Lesson 5: The Food Booth

While a Cottage Food business may work for you in the beginning, branching out into a local farmer’s market street fair or festival can give your sales a big boost.

In this lesson, we’ll look at options and opportunities to grow your business.



The Food Booth

Booth Basics (continued)


Making your booth sales friendly

Some people like to create a U-shape of tables where customers have to walk into it to engage. Others like to keep the tables facing the traffic aisle so that the space behind can be used for storage and support items such as a booth supply kit, extra ice (you’ll thank us on a hot day for this tip) and extra marketing materials and products.

The choice is yours, of course, and you may want to experiment occasionally to see what booth layout works best for a particular location, time of year, or product mix. You’ll also want to experiment with your product arrangements.

      • Depending on what you’re selling, you may want to invest in acrylic cases for baked goods and tiered display stands for chocolates or other smaller items.
      • Be sure that you mix your merchandise. You may want to move your fast sellers into a “back” row and move new items forward.
      • If the customer can’t instantly get what an item is or what flavor it is, be sure to add signs so you don’t have to answer the same question over and over.
      • The same is true of prices. A customer shouldn’t have to ask what an item costs. They should be able to see it. And if there is a discount for buying more than one, make that known too.
      • Booths can get really busy, and if a customer has to wait to ask a simple question, they may just walk away.
      • If you have samples, add a sign that says, “Ask for a sample.” You don’t want to make them available to every looky-loo that walks by or feeds a bunch of hungry kids. This is also a chance to start a conversation.
      • Think about investing in tables with adjustable height legs. The added height will be appreciated during a long day and you can even set up one table that’s higher along the front and a lower one on the side to add visual impact to your space.
      • Add a table skirt to your outward facing booths. If your budget allows, get your logo printed on it.
      • Don’t forget the holidays! Prepare special items for major holidays and decorate the booth accordingly. Make sure that décor is culturally sensitive. You don’t want to turn away customers because you found some great decorations that aren’t perceived as you meant them.

Other Considerations

As you plan your booth space, don’t forget some other important items.

      • If you are selling by weight, make sure your scale is easily accessible and that you have extra batteries.
      • Have a small garbage can for your own use in your booth. Put it below one of the tables.
      • If you’re going to be standing a lot, think about a padded mat. Standing on pavement can be exhausting. For times when you need to sit, think about bringing a barstool or similar high stool to sit on so that customers don’t have to look down to speak with you. There are some great folding stools out there that are portable and comfortable.
      • Leave room for your business cards, brochures and any promotional info you may have. Customers may not buy today, but if they have your contact information, they may tomorrow.
      • Prepare a supply kit that has duct tape, markers, index cards, basic first aid, post-its, some basic tools, some extra rope and anything else you think you may need to use when you’re far away from home.
      • If you are selling year-round, remember to bring along something to keep you warm, dry, or cool. Forgetting to bring a heavy coat or not having any ice on a hot day can make it a very long day indeed.

Accepting Payments

Be ready to accept payments. Some people are still all-cash and if you’re not ready to make change you may lose out on a sale. Have a simple cashbox on hand for those who think currency is king.

People spend more if they can use credit, so be sure that you can process payments using debit or credit cards. Shoppers may also want to shop using Apple Pay or Venmo. These days you can use a car reader on your phone to allow customers to swipe their card, but increasingly, people are using digital payment options and want to simply tap their cards and go. Toast, Shopify, and Square are just a few of the many options out there to accept mobile payments.

You don’t have to offer every payment option under the sun, but you do want to see what your customers want to pay with and adjust accordingly. Just remember that many credit card companies or intermediaries will take some of your profits in the form of service and transaction fees.



Food Biz Academy

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Academy Staff