Ahhh, the Bloomington farmer’s market, a thing of beauty. I’ve worked at the farmer’s market for two years, and the charm of the place still isn’t lost on me. Air full of the smells of pastries and coffee, folky songs drifting through the air, and the best part, all the dogs! Okay, so maybe they’re the second-best thing, right behind all the farm-fresh veggies, flaky croissants, free range eggs and milk, and Indiana strawberries, because um, yes please. Here are my top five favorite ways to hack one of the best parts of Bloomington’s summer.
1. Be nice to your vendors!
Show some Midwestern hospitality to the lovely vendors out in the hot sun on an early Saturday morning, and you’ll probably get some love (and savings) in return. Seriously, this is about the easiest thing you can do, and often times, just being nice, talking to the people you’re buying from, and showing genuine interest will mean you’ll get some kind of discount, or maybe something for free!
2. Go toward the end of the day.
If waking up at the crack of dawn to drag yourself to a place full of people isn’t your style, I have good news for you. If you come toward the end of the market (I’m talking like noon–please don’t show up at 1 PM and be disappointed when we have everything packed up and just want to go home), vendors are going to be more likely to want to get rid of their remaining products, meaning you can score some discounts. You probably won’t see a huge variety and it may be a scramble to get some of the more popular items at the market (like the stuff from these amazing farmers), but hey, you get to sleep in AND spend less money!
3. Don’t be afraid to take your time and compare.
Chances are, as long as you’re looking for something more common (like, croissants or strawberries, rather than Feast’s glorious tamales), more than one person is going to have it at the market. Do not fear, sweet Bloomingtonian, there is nothing wrong with taking the time you need to help you compare quality and price! Trust me, no one is going to be offended if you choose someone else’s strawberries (which are pretty much the best fruit ever, btw). That’s just how the market rolls. Think about your wallet, and take your time searching for what your heart desires
4. Bring your own water and snacks.
This may seem simple, or maybe even common knowledge, but this can save you so much money if you’re planning to be in the sun all day shopping around. Normally bottled water and drinks at the market cost anywhere between one to four dollars (plus, bringing your own bottle is better for the planet!), and food costs even more. Save your precious cash and don’t buy the first thing you see to soothe your screaming stomach by bringing an insulated cooler with some water and skin-saving snacks!
5. Try your hand at bartering.
I know, I know, you’re looking at that tip and going “Why would you even suggest that? You’re going to make people hate me. The title of this article was not ‘5 Hacks to Make People Hate You.’ Why.” But just hear me out! Sometimes, we know we’re selling things over-value, and if you’re nice, or persistent, or reasonable, or all three, we may see things your way and relent, allowing you to name your price for some pretty snazzy goods. If you’ve got your eye on that $4 cookie and think you could get it down to $3 (because we’re in college and every dollar counts), give it a try! Save your precious $$$$, y’all.
Now that you have the hacks from a farmer’s market insider, you’re free to go explore the glorious world of Bloomington’s best outside shopping venue in all its wonder. Save money, make friends, support local businesses, and enjoy being part of a Bloomington tradition!