Starting a roadside produce stand

Years ago, there was a small fruit and vegetable stand next to the road that I traveled to and from work. It had high quality produce and I stopped there quite often to buy some.

Starting a roadside stand takes some planning. You’ll have to abide by your local laws and then decide how you will entice potential customers to stop.

Kent Wolfe is the director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia. He says the more offerings available, the better luck you’ll have.

"We actually have some people who have pick your own tomatoes and pick your own squash to go along with their stand. And it’s a good idea if you can, to have some ready-to-eat items there as well. It might be something they can grab and eat in their car," says Wolfe.

And of course – location, location, location. It plays a huge role in how successful your farm stand will be. Spend some time observing traffic flows in your area. Wolfe suggests setting up next to a thoroughfare near a popular destination such as a park or beach, and have good signage to bring people off the beaten path. Also be sure there’s ample room for parking.

The structure you sell out of depends on how much you want to spend on it.

"We see stuff anywhere from just a simple pole barn facility. But you want to have something that people can get out of the sun and the rain if that does happen, if it’s a really hot day, or if it’s raining, or inclement weather. You also want to give them some shade so they’ll come in and maybe talk, and browse around a little bit," he says. "You want to make it comfortable for them. And also try to reflect the image of your farm."

Shoppers are more likely to form a positive impression of your market if products are high quality, clean, and nicely displayed.