Friday, August 8, 2014

Up Close and Personal

Personal connection.  

It’s sorely lacking in our modern world.

In our highly automated society, we have lost touch with those who actually provide goods and services.  It’s entirely possible to go to the grocery, stock our cart, swipe our card to pay our bill and head back home without ever exchanging words with another human.  The same goes for the gas station.  And, even the bank. On-line shopping just continues the cycle.

Personal connection.

You can’t get much more personal than shopping at a Farmers’ Market.

Someone is bound to greet you…often by name and will gladly assist you in all aspects of your purchase. You may even be given food preparation advice or a little good-natured ribbing if you’re a regular customer.  If need be, you can even have your purchase carried to your car.

Then there are the other customers and random strangers.
Music and the pleasant scents of cooking food add to the ambience, making each Market a truly unique experience.
Human interaction is everywhere.

music at the Market

dining at the Market

Joe's bratwurst smells SO good!

Just as there is far more to farming than dumping some seeds in the ground or turning a bunch of animals out on pasture and hoping for the best, there is far more to good marketing the old adage “pile it high and watch it fly”. Personal connection can make or break a vendor.  There are other places where customers can get similar items, perhaps for a better price. And, for the record…the other old adage ”price it low to watch it go!”  doesn’t always work, either. (but, that is another post)
The personal touch brings the customers back because it makes them feel good…special…like they matter.

Relationships are key to direct-marketing.

A couple of years ago, a friend spent some time with us at the Market. It was a very busy morning. After he watched me greet customer after customer, he finally questioned, “do you know all these people? You’ve called them by name and had a conversation with most of them.” 

Yes…yes, I do.   I’ve been doing this a long time.

“Well, he said, "that must make shopping really special.”

Yes…yes, I think it does.

There is a reason I refer to them as our customer-friends. I really like these people! I have a unique occupation and thoroughly enjoy it.  …and we work hard to make sure those on the other side of the table know just how much we value their continued patronage. (it's not just us...other vendors know and appreciate this fact, too)
it's different on this side of the table

We know that they don’t have to shop with us.  But, they want to.  Partly because we have an excellent product line, but partly because of the way the Market makes them feel.

There are other venues for food shopping that are probably more convenient---the Market is only open on Saturday mornings from 7am to noon.

There are other venues where the food choices are probably cheaper---the Market tends to have unique items that are freshly picked and produced in small quantities, making the price point a little higher than the grocery stores.

But, the Market offers a shopping experience you won’t find elsewhere and we do our very best to make it special. Because the fact of the matter is…we NEED the customers far more than they will ever need us…and it’s up to us to maintain that personal touch that will keep them coming back.

I hope the Market makes everyone this happy!

I try to remember the Golden Rule when dealing with others…particularly customers.  You know…

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Sometimes that just means remembering someone’s name. It could be remembering that their child is allergic.  Maybe it’s encouraging them to try a new vegetable or recipe.  It might be relieving the anxiety caused by today’s fear-mongering in the media.  Or a pat on the back (literal or figurative) It’s probably a very small gesture that will go a long way in making someone’s day.

Not just to make a sale. 


because we are sincere and genuine in our concern for our customer-friends.

…and because Maya Angelou was right.

As market vendors, we need to keep this first and foremost in our minds.

**thanks again to T Leighton Photography for the great images**


  1. Exact same thing with being an acupuncturist.

  2. Yes Barbara, I agree about the personal connection thing. There is a mobile butcher who comes to our Friday market in our little town. He dry cures his own bacon and is happy to tell you exactly how he does it. Now he is making his own corned beef - I tried it this week - he told me how he did that too, and how much better it was than that bought in a tin. I shop there every week now because I can discuss the finer point with him.