Friday, August 29, 2008

Banana Peppers and Farmers Market Customers

I tried a banana pepper variety this time around. Can't remember the variety off the top of my head but it tasted great. Two other vendor I respect had banana peppers on their table so I decided to test them. Mine were beautiful. Some of them were a foot long. People stop by the table to admire them and tell us how beautiful they are. They were a little tough to grow early on. Required lots of water and I had some blossom end rot on then during the mid season but recently they have been making up for it. The trouble is that nobody buys them after they admire them. I had them priced at 25 cents each but I don't think the price mattered. Doubt anybody would have bought them for a nickel. Reminds me of the Biblical quote "Why encumber the ground?" I have learned that any farmers market item needs to be tried more than one year so I will grow a few banana peppers next year. But if they don't sell next year that will be their last strike. Can't think of an innovative way to display them. I tried cherry tomatoes for several years and the only way I ever sold them was with yellow and red tomatoes in pint baskets alternating in a checkerboard pattern. You could sell lots of reds this way and had to keep putting them back into the pattern. Gradually over the course of the day you would sell yellow ones until you lost the pattern. Then you have to take the rest of the yellow ones home. Another incident was with sunflowers several years ago. I grew some dwarf ones in pots. The first year I tried it, I really didn't do that good of a job with them but when I took them to market, I sold every one of them include one that lost some petals at the market. I had put it back on the truck when a few of the petals fell off. A lady came by and begged me to sell it to her. I explained that it would not bloom again but she wanted it anyway. I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that people wanted plants bad enough to buy a bloomed out sunflower. The next year I grew 4 times as many and did a quality job. I only sold 3 plants and that was at a drastic discount. I have come to the conclusion that you can't figure out the customers in one year.

1 comment:

B. Knox said...

Did you try offering samples of the banana peppers? Grocery stores like Whole Foods use sampling extensively, and it really boosts sales of the item offered. Also, suggestions for use, such as recipes, might work. For example, if someone had no idea how they would use a whole foot-long pepper, they might be inspired to try it if they had a simple recipe (or better yet a sample) of pepper jelly.

As far as the sunflowers, you never know when a mention of sunflowers in a popular magazine or TV show might cause the ladies to feel they just have to have a sunflower this year. It might be interesting to discover customers' motives in conversations with them.

I find your observations (such as the checkerboard display) fascinating.