Market Success Stories: Ohio City Pasta

Ohio City Pasta is a mainstay in the burgeoning Cleveland food scene, known for its handmade pastas and artisanal sauces, which are all- natural and made with care. What started as their mainstay booth at West Side market has now expanded to over 5 states and countless other farmers’ markets.

Ohio City Pasta was founded in 1990 by Gary Thomas, who just wanted to help other businesses who didn’t have the time, experience, or machinery to create their own fresh pasta. What they lacked, Gary had. He started producing pasta for local businesses, and eventually started selling at the unequalled West Side Market in Cleveland Ohio.

Ohio City Pasta is known for more than just pasta. They have an extensive array of fresh ravioli, all natural sauces, pesto, flavored butters, and more. They’ve sourced the finest flours and freshest spices available to produce some of the best Italian classics around. Gnocchi and tortellini are also popular items.

More than 20 years later, Ohio City Pasta has exploded. While still showing up week after week at West Side Market, they’ve amassed quite a fan base that could not be contained to a single shop. Top chefs have sung their praise and caused their audience to grow. You can now find OCP in grocery stores in Northeast Ohio, as well as a huge array of farmers’ markets.

They’ve listened to chefs and customers throughout the years on which farmers’ markets to exhibit their goods, and are currently visiting 21 different seasonal markets. Even some of your favorite restaurants may be serving Ohio City Pasta through their new distribution center.

Ohio City Pasta is another success story that started locally through farmers’ markets and small shops to make it big. Though unlike others, they have not forgotten their roots and continue to sell at markets across Ohio, as they expand even further.

Check out our other Market Success Stories like Utz and Pipcorn.

Market Success Stories: Vegetabowls

In past Market Success Stories, we’ve looked at well known figures like Pipcorn which reached national fame on Shark Tank. This time we will look a less well known artist, Melanie Mckenney. The creator of Vegetabowls.

Vegetabowls are gorgeous handmade bowls and plates that resemble fruits and veggies. What is now a full time business for her and her husband, started with simple trips to the farmers market.

She got the idea originally while teaching pottery in Boston when she used a cantaloupe to demo plaster mold making and slip casting. She then glazed it like a cantaloupe and when her husband saw it, he told her she should sell them, and call it Vegetabowls!

She soon sought out the best place to discover new fruits and vegetables to cast and found that location at the farmers market. In an interview with Etsy, Melanie described visiting the market. “It’s my favorite place to be inspired and get my creative gears going.” She goes on to talk about meeting all the local producers. “Being able to connect with the person who made a fruit or vegetable, and then taking it home and making something new from it—it just extends the creative process.”

Eventually, the market would also become where she would start selling her handmade creations – and the response was phenomenal. The support and customers from the market would allow her to start working on Vegetabowls full time, and eventually, her husband left grad school to put his time and effort into the business as well.

Now located in Buffalo, New York, Justin and Melanie operate a 2,000 square foot facility. Half of which is used for production and order fulfillment of their online store, the other half acting as a storefront for locals to come and create their own pottery.

In case you were wondering, the best selling piece, it’s a tie. Between the cantaloupe and watermelon. You can learn more about Vegetabowls and their business over at their online storefront.

Be sure to keep coming back for more market success stories, and if you have one of your own, be sure to share it below in the comments.

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

BoothBooks Vendor Tip #25: Payment Methods

There is no denying that now more than ever, technology guides the way we do things. In our world, we rely on it to get us through our daily life. For many of us, we have transitioned away from the almighty dollar and gone to the (hopefully) mightier debit card. Even something as simple as our morning bagel is now a technological experience. As vendors, it is important to stay up to date on the easiest ways to buy, and while it may seem like cash is the simplest way to go, you could be putting your business at risk by clinging to that cash register.

Thankfully, there are solutions, and as the technology grows, those options are easier to obtain. Debit and credit cards have changed the way we pay, but companies like Square and PayPal allow you to stay ahead of that change, by allowing vendors with a smartphone to accept payments via mobile card readers. This keeps your business from missing out on those last-minute sales when everyone has emptied their cash reserves after a long market weekend.

Even without cards, there are other purchasing options available to customers. Apple Pay is a great new way to allow businesses to accept a payment from an attached bank account. Customers can sync their Apple Watch or iPhone with their accounts, making purchasing even simpler. But what about our non- Apple customers? Programs like Venmo and CashApp let you send money directly between phones, and it is simple as a retailer to accept payments from customers, at no cost to you.

Although there are many non-cash options, we can’t forget about our green friends. After all, cash is king, and it feels good to walk away from a busy market with spendable profit. However, we must keep in mind that carrying large amounts of money can be risky, so it’s good to practice caution. Never keep more than $20 bills in your register, and try to only keep what you need to make change. Also, it’s recommended that vendors keep a sturdy safe or lockbox, preferably out of site, like in a camper or car, with the doors locked. No one wants to walk away from a day of sales with less than what they started with, so be vigilant.

No matter how customers choose to pay, it’s up to vendors to stay ahead of the ever-growing technology. Utilizing the resources that are available, retailers can keep up to date on mobile card readers, payment apps, and even Google for those newest fire-proof lock boxes.

