Friday, May 21, 2010

Farmer's Market and Card-Readers

We have a very small Farmer's Market in our little town every Friday, which consisted of only 6-7 stalls. At least, there are only that many when I show up, which is first thing in the morning due to when my job lets out. I am sure that there are more as the day progresses. This morning I only had a few bucks on me and picked up 2 dozen eggs for $1.50 a dozen. Can't beat that price for farm-fresh, organic, free-range eggs. The strawberries that the woman was selling, $1.50 a pint for quarter-sized berries, looked wonderful, but I had not the cash on me and it made me stop and think.

How many sales do people like these lose on a daily/weekly/monthly basis due to not having enough cash on hand or check with them?

There are a great number of people who sell their own items in a variety of markets that rely on patronage with can or check only. Credit cards are not used at fairs, outdoor markets, street-side stalls, and so on.

The Square card-reader for the iPhone seemed to be perfect for this sort of thing when I first saw it, but when I got to looking, i realized that it would actually be more of a hassle. To use it, someone swipes their card through the reader attached to your phone and then you have to hand over your phone to them so that they can input their information and sign it. I can't see too many people willing to hand over their phone to a stranger during a crowded moment.

However, the new card-reader for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and many more phones seems to be perfect. It has a separate card swipe machine with a receipt printer so that your phone stays firmly in your hands, and allows your customer to leave with a printed receipt.

I know that if I were to sell something, anything, for myself I would invest in a phone and get myself one the above card-readers, preferably the latter. Why? Think about it. Today at the Farmer's Market, I only had $4 on me, but my debit card was in my pocket, wishing that it could be used. I walked away with only 2 dozen eggs and felt sad that I was not purchasing anything else that looked great. If I were able to use my debit card I would have purchased more eggs, strawberries, a bag of spinach and two bags of romain, and that is just from one stall. Out of the 6-7 that were there, 2 others were selling produce and I would have stopped at each if I had a way to do more than window shop.

How many people drive by a Farmer's Market, outdoor stand, or what have you and keep driving because they only have a few bucks cash on them? Checks used to be the way to get around this, but with the number of people choosing to pay their bills online, there has become a lessened need for checks in general. I know where I work, I see fewer and fewer checks every year. And with the credit card merchant rates on these phone readers, they are less than a traditional card machine. It makes sense for even traditional businesses to use these card-readers for their sales since they do not eat up as much of their profits.

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1 comment:

Shini said...

We have a large fruit and vegetable market down the street that is open year round and only sells local produce, as well as another market a few blocks away that is only open seasonally, both of which accept cash, checks and credit cards...the larger one even accepts food cards. I'm lucky in this respect, but I agree smaller farmers markets would see more revenue if they accepted cards.

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