Farmers’ Market Tips & Tricks

Denisse Padillo and Mustafa Karabiyik of Boochman Kombucha in San Francisco took to the stage at KKON24 in Reno on Thursday to share tips and tricks from their successful farmers’ market strategies — accounting for 75% of their sales.

Their Direct to Consumer tactics included sales at schools, church events, reunions, birthdays, fairs, and festivals. In the first years of operation they literally turned no request down. They started with two farmer’s markets. This increased to 10 during the pandemic. They have now settled of a rotating series of seven farmers’ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here’s the tips they shared.

Get your name out

If you called us and said, I have a party, can you bring kombucha, we were there. We did the Turkey Trot foot race, we did reunions, weddings, church holiday fairs, and anything that you called us for; we were there. That’s our biggest recommendation for new brands: get your name out. Let people know who you are. When people see you as a brand, they want to support you.

Have a clear brand

The people who organize these events want you to be organized. They want your booth, however you’re presenting, to be clean and to make sure that you look put together.  We wanted to have a brand that was clean and memorable. Don’t assume everyone knows what kombucha is. If we had a dollar for every person that asked us if we’re selling coffee, or if it’s beer because we sell it in kegs, we’d be rich already!

Be organized

Organization is key when prepping for markets or special events. We have checklists, market bins, and special event bins. We always make sure we know which flavors we took the week before. We are a seasonal company with seasonal brews, so we need to know which fruits are in season.

I think the most important thing in having a successful farmers market business is the organization. Make sure you have every certificate printed, laminated so it’s waterproof, and in a binder. And every year or every six months go through and make sure everything’s up to date so that you’re not in violation because the health inspectors can visit at any time.

Understand demographics

Some markets did not work for us. Consumers there are  not looking for  kombucha. Now, we visit the markets prior to applying. Seeing what the demographics are in that area and then deciding if it’s worth it. The process to get into the farmers markets is extensive and you don’t want to waste months waiting for an answer and permits, only to find you don’t succeed in that market.


In our first year, we were invited to set up our booth at a Turkey Trot foot race. We did not know that they also invited GTs and they was handing out free samples. That did not help us sell any when GT is there giving free 16-ounce bottles of kombucha.

Direct to Consumer

The main reason we chose to do farmers’ markets was because we like to be directly in contact with the consumer. We felt that we were building a community. We still to this day say that if we didn’t have the farmers’ markets, I think the pandemic would have shut down the tap room and we would have been out of business. We love being in the farmers’ markets simply because we get immediate feedback from the consumers. And so now we’ve been doing it for so long, they’re even saying like, hey, when are you bringing apricot kombucha? You haven’t brought it this year.


So this is how we looked when we started. This is our first day at the farmers markets. We had  a very minimal setup. It was not just the booth. When we started, we did not know that you needed to get insurance or anything about the business side of it. We didn’t realize what the application and certificate process was and that you had to pay a stall fee and designated spot.

When they began, they thought they’d just show up with a booth and sell the product. They now understand the importance of key business issues.


Insurance is super important because you will obviously have staff working for you and accidents happen. So get vehicle insurance. And staff insurance. And liability insurance.

We have been sued before. And that thankfully we had insurance and that took care of it.

We found that many Bay Area insurance providers are not willing to insure kombucha because it’s a live culture and stuff like that. So that was one of the biggest struggles we had. Having farmers’ markets and special events usually requires $100,000 coverage. We now have $1 million coverage for farmers’ markets.


You need a business license. This does not require a brick-and-mortar location. You just have to have a mailing address in the name of your business. In California, we are required to have a PFR (Processed Food Registration) license. It took forever to get the PFR because they wanted us to be certified like a beer brewery, and we were not doing beer. We also have an organic certification, which took us about 18 months to get.

Then you have the farmers’ market application. Meet the folks at the farmers’ market’s information booth. Go there, give them samples, introduce yourself, and then ask if you can apply.

We’ve established a very good relationship with the health inspectors. I make sure all of the permits are in a binder, our PFR, everything is there.

Branding and signage

People know us because, for years, we’ve been putting up our sign that says where we’re from, our name, and what we sell. We include our Instagram and Facebook handles.

We post our schedules on Instagram, including the markets we’re going to and the flavors we have. Instagram reels, polls, and stories that people can re-post help.


Our markets require staff who can work Saturdays and Sundays from 5 a.m. to about 2 or 3 p.m. Our people need to know when they are expected to be there to set up. We clearly show what flavors in cans and on tap they will be selling. I show them a picture of the booth and say that this is how I expect it to look across the board at every market today.

They need to understand the POS system. We provide them with an iPad and everything that they need to sell. Be sure you stock supplies. Do not count on your staff to tell you that they ran out of soap, that they’re out of paper towels, that they’re out of cups. It is our job to make sure all of the bins are fully stocked and everything is ready to go for the market. They get clean tablecloths. Their iPads are fully charged. Their cash boxes have exact change.

The benefit of a POS system—we use Square—is reporting. For example, you’ll find in farmers’ markets a lot of the vendors want to barter with you. We tell our staff, you can barter, but it needs to be recorded, because we need to know what flavors are selling.


Placement in the market is really, really important. It’s something that we’ve gained over time. At one point, we had three markets where we were front center, and we had another kombucha company trying to sell all the same markets and they were off in no man’s land and they pulled out because they weren’t making any money. And we were making a lot of money.

You need to understand that markets have different areas. There is one for produce, one for packaged products, and then the food court. Usually, we are in between packaged products and the food and drink area.


It helped that we established a community through special events. That opened the door for us to get into markets. But in the beginning, we knocked on so many doors to get in. We struggled for a few years to try to get an established business. But now we do have the luxury of applying at farmers markets who accept us based on our reputation.

Then, it’s super important to have a clean presence to be consistent and to be able to break down and do your setup in a timely fashion. We can demonstrate that we bring in many people in the market.

Content courtesy of KBI.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *