just applied for farmers market

So not long ago I realized I'm going to have entirely too many plants to responsibly handle. I then started researching the local farmers market. I've never seen a pepper guy, though there are always a few produce sellers with your typical cooking peppers thrown in the mix. So I saw an opportunity. 40+ varieties, spanning the Scoville scale bottom to top, sell at all stages. Seeds, plants, peppers fresh and dried, powders pure and mixed, and vinegars. I gave them a very professional and responsible sounding "why you should pick me" plan on my application. Texas cottage law says I'm ok with what I intend to sell; I won't need any special permits or licensing for these items alone.
Now I've read high and low on the site through many topics and threads about the liabilities, the pains in the ass, the repetition.
But what about the good stuff?
I'm not expecting to hit the jackpot. I do, however, see an opportunity not only to make a buck or two, but to help build this community of heat seekers and pepper aficionados.

So what say you fine folk? Am I entering a world of pain, or is this gonna be a fun side project?
 

salsalady

Business Member
Oh, You are definitely well on you way to being fully part of the -chilepepper-continuum!!!
 
 
Welcome! ToThe LoonyBin! 
:cheers:
 
 
 
That being said~~~
 
Those of us who hang out in the chile pepper forums are the less than 1% of the general population in regards to heat.  People purchasing shiles at your local farmer's market will be buying 80% mild and meduim heat chiles. 
 
 
 
There are markets for the supehot chiles, just have to get those sorted out befor e committing acres to the project.,  
 
salsalady said:
Oh, You are definitely well on you way to being fully part of the -chilepepper-continuum!!!
 
 
Welcome! ToThe LoonyBin! 
:cheers:
 
 
 
That being said~~~
 
Those of us who hang out in the chile pepper forums are the less than 1% of the general population in regards to heat.  People purchasing shiles at your local farmer's market will be buying 80% mild and meduim heat chiles. 
 
 
 
There are markets for the supehot chiles, just have to get those sorted out befor e committing acres to the project.,
Thanks for the welcome! Who's burning toast?

I definitely understand the fact that we are the 1%ers of the Chile world. I made sure to include that understanding in my application as well. I plan on gearing more towards flavor, variety, and growing your own peppers; hot or not.

And then over here I have some sh!t that'll melt your face off.

Lol
I just want to show people that you don't have to fear peppers... Most peppers.. You just have to know what you like and how to turn something you don't like into something you do.
 
salsalady said:
 
 
Those of us who hang out in the chile pepper forums are the less than 1% of the general population in regards to heat. 
 

 
Good luck, this is something i've thought about as well. There is a organic farm down from the road from me, they have a small building and a honor box inside. They never man it, you just go in , pick your produce and put money in the box. I thought about doing something similar in my front yard during harvest times. I always have way more veggies than we can eat and only one neighbor I can stand to speak to. 
 
D3monic said:

 
Good luck, this is something i've thought about as well. There is a organic farm down from the road from me, they have a small building and a honor box inside. They never man it, you just go in , pick your produce and put money in the box. I thought about doing something similar in my front yard during harvest times. I always have way more veggies than we can eat and only one neighbor I can stand to speak to.
Hahahaha that picture!

Yeah that would definitely not work in my neighborhood. Although "people see money on the counter, no one around, they assume they're being watched."
I've also thought about donating plants to the community garden, but kids take field trips there. Pass.
But micheal if you need to unload veggies buddy send em my way! Lol
 
twilliams386 said:
Hahahaha that picture!

Yeah that would definitely not work in my neighborhood. Although "people see money on the counter, no one around, they assume they're being watched."
I've also thought about donating plants to the community garden, but kids take field trips there. Pass.
But micheal if you need to unload veggies buddy send em my way! Lol
 
Yea same would prolly happen in my neighborhood. 
 
