IT'S NOT EASY GROWING YOUR BUSINESS
WE THINK F&E CAN HELP
from permitting to insurance, taxes to promotions
we make selling at farmers' markets and community events easy
We like to think our farmers' markets help you to the next place. We aim to make growing your business easier. Why? Because we believe in the entrepreneur, the little gal/guy and the dandy dream. We really like good food, too.
Because of our really cool market model, we host upwards of 700 vendors a year at events throughout the Twin Cities. And F&E communicates with well over 1,000 prospective vendors each year. This is a lot of people, and although we aim to give you all the attention we can - this can be tough. That means that the below resources and information may come in handy when imagining and planning for your dandy food dream.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT US & SELLING
F&E & ITS MEMBERS
What is F&E?
We created F&E to support farmers, food producer and food trucks in making more money. We also take on businesses, musicians and nonprofits that foresee spending time with our customers, at our markets, as a terrific way to support community and our dynamic food scene. One way we do this is through creating farmers markets and pop-up markets. F&E is contracted through the Linden Hills Farmers' Market Board of Directors and its 501c3 organization to manage its market, and that of Plate & Parcel Holiday Market.
What type of vendors are F&E Members?
Farmers, food makers, food trucks, artisans and makers (registration is exclusive to some markets), cottage food producers and Department of Agriculture wholesale producers.
When should vendors become members and register? Do I sell what you want? We are always bringing on new vendors. There is no one time to start selling, and truly the best way for us to know if you are a good fit - is for you to formally apply. If you make food and want to grab the attention of an audience - then we want to know about you. Please note, we have opportunities for chefs to conduct demos, restaurants to sample, pop-ups at taprooms and elsewhere; plus we regularly get asked about catering. Put yourself on our radar and we will talk you up! To make this easy, and to streamline how you get involved in markets and at taprooms- we created a quick and easy approval process via our F&E Vendor Application.
What's up with the membership? Why is this required? Why do we pay a membership fee?
In addition, to helping us get to know you, your business and your point of view; we believe in covering our legal requirements and liabilities in advance of your participation with us. This means that you are pretty well covered, too. Of course, we must be notified immediately should any situation arise that calls into question these documents. The fee is because we find it helps us understand that you "mean business." Plus, we use these dollars to pay for the insurance for markets and events which helps to protect you even more. Also, F&E offers educational workshops, networking and other professional opportunities throughout the year. The membership fee helps offset these costs.
Can I apply if I don't have my >> insert any of the following here << State of Minnesota cottage food certificate, City of Minneapolis farmers' market permit, MN ST19 form, and/or insurance certificate?
Yes, indeed you can. Businesses can now become a member and register in advance of receiving their permits and insurance forms. This allows you to get registered more rapidly. All vendors are required to submit this information prior to selling at our markets. Also, businesses are now allowed to submit their insurance after they've been approved. We've heard concerns from prospective vendors about the costs associated with securing insurance prior to knowing if they are "in" and with this change we address this. In other words, although businesses are still required to have insurance to participate in our markets, they can now get registered before purchasing a policy.
Why do I need insurance? Where do I get insurance?
This is really, really important stuff. Insurance helps protect you in situations where an accident occurs during the course of your sale day or in a truly unfortunate situation where your foods make someone sick. Personal and business liability insurance for your food business can be had through your current insurance carrier (think auto, renters or home), or through the FLIP Insurance Program. Another local option for more customized coverage is to go through local broker, Beth DelaForest of Aspire Insurance. F&E is a big fan. Lots of vendors use the Minnesota Farmer's Market Association's policy. There is lots more info online >>.
Annual coverage usually costs between $150 to $250. All of our vendors are required to carry insurance with a $3,000,000 general aggregate.
SALES TAX FORM - MN ST19
What is the MN ST19 Tax Form and why am I uploading this to F&E?
I know this thing seems weird, especially for those of you used to selling foods. In MN we don't tax most foods, but some we do and in this case, the vendor is required to pay sales tax to the State. This form will talk you through this. Remember, that there are certain geographic regions, like the Downtown Improvement District, that has a specialized sales tax. And yes, the State comes a-calling for these forms from time to time. With that, I am legally required to have these on file at all times. You are legally required to compile with them, however. That is all you. This table is helpful in determining how this form applies to you.
Do I need to have a permit to sell food at your markets? If so, what permits do I need to vend?
All food makers (packaged food, food trucks, and ready-to-eat food vendors, cottage foods) are required to have a permit to sell or sample foods at our markets. This table is helpful when determining how this applies to you.
In general, the most common type of permit for our market vendors is called the "Seasonal Mobile Food Vendor Permit" and it is from the City of Minneapolis. This document walks you through how to apply.
The other most common permit is the MN Cottage Food Permit. You can learn about this permit here. This permit allows you to make some types of foods from home and sell at our marketplaces.
Farmers are exempt.
How does registration work? What happens after I register and pay?
If you are at the registration stage for any market or event - then you've already become a member. Registration is pretty simple once you've been approved. Our registration pages collect business name, contact info of primary seller, a quick sign off for any liabilities and payment of your stall fee. Without payment, your registration will not be accepted. We understand that a full season payment can add up quickly. If this is a challenge to you in your business, please contact us - we may be able to work something out.
After I've registered and paid, what happens next?
First, be sure to note your scheduled dates on your calendar. You'd be surprised how many folks forget to do this, and then miss out on sales opportunities when the date flies past them. Secondly, unless you hear from us, you can consider yourself registered for this event/market. Please note, lots and lot of logistics info is available on the registration page for the market you are planning to attend. We also have market logistics available under the FAQs tab. This information is typically available within a week of the series start day. In some situations, but not all, reminders may be sent via email, but logistics will always be posted online at the F&E website.
TENTS & SUPPLIES
What supplies do I need to vend?
We require you come prepared with everything you need to vend. This includes, a hand washing station (if sampling), weights, your own tent/tables, commercial extension cords with at least 100 feet, chairs, signage, etc. You also must be prepared to park in our designated vendor parking areas. The logistics pages include this information.
What type of tent do you require, when tents are required?
All tents should be 10' x 10' in size. This is an example of the type of tents that are commonly used. Vendors provide their own tents and weights. No tent can be used that is not properly weighted. Here is a good example of types of tents available.
Are tent weights required? YES. YES. Here is one type that is available. Businesses cannot set up and sell without tent weights. You will be asked to vacate the market premises if you do not have these on your tent at all times.
Do we have access to Wifi? Wifi is not typically available. We encourage you to make use of your cell service. Xfinity subscribers may be able to log on to the Xfinity mobile network for wifi.
Do we need to accept credit cards? Yes, it is heavily encouraged. We know from research and experience that customers purchase more when the vendor accepts credit cards. There are several companies that have services to help you accept credit cards. SQUARE Card Reader is the most commonly used. PayPal is another.
Do vendors have access to electricity?
Yes, vendors often have access to electricity. There may be an additional cost depending on the market that you are registering for. Your responsibility is to bring a 100-foot COMMERCIAL quality, outdoor extension cord to every event/market we host. We ask that you tape down your own cord with duct tape, especially those that cross public/pedestrian pathways. In some situations, vendors will be asked to provide their own generator.
HYGIENE & SAFETY
If I sample foods, raw ingredients and/or make a ready-to-eat products do I need a hand-washing station?
YES! More information on where to find this is available here. There are no exceptions, and you need the full set up. Vendors are responsible for the health and safety of your customers. Further, inspectors will be reviewing your arrangement and will fine you based on its use. For more information on food safety and farmers' markets, please read this document.
SCHEDULE, VENDOR ARRANGEMENTS & LOGISTICS
What happens when I need to change my schedule?
Unfortunately, we do not reimburse for dates paid, and are unable to swap dates. If you need to cancel, please email and let her know. This allows waitlisted vendors a chance to register. If you'd like to register for additional dates you can do that through the individual market registration pages.
