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)


Getting Help

If you can make it through a whole day without taking a single break – even one to go to the restroom – you should be in a book of records somewhere. Days can be really long and you need to take breaks, not only to go to the bathroom or to eat, but to hobnob with other vendors and see what the competition is up to.

If you have employees in your Cottage Food operation or family members who are of working age, this is an excellent first option. Friends can fill in at times, but they do have other lives and may not be able to be there when you need them most.

Working in a food booth is a real job. It requires sales and marketing skills, some business acumen, the ability to receive money and make change or process card orders, and it requires someone who is dependable. The business is in their hands when you’re not in your booth.

Plus, you can’t be in two places at the same time. A big order may keep you in your kitchen on the day the market rolls around. Approach any position for the role like any other job you need to be filled. Think about the terms of employment, what the compensation will be, whether the person will need their own transportation and whether they will need to do load-in and break down and how often you will need them.



You can’t hire someone and simply turn them loose. You want to train them in the way you and your business do things. They are an extension of your brand and your brand’s reputation. You want to set them up for success and slowly bring them into the business.

If they are a new employee and not someone familiar with your Cottage Food operation, start there. Show them what you make, how you make it, why it’s unique or special, why customers buy it, pricing, etc.

Have them work side-by-side in setting up the booth, merchandising it, preparing for customers, working with customers, including how to engage them and make a sale, what needs to be done to process and complete transactions, and then the breakdown process.

They don’t have to learn everything in a single day or weekend. They can’t. Let them slowly take on each step along the way, first with you instructing, then with you helping, and finally, with you in full supervisor mode, not lifting a finger so you can observe their process from start to finish.

If you have just one associate, you’ll need to set a schedule so that there is some overlap in the day. Perhaps you get there for the first shift, you work together during the middle of the day when things are busy, and then they finish up. This will allow both of you to take breaks, get a bit to eat, and extend the sales day without having to work a 10 to 12-hour shift.

As you work with them, teach them your merchandising secrets and the art of selling. Share your story with them so they can share it with others. Have them learn the products in-depth so they can tell others what’s in them, why it’s special, and, in the process, why you and your company are worth frequenting.

In this day and age, you may also have to teach them how to make change out of the till, a soon-to-be-lost art, it seems.

Every employee should know:

      • Where to find first aid, either the first aid station or a kit in your booth. You may want to pay for first aid/CPR training.
      • How to handle a security issue. Every worker has the right to feel safe at work. Teach workers what to do when they don’t feel safe or encounter a situation they are uncomfortable handling on their own.
      • Let them know your expectations regarding hygiene, appearance, behavior, and how to handle any physical aspects of the job (lifting, for example) that need to be done correctly and safely.
      • Make sure they know the rules of the market and who they can go to with questions.
      • Make sure they feel like they can have fun at work. Stellar customer service is essential to building your business, but making work enjoyable is key to finding and keeping great employees.

To that end, recognize and reward performance that is above the call of duty or your own expectations. Gift cards are a great way to go and are always appreciated.



Food Biz Academy

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Academy Staff