How to Start a Roadside Produce Stand: $1000/Weekend Flipping Peaches

ByMargie D. Moore

Jun 26, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Shannon Houchin

“Nothing puts a smile on a consumer’s face quicker than a good peach.”

And it turns out, flipping produce can be quite the profitable side hustle! ($3000 in one weekend from one stand before we recorded.)

Shannon Houchin reached out to me and said, “Nick, you’ve got episodes on flipping books, mattresses, clearance products, domain names, flea market finds, and a ton of other stuff — but have I got a side hustle for you: I flip peaches.”

So, of course, I had to call her up to learn more.

Turns out Shannon has been doing this for 10 years and has scaled up to 100 roadside stands at once.

Whether you’re looking for a way to make extra money on the weekend, or to scale to something larger, Shannon has a compelling case for starting a roadside produce stand.

Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to hear:

  • how to find suppliers and price your produce
  • the best places to set up your stand
  • some of the common mistakes to avoid

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Why Peaches?

“The reason I chose peaches is because it makes people happy,” Shannon told me.

Shannon explained that making her customers happy and giving them a level of satisfaction they can’t get in a grocery store environment is what prompted her to sell peaches in the first place.

“Nothing puts a smile on a consumer’s face quicker than a good peach,” Shannon added.

flipping peaches for profit

Sourcing Inventory for Your Produce Stand

Shannon explained that whether you want to sell peaches or some other fresh produce, you don’t have to source your inventory locally.

Shannon puts the quality of her produce before convenience.

She’s spent a lot of time sampling peaches from all over the U.S. and sources the best peaches, regardless of where they are grown.

Shannon said she sees herself as a “peach curator” and a “peach dealer”. It’s part of her service to provide the best possible peaches and educate her customers on where they came from.

She admits it’s a little more costly to ship in the best peaches, but said it doesn’t matter.

If she’s providing a high level of expertise and authority — and of course, the best tasting peaches — customers are willing to pay for that.

Connecting With Produce Suppliers

Shannon said she forms a “very personal connection and relationship” with all of the orchards she works with.

All of her suppliers are family-owned and run businesses. Shannon goes out to meet with them personally before agreeing to sell their produce.

There is a small window for peaches to be harvested through the summer, and Shannon said forming these strong relationships helps her secure quality produce.

It also helps to have a passion for the produce you’re selling, Shannon told me.

Pricing and Target Profit Margins for Your Roadside Stand

“My comfort zone is three times what I’m paying at wholesale,” Shannon told me about how she prices her produce.

This margin gives Shannon enough room to cover some of her produce going bad or not selling.

However, Shannon said anyone looking to sell produce should do their research and see what the highest and lowest prices are locally.

Don’t be surprised if Walmart is selling below wholesale price as they often do this as a loss leader to get customers through the doors, Shannon explained.

On the high end, depending on where you are in the country you should check out Whole Foods, Wegmans, or similar stores.

This research should help you price your produce for what it’s worth and find a margin you’re comfortable with.

Ask For “Seconds”

A little “hack” Shannon shared when looking for the best price from an orchard is to ask the supplier if they have any “seconds”.

Seconds is the term for the produce that isn’t quite perfect enough to send out to grocery stores.

The fruit is still perfectly fine to eat. It may be a little off-color or an odd shape, but suppliers will sell it at a “drastically lower price” than their main produce.

Suppliers will typically only ship seconds to brokers locally as they have lower margins, but it’s worth asking about.

Story Telling Selling

“Never, ever underestimate the power of telling a good story around what you sell,” Shannon told me.

Shannon explained that if you know the history of the produce you’re selling and you have a good story, “you can basically charge whatever you want.”

This is why Shannon cultivates the practice of “story telling selling” in all of her roadside stands.

She also develops a “cheat sheet”, which lists all the information for the produce she’s selling.

This could include:

  • Where the produce was grown
  • The name of the farm
  • The type of soil it was grown in
  • What it tastes like
  • And so on

This enables her to command a higher price while educating her customers and seeing them walk away happy.

