Small space, big impact

Features - Marketplace

Try these merchandising tips for farmers market sales.

November 27, 2013
Crystal Cady

flowers displayIt can be a struggle to effectively merchandise small spaces. Through merchandising, the goal is not only to create a lasting impression on customers, but to encourage purchases and future visits. That being said, it isn’t about the amount of space you have to work with, but how you use it. This spring we decided to take our product right to the ground floor through participation in the local farmers market. Knowing we were going to have to make the most out of a 10 x 20 space, we set out to create a strategic plan that would yield big results – and it did. Here are five tips to help guide you toward maximizing your small retail space.

Give your plants a great seat

A great seat doesn’t have to be the most expensive one in the house. While it is important to display your product on benches and tables that exhibit similar quality to the plants you are offering there are many options out there, especially if you are willing to put a little time and elbow grease into it. Using display tables that are neutral or gray in color allow brightly colored foliage and flowers to stand out. One such option is to build simple cedar benches or shelves.

Think vertical

By displaying items at various height levels instead of on one single table, you not only maximize space, but you create something that is visually attractive for your customers. Using vertical space to display items allows you make the most out of every square inch and improve your product offering. However high you decide to go, it is important to take note and not go above the customers’ heads. If your product isn’t within their sight line, it will likely be overlooked and can lead to lost sales.

merchandise plantsBe organized

Although energy and creativity play a large part in visual merchandising, all would be lost if organization went out the window. In a small space, customers spend a limited amount of time browsing your product. It is important to give them an understanding of what you are offering while making it easy for them to shop. Group your product by the different categories you are offering, and include an area for what’s new. Customers always seek the new and exclusive, and these are often great opportunities to garner buzz for your company and product.

In addition to being organized, it is important to keep your small space clutter-free and inviting to customers. If a customer feels your display is crowded or difficult to shop from, they will likely walk right on by.

Stand out in the crowd

A dull, pale looking display isn’t going to stop anyone in their tracks. Eye-catching color not only gets customers’ attention, but it draws them into your display. Color can also add depth to a seemingly small space, making it more inviting and exciting. Another way to create a strong impact in small spaces is to group items of like colors; this is not only pleasing to the eye but highly visible from a distance.

Use props and signage

In an information-driven era where we can never get enough, it is important to provide customers with visual cues to get your message across. Props such as a mannequin that convey “high-fashion plants” or a rustic wheelbarrow that symbolizes nostalgia provide an opportunity to connect with customers based on their interests.

Creating beautiful, informative signage is another way to communicate with your customers. Aside from the usual general information and pricing, signage is a great way to allow customers to visualize and connect with your brand or merchandise. It’s an opportunity to be creative while giving your plants a personality and voice.


Crystal Cady is a horticulturist and owner of Sunflower Acres Farm & Garden, a retail nursery in Salem, Ore. Crystal can be reached at