How do I get set up on my first day of sales?
Our markets are changing up the way we situate our vendors. This may be unlike how you've been organized into a marketplace before. Often vendor location will be assigned first come, first serve upon arrival. When you arrive on site - you will be shown to your location. It's that simple. Check the FAQs pages for the market you've registered for more info.
Why we do situate vendors in a first-come, first situate way?
Instead of administration and vendor organization - our goal is to take those hours and direct it toward marketing. Promoting you and our events is job one.
Can I share a stall? With our market model we encourage lots of cross promotion and creativity in merchandising. With that, we will often allow vendors to share their space and sell collaboratively. Couple things with this. Vendors will need to apply separately and carry their own permits. Also, vendors must pay their stall fees separately. Please note, vendors will want to request a corner stall, and that means the manager needs to be informed of this request.
What if I've signed up for a market/event, but have never sold here?
Our FAQs tab includes all the info you need to set up and sell. Simply click on the market you've registered for. This includes load in/load out times times, parking, map of the location, promotional graphics and much more. Further, at the point of registration - lots of information is provided; such as estimated attendance, vendor compilation, requirements for merchandising and other pertinent information.
Do I have to attend the market every time it happens? Our market model allows for lots of flexibility. In fact, we discourage vendors from attending each and every market. Plus, who doesn't need a day off every so often? Instead, we like that our vendor compliation changes up from week to week. It's simple - our market registrations allow you to pick and choose your dates of attendance.
Will I be the only vendor selling a particular product, e.g. will I have the market cornered and all to myself?
Nope. We aim to create a dynamic, ever changing and competitive marketplace. You'll often hear our market manager say, "we create a market, not a monoply."
What does that mean? We may have 3 salsa vendors, 2 switchel vendors and 3 cottage food producers baking bagels. We believe in offering our customers a diversity of product and brands, much like a grocery store. Instead we encourage vendors to use their 100-square feet (10' x 10') of space to best showcase their products. In fact, in no other situation will you have this much space in a retail environment. Brand your space, think trade-show booth, home & garden show and boutique grocery store display. Use Pinterest as your muse. It's your job to tell our customers why you are different from the other gal/guy. Bring the fun! Be generous with samples, hone your sales skills and tell your story - a farmers' market is the best locale to be an entrepreneur. Go to town...ahem, market! This also changes how we accept vendors. Our curation is based on quality of product, and if you've got a strong point of view - interesting to our customers, they'll let you know and ask you to come back. Simple as all that.
How many customers does your market see each week?
This can vary greatly from market to market, neighborhood to neighborhood and venue to venue. On our registration pages - we post our anticipated audience. Weather and other situations not withstanding.
COST TO VEND
How much does it cost to vend each time? This depends on what you sell. Farmers (meaning you grow 100% of what you sell) start at $15 a day. Farmer Co-ops + Food Hubs (a group of farmers growing and/or selling together) start at $25 a day. Packaged Food Producers start at $35 a day. Food Trucks start at $55 a day. Ready-to-Eat-Food Producers under pop-up tents start at $40 a day. For more information on registration/stall fees for each market, please go to that market's registration page.
ARTISANS, BUSINESS SPONSORS, MUSICIANS, AND NONPROFITS
I'm a musician - can I play at your market? Of course. We ask that you apply just like any other vendor. Please apply via our application process and submit your $35 fee. Once applied, you can register just like any other vendor using our registration forms.
I don't sell food, instead I sell arts & craft wares and/or vintage items. Can I apply?
In some situations, and for some markets we accept artisan vendors. If you are interested in selling at either the Linden Hills Farmers' Market or Plate & Parcel Holiday Market, you will apply and register via Minneapolis Craft Market. MCM is a company similar to F&E, curates our arts & crafts vendors for many of our markets. Please reach out to them.
