DON’T loiter in vendor tents if you’re not planning on buying anything
Window shopping is perfectly acceptable, but make sure that you’re not blocking potential buyers from seeing the products if you plan to linger for more than a few minutes. Of course feel free to engage with vendors and ask them questions about their products, but do be mindful that they’re trying to turn a profit during the day and it isn’t polite to take up their attention if you have no intention of purchasing anything from them.
DO get to know your vendors
As I mentioned in my introductory post about farmers markets, this is key if you plan to keep shopping at the market week after week. Creating a rapport with farmers means that you’ll often get better quality produce, great cooking tips, and excellent conversation. Who knows, you might even make a few friends along the way!
Whether this is your first farmers market, or your hundreth, it’s always a good time to stop in and pick up a few quality items for your kitchen. Your stomach and your local farmers will thank you for it!
Have you ever shopped at a farmers market? What are some of your favorite do’s and don’ts? Share with us in the comments below!