Lol should be able to recoup. This ass at farmer market by me would buy produce at walmart and turn around and resell it at the market as organic and charge lots more. Sadly people would still buy from him even though they still had the walmart stickers and non organic codes. Make some good salsa and sauce the average joe can eat to buffer the void between the super hot heads and you should do good.
 
Super cheap stall fees at $10 a week.

The good: community, networking, working outside, pride of ownership, bartering.

All good things

Good to start thinking about booth set-up. And since you're selling so many varieties and it's cheap to print & laminate placards, I would suggest making one for each of those 40+ varieties.

You've only got to make them once, but they're absolutely save you time and increase sales.

Be descriptive - state country of origin, heat level and suggested uses.

While it might seem like a lot of work to make 40 or so placards, it's not as much work as answering those 3 questions about 40 or so peppers every other customer.

Also pricing is going to be an important consideration for you. As chileheads we expect that certain peppers will be more or less expensive.

To your customers you might have some 'splainin to do if you've got $20/LB Superhots (for example)

Good luck and as SL said, welcome to the looney bin!
:cheers:
 
D3monic said:
Lol should be able to recoup. This ass at farmer market by me would buy produce at walmart and turn around and resell it at the market as organic and charge lots more. Sadly people would still buy from him even though they still had the walmart stickers and non organic codes. Make some good salsa and sauce the average joe can eat to buffer the void between the super hot heads and you should do good.
Wow I'm surprised the market let that happen! Ours has some pretty good policies in effect and so far I haven't seen any blatant dishonesty like that. There is an alpaca guy there that sells all things alpaca, including manure. Hopefully he's into spice so we can maybe work out some trades.

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce said:
Super cheap stall fees at $10 a week.
The good: community, networking, working outside, pride of ownership, bartering.
All good things
Good to start thinking about booth set-up. And since you're selling so many varieties and it's cheap to print & laminate placards, I would suggest making one for each of those 40+ varieties.
You've only got to make them once, but they're absolutely save you time and increase sales.
Be descriptive - state country of origin, heat level and suggested uses.
While it might seem like a lot of work to make 40 or so placards, it's not as much work as answering those 3 questions about 40 or so peppers every other customer.
Also pricing is going to be an important consideration for you. As chileheads we expect that certain peppers will be more or less expensive.
To your customers you might have some 'splainin to do if you've got $20/LB Superhots (for example)
Good luck and as SL said, welcome to the looney bin!
:cheers:
Thanks LDHS, great advice!
I basically told them that until my plants reach hardening off stages I would be there as strictly informational. Building interest, getting a mailing list and what not. I've been researching some thorough Scoville scales to base my information off of, but basically I'd like to be able to point out the pepper I'm selling on the scale and say this is how hot it is compared to this. Individual placards are a great idea, I'll definitely be exploring that route.
I'd like to take all the knowledge I gain from here, and spread it. I don't plan on basing my sales off of super hots, they will probably end up being a novelty or a special request item. I intend to open people up to the world of peppers, all the uses, flavors, origins, etc.. While also giving advice on how to grow their own (aka my babies I sell them) and how to incorporate them into cooking. I imagine my spice blends to be up there in sales, simply because people love to grill down here. If I provide them an aji Limon blend to kick up their lemon chicken recipe, word would spread quickly.
As for pricing, I would do comparative research. Probably have tiers based on availability, heat, effort, things like that. I don't want to Rob anyone, but I'm not going to give freebies either.
First step is getting accepted. Fingers crossed
 
Your absolute best friend in this effort will be your local extension office.  Most, if not all, states have them.  They are kind of a partnership with state universities and state department of agriculture.  They usually know all the cottage laws for agriculture, offer classes, and help promote your business with various programs.

When we started selling plants, anything hotter than a habanero just sort of sat on the table.  Sweet Bell sold much, much, much better.  More so of the red and yellow than the green.  Tomato were a hit from the start.  Gradually, you build return customers in the following years but at first folk just don't know what you are selling or how to cook with it.  If you are looking for an income, think first year best to focus on sweet and well known peppers.  Jalapeno, Banana, Bells, Cayenne, and even Habanero have always sold well at our farmers market.

