Tennessee farms are selling more and more farm products directly to consumers. One method used by farms to make direct sales is nothing new: roadside stands.
“A roadside stand is a temporary facility set up to sell products at a roadway or another heavy traffic area,” said Rob Holland, director of the University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture. “It is usually located away from the farm.”
“Producers can gain several marketing advantages from roadside stands,” added Megan Bruch Leffew, marketing specialist with the CPA. Farms located away from main thoroughfares can improve the convenienc e of their location. There are no specific volume, packing or grading requirements, and producers can set their stand’s schedule. Roadside stands can also serve as a test market for new farm products.
Even though there are no packaging or grading requirements for a roadside stand, appealing product displays are also important, said Leffew. Regular days and hours of operation are helpful in developing repeat business. “The roadside stand helps brings the products closer to the consumer, so it’s important to be there when customers are expecting you,” she said.
Roadside stand location also has its challenges. “Producers should be sure to ask permission to use the property and be prepared to address owner concerns about changes in traffic flow and liability,” said Leffew. In areas like parking lots, property owners may require a fee for setting up a stand on their property. Some cities or counties may require a permit to set up a stand. Contact the county clerk’s office to determine whether local regulations exist.
Roadside stands, like farmers market and other popular direct marketing channels, require a producer to make a number of small transactions with many different customers. Some growers hire employees to staff a roadside stand in order to focus on growing and harvesting their crops. Producers should also evaluate the costs – in both time and money – for each marketing channel.
For more information, see UT Extension publication “Choosing Direct Marketing Channels for Agricultural Products” (PB 1796) at your county UT Extension office or online at the UT Extension publications website: extension.tennessee.edu/publications. Enter “PB1796” into the search engine. For additional publications on direct marketing, enter that term into the search engine.
More information about the CPA and its services are available online at the center’s website: ag.tennessee.edu/cpa
W. Alan Bruhin