I'm a nonprofit community organization - can I request a stall? Yes, indeed. We ask that you first become an F&E member and then register just like any other vendor.
VENDOR SOCIAL MEDIA & PROMOTIONS
We require that all our vendors use social networking. Why do we ask for this? We all need to chip in to tell our story. The more we do this, the more times our story is told. The more eyes on the prize, the more feet in our marketplace. If you don't promote yourself, your products, your participation in our market - we are unable to support your time at our market. I'm sorry, but to keep our costs low - to reduce the amount of paid promotions we all need to pitch in. Plus, you'll sell more.
How will I be alerted to new opportunities as an approved F&E Vendor?
We have a few ways we talk at you. Our vendor newsletter is one way, the other is through our Facebook Group Page.
Got other questions? Have you done your homework & need different answers? Please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
OUR MARKET MODEL IS DOING IT DIFFERENT
Why we do what we do. How we do it.
What we expect from you in doing it.
Our markets are unique in that we engage early adopter customer types. We know that farmers' markets are faltering, and we are seeking and hosting vendors ready to challenge the normative profitability of traditional Twin City markets.
We do this by
By propelling our successful vendors on to the next place. Be that through wholesale sales, co-packing, more farmers' markets or by introducing them to professionals that can support new growth.
LHFM is just one of our markers - we operates several farmers’ markets and pop-up event markets in the Twin Cities; creating lots of opportunities for you to grow new and different customers.
We are always trying out and affecting new hybrids of pop-up markets; combining ready-to-eat “under tent" foods, packaged foods, food trucks, select farmers, vintage dealers and carefully curated arts + crafts traders from Minneapolis Craft Market.
Low-cost and affordable stall fees are super important to us. It's expensive enough already to develop your start up - we don't want to add to the burden.
Hosting fewer farmer vendors than other marketplaces (only 3 or 4 on an average market day), thus creating real profits for our grower businesses.
Appealing to early adopters, overly, often and much.
Further, our markets meet the needs of a customer demographic that are situated in dense, walkable and consumer friendly neighborhoods. Individuals and busy families want produce, proteins and value-added foods that are true to how people cook today - meaning for every night in, two meals are take-out. If you think you can add value to this - then we are thrilled to bring you in.
Critiques that bother the hell out of us:
The “we can’t do this” critique is bullshit. To be clear, our market model is about creating more value for your products. We want our markets to offer a real service, and our vendors to exemplify this. We believe our vendors gain a dedicated customer that returns and is willing to pay more for quality.
"We like to minimize risk.” Risk is what happens when every other vendor is offering exactly the same type of product, and selling it in exactly the same type of way year after year after year. By refusing change you risk your business with stagnation.
We know any good grocer/marketplace above all offers a service. As communities and competition changes - farmers' markets must change. We also hear - "we like to minimize risk.” Risk is what happens when every other farmer is offering exactly the same type of produce, and selling it in exactly the same type of way year after year after year. By refusing change you risk your business with stagnation.
Why we do it this way:
Customer competition is fierce as people are buying foods in new, dynamic ways and being catered to more directly than ever before (online sales and home delivery for instance).
Eaters are also seeking foods in new varieties, new flavors and in different quantities.
We hear lots of complaints that farmers’ markets aren’t meeting the needs of modern shoppers (not to mention wholesale buyers). Frankly, we want our markets and vendors to compete in these spaces and not simply “give up.”
As we’ve seen it - farmers’ markets in the Twin Cities are failing and farmers and food producers are being forced to leave direct sales in record numbers. F&E believes we can counter this by challenging our market producers - that means we all need to do better, to be more cost effective in choices, stretch our technological ability and product compilations.
Most importantly we promote constantly and do it better than the next guy. Our request for more dynamic food makers and farmers is in this vein.
We work closely with RED Market to help farmers and producers diversify their customers with wholesale opportunities. RED is an online marketplace for chefs and grocery buyers to purchase directly from our vendors for a low percentage fee.
If this describes you - we'd love to learn how we can best support you.