So my friends Gene and Maggie are vendors at our local farmer’s market. They’re dairy farmers by trade, but they also grow snap peas, zucchini and tomatoes on their land that they like to take to market. It doesn’t earn them a whole lot, but they enjoy doing it and at their age, who am I to complain? This week, Gene and Maggie had to go out of state to their son’s wedding. Being the friend that I am, I volunteered to man the stall in their stead. They weren’t in danger of losing the house or anything, but it just seemed like a waste to let all that food sit there.
I picked up all the produce the night before, along with the metal stall they sell from. Then, in the dark hours of Wednesday morning I set out, armed with nothing but my intuition, the WePay app on my smart phone – which is an alternative to PayPal – and some pre-weighed bushels of produce. I was ready to make my mark on the world.
Not going to lie here, to say that it was a pleasant experience would be a bit of an overstatement. I figured all I needed to do to prepare was read a few articles for new market vendors – I was wrong. Setting up the stand was a struggle, and I had to recruit two of Gene and Mags’ friends to help me build it. Then, it took over an hour for people to start flowing in. During the wait, I was mauled by mosquitos – it was not fun.
About two hours after I opened for business, I made my first sale of the day – a pound of sugar snap peas and a pound of zucchini from Gene’s pastor, who I think was doing it out of pity. Still, those $4 felt like victory in my hand. Then I realized I couldn’t make change. Thankfully there was a bank around the block, so 20 minutes and $100 in fives and ones later, we were back on track.
As the day progressed, I settled into a groove of sorts. I knew the questions people would ask before they asked them: “No, no pesticides were used.” “Yes, they were picked this weekend.” “No, I can’t make you a bargain. This isn’t my stall, it’s my friends’.”
I made a few more sales, dealt with one difficult older woman who was convinced that the zucchini at the stand were the same as cucumbers (they aren’t) , and all in all made it out no worse for wear. I sold $30 worth of produce – about half of which was done with credit cards, weird, right? – and was permitted to bring home a few leftovers at no cost.
Cleanup kind of stunk, though. Taking down the stand was, again, a pain. Then I had to sweep everything, and then separate Gene and Mags’ cash from my own, and then load everything back onto the truck and drop it off at home. But hey, it was an experience, and at least now I can say I’ve done it. Still, I'll leave the vending to Gene and Maggie in the future. I'm happy just eating the food.