In fact, Shannon said she probably charges the most for her peaches in the state of Texas.

But her customers leave happy and return to her stands over and over again.

Certifications and Requirements to Start a Roadside Stand

Each state has its own certifications for the sale of fresh produce. Shannon said the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with these requirements.

There is also a difference between flipping produce and operating as a wholesaler or running a retail store.

A roadside stand will count as a retail store in some states. So, you’ll likely need a business license and a permit to operate a roadside stand.

Shannon said a good place to start is by contacting your zoning department and checking with them as to what permits or licenses you need.

Shannon refers to herself as a seasonal vendor, if that helps. However, some states will refer to the business model as an itinerant vendor or a peddler.

Can You Start Small?

If you wanted to dip your toe into this side hustle without a large upfront investment, Shannon said you can absolutely do that.

A lot of people Shannon works with start with $300-500 and start out selling produce on the weekends around their day jobs.

You can even commit to only reinvesting the money you make. So, you can start with something like $300 worth of peaches, and when you sell those you buy more with your proceeds.

Shannon said you’ll see a “snowball effect” as you start to sell more produce.

What is the Best Location for a Roadside Produce Stand?

“My preferred place to locate a peach stand is in a busy convenience store parking lot,” Shannon told me.

Shannon likes convenience stores because they tend to pull people from a radius of a few miles, and they have a constant flow of foot traffic.

Produce like peaches are complementary to what a convenience store sells, too. So a lot of customers are going to be interested.

Shannon said it’s also a reciprocal relationship with the convenience store, as she’s able to bring them more business.

Arranging to locate your stall in a parking lot starts with a conversation with the convenience store manager.

You’ll have to negotiate a rate, but to give you an idea, Shannon said she’s always maintained a base rate of $25/day.

You can pick any convenience store, but Shannon said she prefers to work with mom-and-pop convenience stores.

She said a lot of mom-and-pop stores are being squeezed out by the large chains, so Shannon likes to do her bit to help them out.

Marketing Your Produce Stand

“You want to be visually as attractive as possible,” Shannon told me when I asked her about marketing her stands.

roadside produce stand

Shannon explained that at least 80% of people who come to your stand will do so on an impulse.

So, you want your tent or whatever you’re using as your stand to be as eye-catching as possible.

Shannon puts up large banners that simply say “peaches” on them. She also has some flags displaying the American flag and some of her produce to help catch the eye of passers-by.

Mistakes or Surprises Along the Way

“I think I have made every conceivable mistake that you could do with perishable produce,” Shannon told me.

Shannon has over and under ordered produce in the past and had her fair share of peaches go bad before she could sell them.

Shannon explained that she had to learn just-in-time ordering. This is an inventory strategy that revolves around ordering the number of peaches she expects to sell just as she needs them.

This is something sellers need to learn for themselves as they get a better understanding of how much produce they can sell.

But if you do end up with too much produce, as Shannon sometimes does, she recommends doing a “scratch and dent” sale.

This basically means she’s letting customers know that her produce isn’t perfectly ripe and she offers a discount.

Shannon said that what usually happens is that customers then buy her discounted produce in bulk.

You also have to keep in mind that you’re going to be handling a lot of cash.

Shannon explained that as she added more stands she needed better accounting controls in place to handle cash.

She also had to develop good banking relationships to explain why she was depositing large amounts of cash on a regular basis and make those transitions smoother.

What’s Next?

Selling peaches is a seasonal business, but Shannon has been able to turn this into a year-round full-time business.

During the pandemic when she was locked down, Shannon started putting together a business blueprint documenting everything she’s done in the roadside stand business over the last decade.

Shannon has since started training and teaching people how to run their own produce stand businesses, as well as scaling up the number of stands she has.

Shannon also uses her skills to do some other things within her local community, like coordinating festivals for some of her local municipalities.

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You’ll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.

Shannon’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

Never be afraid to ask for what you want.”

Links and Resources from this Episode

  • Monetize Media — Subscribe to the all-new Monetize Media podcast to learn the proven traffic and conversion strategies to scale your online business!

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