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Fruit markets offer customers an inexpensive option for purchasing fresh and local fruits and produce.
Who is this business right for?
Individuals who have farming backgrounds or are currently farmers, have worked in grocery or produce markets, or have a passion for supplying fresh, local fruits and produce to the public will potentially find the greatest success in this business. It is critical that you understand the product you’re selling and have the connections in place to offer the best possible selections and quality.
What happens during a typical day at a fruit market business?
Day to day activities at a fruit market are dominated by customer service and re-stocking your store’s fruit and produce. If you are selling fruit grown by other farmers and orchards, coordinating deliveries and orders will also be part of the daily schedule. If you are selling your own farm’s fruits, harvesting and stocking will be a large part of your day.
What is the target market?
Your target market will consist of consumers looking for fresh fruits and produce at low prices. You will attract both residential shoppers, as well as chefs and cooks, looking for fresh or local alternatives.
How does a fruit market business make money?
A fruit market makes its money from the sales of fruit and produce to retail customers as well as local and regional restaurants.
What is the growth potential for a fruit market business?
More and more customers are searching for healthy and cost effective options for their groceries. A fruit market offers both of these options to consumers. Fruit markets tend to also be fairly low cost to run. Additionally, many communities are trending towards support for local and regional businesses. As long as you have a regular supply of fruits to sell, growth potential should steadily rise.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful fruit market business?
A successful fruit market owner should have great experience in the cultivation and preparation of fruits and vegetables. Education in or time spent working in the agriculture industry will be quite beneficial.
Since you will be interacting with the general public, experience in retail or grocery store management will also be helpful. You should also have experience in small business finances.
What are the costs involved in opening a fruit market business?
There are a few options for the type of fruit market you might open. Costs will vary accordingly, but should be relatively inexpensive to get started. If you set up a roadside stand, your overhead costs will involve the construction of the fruit bins, a temporary structure to cover your produce from the elements and the fruits you are selling. If you are operating from a farmer’s market or other permanent location, you will need to include the monthly rent on a stand location or an actual brick and mortar location. For all types of locations, your fruit costs must also be factored in, whether you grow your own or buy wholesale from other farmers. In addition, you will need a business operating license and business insurance.
What are the steps to start a fruit market business?
Once you're ready to start your fruit market business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your fruit market business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your fruit market business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a fruit market business?
Advertising is always a necessity for alerting the public of your presence. Make the most of social media and a business website. Both mediums give the ability to spread word of your business, both locally and beyond your regional area.
Consider joining fruit and produce associations, such as the National Association of Farmer’s Market Nutrition Programs or the Produce Marketing Association. Affiliation with these types of groups helps establish your reputation, as well as a networking system among other farmers and fruit and produce market owners.
How to promote & market a fruit market business
As mentioned previously, advertising and marketing via social media and a business website gives you access to a large audience. You, therefore, have to make sure you make the most of your opportunities. Kink your website or Facebook and Instagram accounts with other local related retailers and entrepreneurs and any local or regional organizations who are active in your community. Remember, the idea with all advertising is to familiarize the public with your “brand” or name. Frequent activity on social media will help build the recognition factor and will help direct people to your location.
There is also the option of creating and buying signage and billboard space, if you have the finances in your budget. You can even print or paint your own signs as a-frame and roadside bandit and/or lawn signs. These can be quite effective locally, especially if you choose to operate a roadside fruit market. Either way, the additional signage will help potential customers find your location and shop your wares.
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How to keep customers coming back
Your customers are your business’ life blood. Without a consistent stream of customers, your operation will suffer. That’s why it’s so important to build individual relationships with your regulars. By creating dialogue and familiarity with your customers, you will in turn build trust and a strong reputation for great customer service.
The other part of this equation is your fruit and produce quality. You should constantly strive to have quality fruits, a good selection, and fair, competitive pricing. Inspect your harvest or shipments and work as a quality control element for what you offer your customers. And, as a reward for their continued patronage, offer your return customers pricing specials or seasonal “freebies”, now and then. Small concessions can lead to big wins.
How and when to build a team
For the fruit market, one or two people will be able to effectively run the shop successfully. You may want to add a few more employees, as your business grows, or you open additional locations. It’s best to operate with as few employees as you can, when first getting started, in order to maximize profits.
Federal Business Licensing Requirements
There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to, sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business: How to Start a Food Business
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a fruit market business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Certificate of Occupancy
A fruit market business is generally run out of a storefront or standalone. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a fruit market business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your fruit market business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department; all establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspections
How much can you charge customers?
Pricing for the various types of fruits you sell will depend on seasonal availability and market or competitor pricing. You will want to research how much other fruit and produce markets are charging and look to match or beat those prices, when possible, while still maintaining profitability for your own business.
What are the ongoing expenses for a fruit market business?
A majority of your operating costs will reflect the cost to stock your shelves and bins. If you are buying your fruits from farms and wholesalers, your overhead will be the market costs. If you are selling your own fruits from your farm and/or orchard, your costs will also reflect the money spent cultivating and growing your products.
How much profit can a fruit market business make?
Fruit market profitability can fluctuate, depending on your location within the country, fruit and produce availability, and customer support. Annually, profits can range anywhere from $25,000-60,000.
How can you make your business more profitable?
In addition to selling fruits and produce, you can consider selling related foods and spices. Honey, cane syrup, fresh herbs, canned fruits, jams and jellies, and baked goods such as breads and cookies are also good ways to increase your sales. Ask customers what they want or are looking for and aim to fill that niche. Often, customers are searching for unique items not available in supermarkets or chain stores. Your market can begin to service the needs of the public and support locally owned business growth in your area.