When I first started flirting with the idea of running my own roadside honey stand, it was mostly just a romantic idea. But the more I thought about it, the more I got excited.
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But I also had reservations, ‘Why would people buy my honey?’ Don’t worry, we always think that about something new and it’s never true. I’m going to give you the key elements you need to confidently run your own roadside honey booth.
To be clear, I do not sit at my booth all day, every day waiting for potential customers. No sir. I use the honor system. Let me tell you how I operate my booth and then we’ll cover what you need to get your own cash flow starting soon.
I open my booth for 24 days out of the month. Which means there are about 5 days that I am closed.
My daily routine
The first thing I do is go down the street to the main highway where I have my roadside honey sign. This sign is designed to grab the attention of people driving by and bring them down my street.
Fortunately, I’m only a couple hundred feet from the old highway. On the sign I make it clear whether I’m ‘Open’ for business that day or ‘Closed’, as you can see in the picture below.
Then I go back to my honey booth, take the honey out of my Jeep, and stock my booth.
I like to specialize in rare and uncommon honey varieties. So I usually have at least three varieties available for my customers.
Each jar is clearly labeled with its name like Sourwood, Wildflower, Millet Honeydew, etc, and also a price sticker. Then each variety is placed on its own shelf.
This year I have added my wife’s postcards to the booth. They are small prints of her oil finger paintings. And I would like to take a moment to brag that my wife is a Fine Art Oil Finger Painter. You an actually see her work at hollyhargus.com.
After I have stocked my honey booth I leave it alone. I usually check it periodically throughout the day to see if I need to restock anything.
At the end of the day I go back, mark my roadside sign as Closed, lock my honey and postcards in the Jeep, collect any money from sales and call it a day.
How to make it all work
The 4 elements you need to successfully run a honey booth
1) Roadside honey sign
2) Honey booth
- must protect from rain
- shelving for honey
- information displays
4) and possibly a security camera
First Element- a roadside honey sign
You’re going to need something to draw the attention of your customers. Depending upon your location, you will either need to bring people to you if you’re close to civilization or you will need to find a location closer to higher traffic areas.
You can get really creative with this or you can buy premade signs that stick into the ground.
Second Element- the honey booth
The second, and probably most important element is the booth itself. I decided to Google images of this for my design. Whatever you decide to come up with, make sure that your honey booth includes the following features:
- Must protect your goods and customer from rain fairly well.
- Shelving will help to distinguish different varieties of honey from one another. This will make it easier for your customers to make a decision and find what they want.
- Information displays are helpful for communicating with your customers to know things like the following:
- How the honor system works. (Read my sign 2 pictures above).
- Upcoming honey crops.
- Hours of operation.
- When will you be open or closed?
- If you accecpt checks like I do, they need to know how to make it out and to include their phone number
- And one final thing you may really enjoy including is a Guestbook. I love reading where people are from, what they bought and even how much they have enjoyed the experience of coming to my booth.
For example, I have tons of people always looking for Sourwood honey. And rightly so, it’s one of the highest demand honey varieties in America. However, last year the Sourwood trees did not produce any nectar. No one made Sourwood honey.
So I have included a sign letting people know that we will have Sourwood honey in late July of this year (hopefully). I also like to let people know what plants were involved in going into their Wildflower honey.
I like to let my customers know that I appreciate them. This is very important.
Third element- a lockbox
Possibly the worst fear of all that keeps people from trying an honor system method of making money is the possibility of being robbed.
This happened to me. Early fall of 2018, I went to check on my honey booth one afternoon. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that my neatly arranged jars of honey were sitting in disarray.
Two of my most expensive jars of honey were missing, $40 worth of honey. Then I went to check my lockbox. The mock hive where people drop their money had been wrenched from its place. Someone had hit it hard trying to get the money inside.
The thing is, I had not made any sales that day. There was no money to steal. That was the last day I was in business that year. I felt like I had been violated. What kind of bastard would steal from hardworking people?
It didn’t stop me. I’m back in business this year. I’ve reinforced my drop box and installed a security camera. Which is the fourth element that you may want to consider.
Fourth element- security camera
I will not show you my security camera for the sake of maintaining its secrecy. But I have incorporated my security camera in such a way that hopefully blends in to the surroundings. I use a game camera.
Technically, it can be seen but it is out of reach and would require extensive tools to steal. And even then, the camera itself is locked. I check the pictures on a schedule. Sometimes it’s enough of a detterent when people know they’re being watched.
As of this writing, today is the first day of the year that I have reopened my honey booth in May of 2019 and I’m really excited about it. We’ve already had a repeat customer from last year buy $20 in honey and 2 of my wife’s postcards!
And you can do it to! Find a design that you like for a booth, you can even use the one I’ve created. Just be sure to include the elements I’ve mentioned:
1- a roadside honey sign to attract people to where your booth is located.
2- the honey booth itself by incorporating shelter from rain, shelving for each of your products, and information displaying when you’re open and what they can expect from you.
3- a lockbox where your customer can pay securely as possible, keeping your money safe.
4- a security camera. And don’t be afraid to let your customers know that the booth is under surveillance but do so in a non-threatening way.
I used a clever rhyme that shows my appreciation for honesty while also letting them know their face is on camera.
I hope you take what I’ve given you today and incorporate it into something unique for you. You can do this and be successful. Imagine your first jar of honey sold, or beeswax candle or whatever. It’s so exciting!
Don’t let thieves keep you from living. My neighbor offered me these words of wisdom, “No matter what you put a lock on, it only keeps the honest thieves away.” So true 😉
If you haven’t seen my new children’s educational picture book then don’t miss out! Every mom that reads it tells me their children love it 🙂 Get your own copy at the link below…and thank you!!
Thanks and remember until next time,
~Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!~
Jonathan Hargus/Beekeeper Extraordinaire