Farmer Marketing

Simple, inventive ways to increase the value of farm fresh products through direct marketing, internet marketing, and creativity.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Government Regulations: Part I

Recently I have had a situation arise with government regulations that has really upset me. I hope that I can get some feedback from you, the readers, on how you have handled this in your situation.

How We Sell Tomatoes

About four years ago we changed the way that we sold tomatoes. We found that having a certified scale was difficult for two reasons. One, weighing every customer's tomatoes took a lot of time and led to a long line of people. Two, because the scale was being transported so often it often had to be reinspected so that the calibration was correct. Add in the additional expense of a certified scale and the yearly fee to keep it certified and we decided to find a better way of selling tomatoes.

The idea we developed was to sell our tomatoes on a "Fill the Pot" basis. We had two sizes of flower pots, one of which could be filled for $1 and the larger pot for $2. Customers hadn't used this system before, so we had a learning curve when we first started doing it. However, "Fill the Pot" became very successful for the following reasons:

1.)"Fill the Pot" was unique. We were the only vendor selling tomatoes that way and people remembered us for it.

2.)Customers were able to select exactly the tomatoes they wanted; size, color, ripeness, etc. This meant customers got exactly what they wanted.

3.)"Fill the Pot" was much faster and turned into somewhat of a game for our customers. They would pick tomatoes that were just the right size in order to fit more in the pot and get a better deal. They also learned to stack them up a little (which we were okay with) to get more. It was a fantastic system that worked for us and for the customer.

The "Problem"

Evidently our method violated a state statute regarding the sale of commodities. This past Saturday we had a government inspector come and demand we change. I'll explain the situation in my next post, but I hope to get some comments from you readers on how your state regulates farmer's markets and/or how you would handle this situation.