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marketing dog treats

Dog Treat Business Farmers Market Tips

A farmers market is a great place to gain exposure for your dog treat business. Figuring out what to bring with you is often stressful. Read these tips from an experienced farmers market vendor to help you get started and enjoy the experience!

Cristina Egnew from Cristina’s Dog Treats, a dog treat business based in Tillamook, Oregon, offers this advice to those doing an event for the first time. “In most cases everything about the first event can be stressful,” she says. “You will probably be asking yourself the following questions: How much product do I take, what do I need, do I have enough change, what if I don’t sell anything, what have I gotten myself into?”

A farmers market veteran, she shares what she does to help you reduce the frustration and ease the process.

1) How much product? Cristina says, “I have a simple rule when it comes to selling my dog treats at farmers markets. Take a minimum of $100 of each product.”

“For example, I would take at least twenty-five (25) 4 oz bags:  four bags of four different flavors and five variety packs. This rule has saved me many headaches. As you attend more markets, you will get a better idea of what your customers want and you will adjust your product quantities.”

2. What else to bring besides product? “This does depend a little on the venue but not too much. I like my stuff organized so I have a supply tote with basic supplies.”

Basic supplies. These include the following – in Cristina’s words:

  • Tablecloths. Take at least one extra because you never know when you’ll need it. Things happen like a dog urinates on the cloth or the table is large and you need two cloths to cover it. You can even use the tablecloths as a backdrop in your space or stall.
  • First-aid kit.  Things happen. I keep mine stocked with the basic supplies plus I have added hand warmers, aspirin, and anti-itch spray.
  • Miscellaneous bag. This contains tape, a white board, board pens and pen cleaner, note cards, two ball point pens, scissors, string, safety pins, and other items that make it easy to display and label. 
  • Paper towels, dry rag and wet wipes. If you have ever been slimed by a Newfie, you understand! It rains a lot here in Oregon, so I have to be prepared to dry off my tables, totes, and display items when they get wet. 
  • Bungie cords.  Not only will they keep your totes closed, but you can use them to anchor your sign. 
  • Sign Folder. I put my signs listing flavors and prices into a folder that I keep in my supply tote. This ensures that I don’t forget it or misplace my signs. 
  • Extras. I live on the Oregon coast where the outside temperature gets cold so I have a throw, gloves, extra pair of socks , hair brush and ear-warmers in the supply tote as well.
  • For indoor venues. An extension cord and surge bar comes in handy.
  • Banners and business cards. I keep these with my basic supplies so I never forget them.
  • dog treat businessDisplay table set-up at a farmers market.

Other useful items:

  • Display items. I keep all my display items together. Any small pieces are in a bag attached to the larger piece they go with. I like display items that collapse or can be stacked on each other. 
  • Tables. In most cases you can get away with one table. If I find I need more room I’ll stack totes and cover them with my second table cloth. 
  • Chair. I always take my own chair. Personally, I prefer the artist chairs because they’re easier to get in and out of and place you higher. 
  • Canopy and weights.  There are several different brands available but I like the Caravan Canopy (click to see product.) Why? It is one of the few brands that you can actually set up by yourself without a problem and I have found they withstand the wind better then other tents. I have had the same one for 10 years now and it has held up through high winds.
  • Food and drinks. You will be there a long time so make sure you have nourishment.
  • Supplies for the dog. If you plan to take your pet, make sure you have everything you need to keep him/her comfortable. I bring a dog bowl and water for the public.
  • Side curtains.  These are great to have especially if it’s raining or windy, or for some privacy for your space. I have a neighboring vendor who never stops talking so my side curtain goes up. :)

More considerations:

  • How much change to bring? My cash box starts with $100. How you price your products will dictate the type of change you will need. Personally, I like even prices – it just makes my life easier. For example: If you are selling dog treats 3 for $1, you will want to have some pennies because there will be customers who only want to buy one which comes out to 33 cents. My prices are in 25 cent intervals which makes it easy to quickly add totals in your head. So my till looks like this: $10 in quarters, $20 in tens, $25 in ones, and $45 in fives. You can always adjust or take extra but make sure to mark it so you remember what you started with after a long day.
  • Set up and tear down.  I see more vendors freak out about this over anything else. The more you do it the easier it gets but here’s a trick: practice a few times at home including loading and unloading. By going through the motions ahead of time, you can figure out how to best set up your display. Take photos or draw a diagram so you know what to do and save time. Once you decide how you will set up, I highly recommend this next exercise: load your vehicle with all your stuff, get in, then time yourself getting out and setting it all up.  Why? Now you will know how much time you need to get ready and how early you need to arrive at the event. Always add 15 minutes to the time especially at a farmers market because there could be a traffic jam caused by other vendors dropping things off. After tear down, make sure to pack your supplies correctly. You will save time later and be ready to go for the next event. I watch so many vendors just throw their things in totes that have to be repacked. It makes it easier to find items as well.  
  • Work on a craft project. I make cat toys and dog toys, so I bring my supplies. People will come over just to see what I’m working on! 
  • Load the night before. Then you can sleep in a bit longer the morning of the event!           

We thank Cristina for these words of wisdom. She regularly exhibits at farmers markets, so her advice comes from a lot of experience. Please visit Cristina’s Dog Treats to learn more about her business and find out where she will be exhibiting next!

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