SMALL business owners selling their produce at farmers' markets around the region have been learning some tricks of the trade to improve their sales.
North Pennine Dales project, Love Food, and the North of England Farmers’ Markets (NEEFM) linked up for the two Stalls that Sell More workshops.
Kathryn Potts, NEEFM director and project manager, ran the courses at Mainsgill Farm Shop near Barnard Castle for stallholders at Barnard Castle and Middleton-in-Teesdale markets, and at Greenhead Village Hall for the Greenhead market in Northumberland.
She said: “A farmers’ market is more than a collection of individual stalls, it is a retail entity and stallholders have a collective responsibility for the success of the market.
“These workshops help people think about how they can improve their individual and collective income.”
The courses included sections on marketing and presentation, from product display using tasters, name badges and branding to clarity of price and product information, especially about its provenance.
Stallholders also learned about talking to customers about the products, providing recipe and cooking tips, handling complaints and making the shopping experience and the visit to the market a positive experience.
Hazel Coppack, director of the Love Food project which supports local food producers in Teesdale, Weardale, the Allen Valleys and Derwentside areas, said that farmers markets have a vital role to play in promoting regional produce.
“Farmers’ markets provide a great opportunity for producers to sell direct to the public, giving them control of where and how they sell,” she said.
“People can talk directly to the producers about exactly how the food they eat has been produced.”
Stallholders attending the workshops were also encouraged to review their own stalls and suggest improvements to help their business. William Ramsbottom of Just William Hedgerow Products in Gilling West, Richmond in North Yorkshire attended the Mainsgill Farm Shop course.
He said: “It has been a great event. It has given me lots of new ideas.”