In the super hot category, the Ghost Pepper sells best for us.  I think it is because it is so well known.  Most folk continue to believe it is the hottest in the world.  Thinking this year will be even better for Ghost Pepper because so many fast food places are hawking it now. 

Liability insurance is relatively low price when you are talking plants and produce under the cottage laws.  When you go to value added (sauce, salsa, jelly, and so on) the cost of insurance seems to jump.  I think it is because insurance companies are hip to the cottage industry laws not insisting on a commercial kitchen.

A last thought.  We are in a very Hispanic area.  Our super hot sales jumped when we started putting information in Spanish.  Our neighbor down the way is a Mexican citizen living here legally with his US wife and their children.  His kids and mine are friends.  His daughter has been a great help.  Not only does it help to inform folk who do not speak English, I think it screams I am not a bigot.  Only draw back is you spend much time explaining you do not actually speak Spanish.  Oh how hard I have tried to learn.
 
salsalady said:
Those of us who hang out in the chile pepper forums are the less than 1% of the general population in regards to heat.  People purchasing shiles at your local farmer's market will be buying 80% mild and meduim heat chiles. 
 
There are markets for the supehot chiles, just have to get those sorted out befor e committing acres to the project.,  
 
Actually, you'd be surprised what people buy when you're a dedicated chilli stall.
In my experience, if everything is labeled according to heat, your best selling sauces and such will be the absolute top end ones, though those around restaunt hot food level will be second and ghost stuff will also be pretty popular.
Your fresh chillies will sell to the so called 1% and youtube gloryseekers. Individual Ghosts and Reapers will be your best sellers there but, if you can talk to people about the more flavourful and milder peppers you might get some more sales there, though those do better bulk.
And then, plantswise, some people will by supers and some people will buy mediums. Expect very few Reaper and Scorpion level plants to sell and similar sales with anything too mild. There will be a market for both ends but expect them to be slow sellers compared to your Scotch Bonnet to Ghost heats.
 
Also, if you are selling plants, people won't buy what they don't know and they won't know a lot. Be prepared to rectify that by spending time talking to them.
Real chilli lovers can be convinced to buy milder things like Padrons and Shishitos if the flavour's there. Ametuer growers know their heat level but will gladly take substitutions for their specific chilli of interest if you can tell them why. Consider providing Dorset or King Nagas over true Bhuts for ease of growth. And gift givers love pretty things like NuMex Twilight so long as the heat level and sales pitch are right.
 
You can do very well at farmers markets. I've found that people really like to buy local products and support the community.
 
We sell every Saturday at a farmers market, and do events whenever we can.
 
Spend every day at the farmers market like a training exercise. See how people interact, watch what they do. You'll find that the most sales go to food and drink vendors. At our farmers market, coffee, smoothies, and food are the biggest sellers.
 
So after watching people standing in lines for that, it got me thinking :)
 
Now each week, we cook something new with our sauces, and set appetizers out for people to try. Once we get them close to us we can usually talk them into a sale after they see how delicious the sauces are on food. Sometimes people don't always know what to do with the product you are selling, so you need to give them options. Show them what you can do with it.
 
Ohio cottage laws restrict salsa and hit sauce sales. Guess I need to go powder. I've been trying local farmer's markets to sell off extra plants to try to recoup some of my investment. It's definitely a niche market. I like the ideas above, especially the laminated pepper specs.
 
Spicefreak said: "Actually, you'd be surprised what people buy when you're a dedicated chilli stall."

Not my experience.  What I saw was things hab and below sold.  Commons with a different color (choc hab, purple cayenee) sell really well. But the super hots dont get too many repeat customers and farmers market merchants thrive on repeat customers. Even things like ghost pepper sell due to the name being everywhere, but they sell only once to one customer.  OK, they do bring their friends to screw with them. 
 
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