Be sure to check back regularly for more great market tips!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handling payment history, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

How to Get Noticed Selling at Farmers Markets

When the average shopper wanders around the farmers market, it would be harder not to find someone selling tomatoes. The same could be said for carrots, lettuce, and other ubiquitous foods. Some vendors may corner the market on specialty produce like kiwano, but most vendors out there simply don’t have the means to stock them. So if everyone has the same produce, how do you convince shoppers to choose you, over your competition?

The answer? Sparklers!!

Ok. So maybe not sparklers. But the premise is the same. You need something to draw the attention of your potential customers. Whether that is by sight, sound, or smell.

Lauren Arcuri provides a great starting point for some specialty value-added products that you can grow on a small farm. This is a great way to stand out from the rest. Stuff can easily catch a consumers eye when it is different than all the others. If you’ve got 6 others selling potatoes, why not try selling fingerling potatoes instead? They are tiny, adorable, and delicious! People may be unfamiliar with them, drawing them in for a closer look.

Samples are also a smart way to entice people. They find out first hand how juicy those tomatoes are or how sweet that local honey is. Its hard to pass up! What’s more, it’s a lot harder to walk over to your competitor and buy the same product when they just tasted it from your stand!

One reason someone may not pick up some of your fresh fruits and veg is they don’t exactly know what they can do with it. “Why do I need this giant thing of ginger?? What could I even cook with that?” Source some great recipes, or come up with your own that allow people to be inspired!

If they see something that looks great, and you can give them a recipe on how to make it, why wouldn’t they buy from you? Even better, allow them to taste it! You could bake a fantastic sugar-free banana bread with that honey. Or mini cupcakes with strawberry rhubarb icing liberally applied to the top. These can be easily prepped ahead of time, and combined with recipes, are quite hard to pass up.

Alternatively, why prep things ahead of time? You can do live cooking demos at your stand. Either yourself, or have a chef join you for the day. Sauté up some fresh asparagus that will allow people to smell from a block away! That combined with the sizzling of the fry pan, and the visual of tossing them in the air are clear ways to draw in a crowd. Hopefully, when they walk away from your booth, they walk away with a recipe, and a handful of asparagus in tow.

All of these can clearly differentiate you from your fellow vendors. Allowing people to get the full experience of what you’re offering and giving yourself a solid competitive advantage.
If all else fails, pick up some sparklers!

BoothBooks creates best-in-class market management software. Easily handleing payments, vendor registration, layouts, reporting, and more. To find out more visit our website, or check us out on social media.

How to Make Vendors Happy and Keep Them Coming Back

Vendors are the lifeblood of any market. Whether a flea market, farmers market, or swap meet. They keep you in business, and shoppers coming back week after week (or month after month). So one of the most important things you can do to keep your market running smoothly, is to take care of those vendors. Here are three ways to keep vendors happy, ensuring they keep coming back.

Keep Vendors Engaged

A lot of times we focus on how to make things easy for shoppers. But we need to spend time on the vendors as well. They are your customers! So think of ways to keep them engaged and happy.

You could try a vendor loyalty program. Where the more frequently they exhibit at your market, the different benefits they accrue. It could be as simple as food at the food court, though feel free to have fun with it. Maybe discounts on rent, or entered into regular drawings for prizes.

Using a tool like BoothBooks can help by seamlessly tracking who rented a booth that month, and how many times. If you are awarding a “cash” prize as a form of account credit, that can be handled as well which encourages them to stay with you in order to redeem it.

In the end, rewarding vendors for staying loyal to your market keeps them happy and coming back time after time.

Make Things Easy

Why make things overly complicated? Especially for vendors who constantly return, it doesn’t need to be a drawn out process. BoothBooks keeps a running history of each vendor, and with saved payment info, you can make the checkout process a breeze.

Its important to make things easy for new vendors as well. That first impression will help shape the opinion of your market and you want it to be a good one. If they require something specific like electricity or a covered booth, you want to make finding any acceptable booth locations or dates quick and easy. The easier it is to rent a booth, the more likely they will be willing to do so in the future.

Give them Options

Instead of just a carte blanche option of a flat fee for every booth, make pricing more dynamic and have vendors more engaged in choosing the perfect booth for them. BoothBooks offers a powerful rules engine that allows each booth to have a flat rate, but certain attributes will affect the price higher or lower.

This gives vendors more choices. If they want the bare minimum, you have now a cheaper option for them. But if they want that covered, corner booth by the food court that includes electricity, each of those attributes can increase the cost. That helps out vendors, but also can increase your bottom line.

You also want to offer options for payments and checkouts. Whether check, cash, or card, It is more accommodating to potential lessees, but you need to be able to track that intake clearly and report on it in the future.

Making the checkout process quick is also key. It allows you to process more transactions and lower wait times (which keeps vendors happy). You can even look at allowing vendors to check themselves out. An online vendor portal that allows them to choose the booth of their dreams from home makes it easier and thus increases the likelihood of getting them into your market.

Roundup

They key to a great market, is great vendors. Giving them options, making exhibiting easier, and rewarding them for coming back can help grow your vendor base, and in turn, your market.