Lessons From the Farmers Market

On the weekends, Chris and I like to go to the farmers market on the Embarcadero by the Ferry Building.

I’m always finding something new to try. Have you ever eaten a pluot? I’d never seen them before moving to California (they’re a cross between a plum and an apricot). Pluots are absolutely delicious, fresh, and juicy. Chris’s favorite is the “dinosaur egg” variety.

The farmers market is crowded with booths, and each vendor is trying to outshine the others. Since many of the booths have the same produce, it’s essential for the sellers to find unique ways to attract customers.

I’ve noticed a few characteristics of the most successful booths, and these lessons can also be applied to your life.


When walking by competing booths, I always take a good look at the people behind the tables. Some sellers are smiling and joking with customers. They want to share their growing techniques and offer cooking suggestions.

Other sellers are playing with their iPhones and only barely look up when a customer says, “Excuse me?” They’re usually quick to give the stink eye to anyone with kids or dogs. Guess which booth gets my business? Yep, the one with the smiling employees.

Lesson: smile more and good things ($$$) will come to you.

Location, location, location

Paying more for a good location will get you bigger profits in the end. Sorry, but my feet get tired so I’m less likely to walk all the way to the end of the row of booths, especially if someone is selling the same thing closer to the front.

Also, the bakery booth next to the coffee shop gets more business than the bakery next to the stinky fish.

Lesson: always consider your location. Sit in the front of the room in class, during meetings, or at conferences if you want to be noticed by the bigwigs.

Give out free samples

There’s an amazing chocolate and nut booth at the farmers market that is always swarming with customers. They have employees handing out free samples behind the counter, on both sides of the booth, and scattered throughout the market.

The cost of the samples is nothing compared to the business they bring in. The sellers know that once you taste their product, you’ll want to buy it (and tell your friends).

Lesson: give something for free and you’ll get a good reputation and repeat business. Fitness trainers can give a free session, Web designers can give a free button, stylists can give a free consultation.

Mix and match

As a customer, I frequent the booths where I can fill a bag with a variety of different items and pay by the pound. The pluot booth that gets my business is the one with the sign “Mix and match! $3 per pound!”

It’s annoying and wasteful to have to separate the items into multiple bags or wait while they recalibrate the scale.

Lesson: make it easy. Consider your wardrobe to be “mix and match” and you’ll spend less time shopping for new things. Also, dinner parties are much more fun when you mix people from different groups.

This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.