Sunday, October 15, 2017

East Lansing Farmer's Market: Part I

I did not work outside this weekend due to the rainy weather.  So, I went to the East Lansing Farmer's Market to see marketing ideas in action.

A couple of things that are immediately noticeable are that the two ends of the market are anchored by vendors who demonstrate a genius for display:  Owosso Organics and Tomac Pumpkins.

Owosso Organics
Right (south) side.

Left side.
Walking into their booth you first see ruby, red tomatoes on the right and cut flowers on the left.  Business was slow and the proprietor was gracious enough to give me a couple of minutes of his time.  He said that they were very deliberate in where they place every item.  The right side of the booth gets more natural sunlight and simply makes the tomatoes explode with color.  The left side is cooler and treats the cut flowers more gently.

Right side.

Left side
A little bit deeper into the booth are many, gorgeous vegetables.  Note that the less vivid vegetables are on the left (dimmer) side and are lower than the brighter veges.

Right side
Left side
And these are in front of where you pay.
Let's look behind the scenes.

The circled items are supports used to create a stair-step effect where all produce is displayed to maximum advantage.

Why tilt the boxes the peppers are in?  Because the level of the produce drops as customers buy them and they disappear from sight if the boxes are not tilted.
Virtually every vendor told me I picked a horrible weekend to visit.  We had intermittent rain squalls and blustery wind clocking between due north and due west.  To a person they told me that their displays looked MUCH better on sunny days.

The upside was that most vendors had a little bit of time to talk to me.  The blustery weather kept many of the customers away.

Tomac Pumpkins

More of the stair steps.
This display is eye catching.  It is an eclectic mix of colors and shapes and textures.  It is also "mounded".  The table cover is seasonally interesting and the items being displayed are large enough that they don't disappear due to the camouflage effect.
The stacked pumpkins have an implied verb, a hanging question:  When will the gusty wind knock them down.  The proprietor keeps things interesting by sticking in the occasional "thing that does not belong".  For instance, there is a tall, green gourd immediately in front of the blue coolers that adds and elegant, vertical element to her composition.
These two vendors pull the causal pedestrian into the market.

Even with no sun the honey looks great.  How does Applegarth Honey do that?

Disposable, white, plastic table covering.  He started using it because honey makes a sticky mess.   He used to put more product out on the table but found it sells better with less product and wider spacing.  Spacing the product allows light to penetrate and creates back-lighting.  The bottle that is upside down near the rear of the frame is the "free samples" bottle.

Another thing he learned is that labels don't sell.  Product sells.  The smaller the label and the higher on the bottle, the better the product looks.  In fact, if you look at the first photo you will notice that the labels are turned AWAY from the customers.
Maple Syrup
I tried to remember to ask, "What is your 'signature' product."  Mr Droscha quickly pointed out his bourbon barrel aged maple syrup (on the left) and his vanilla cinnamon maple syrup (on the right).  The packaging on the vanilla cinnamon maple syrup is worthy of comment.  The square bottles and the real corks are eye catchers.
These are some fancy bottles.  Great products and great packaging.  One thing that is effective about this display is that he fanned out the bottles like a card hand rather than ordering them in a straight line, one directly behind the other.  I cannot help thinking that a plain, white table covering, at least on the horizontal surface, and slightly wider spacing between bottles would draw more attention to the product. 
Will write more later.  This was simply first impressions.

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