Farmers Market Buying Tips
I love the farmers market. The rows of fresh vegetables and fruits, the crowds of people, the sun beating down. I love it all! What makes it even better is getting a good deal on all those yummy foods. There are many ways to make your trip to the farmers market a success.
First, talk to the owners of the stands. They usually love to chat with customers and share information (brag a little) about their foods. The owners will be a great source of information about the types of foods they offer, how the weather has affected their crops this year (this information will help you in negotiating a good price), which pepper is sweet and which is hot, etc. Information is always a good thing. If you come back week after week, knowing the owners of the stands will provide other benefits as well. Maybe they know you always purchase cucumbers. If you come every week of the summer they might even save the best cucumbers for you. Or offer you a sample of a new type of cucumber they think you might like.
Second, shop around before buying anything. There are usually many stands selling similar items. Prices will vary from booth to booth. Most booths will have prices labeled, so it should be fairly easy to check around. Also, the quality of the foods will vary as well. You definitely want to look carefully at the foods you are considering. Shopping around will allow you to get the best deal on the best foods. And it couldn't be easier since all sellers are in the same area.
Third, negotiate with the seller. The seller is setting the prices, but these are generally not set in stone. If you noticed that all the other booths are selling tomatoes for $3 a basket and he is selling his, possilby better looking or larger tomatoes for $4 a basket, he might be willing to lower his price to get the sale. If you are purchasing a large quantity of items, the owner will be more likely to make a deal with you. If you go to each booth and purchase one or two items, they will be less likely to negotiate, than if you purchased everything from one seller. So after shopping around, you could pick the best looking booth with the best prices and make an offer. The worst that can happen is the seller says no and you have to pay what they are asking. This is still usually a better deal than the grocery stores anyway.
Fourth, timing makes a difference. If you are looking for hard to find items, getting there early will help you get what you are looking for. If you are looking to pay the least amount of money, getting there around closing time will help you save money. Farmers do not want to have to pack up those fruits and vegetables and take them home. What are they going to do with them at home? Chances are they already have more than they could eat or they wouldn't be selling the extra at a farmers market. Getting to the market at closing time will definitely allow you negotiating power. If the sellers have not slashed their prices at this point, offering less than asking price is a good idea and this is the perfect time to do it. The farmers will prefer to make some money by selling their produce, rather than watching it go bad and not making any money at all. I have also found that some sellers will give away items at the end of the day if they are just not going to last another day and there aren't any buyers around. They would certainly not be doing this at the beginning of the day.
Shopping at a farmers market is great way to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, and even meats, eggs and dairy at some larger markets. It supports local farmers, allows you access to better products, and can save you money. Typically the fruits and vegetables at the farmers market were picked that morning, something you will not find at the grocery store. These items will have more nutrients in them than foods that were shipped for a week or more to get to the store. Shopping at a local farmers market is a great idea that I hope everyone takes advantage of.