Starting a Self-Serve Flower Stand

Starting a Self-Serve Flower Stand

Operating a farm stand is one of the most popular and accessible ways to sell flowers that you've grown. At Hidden Springs, I opened our stand in 2020 during my second full year of business. Four year later, it continues to be a major piece of the puzzle in my flower business in terms of both sales and marketing. 

Before opening the stand, known around here as “The Flower Shed”, I struggled to find regular sales, juggling commission-based sales at a local boutique, running flash sales on Facebook and Instagram and the occasional pop-up in our barn. I knew that I needed a more permanent and reliable way for customers to find (and purchase) my flowers while balancing my busy schedule as a mom and business owner.

A self-serve stand was the perfect solution. 

Throughout this post, I’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at operating a self-serve stand, plus some tips for starting your own. 


Building the Flower Stand

Ultimately a stand is a mini brick and mortar location for your business and since you’re selling a fresh, perishable product, the structure should be built with that in mind. 

My dad built the shed that I used and we included benches for vase arrangements as well as custom shelves that fit the metal floral buckets that I use for bouquets. We placed the shed and windows in a way that the flowers are not getting direct sunlight and are shaded for about 90% of the day. The window in back gets sunlight as the sun is setting so it's not the hottest part of the day. The windows are open so it stays as cool as possible inside with a slight breeze. 

Our shed is located at the end of our lane along a busy highway, which is great for marketing and visibility. Before building any sort of permanent or semi-permanent structure you'll need to get approval from your local township, county or state. In my case, we got a permit from our township to operate a farm stand along the road and place signage there as well. The only limitation I faced was a restriction on how far the stand needed to be from the road. You'll also want to be sure that your location is zoned appropriately for a farm stand. This will vary depending on where you are, but a quick call or visit to your local municipality should provide you with the answers. 

Flower Stand Signage

In a self-serve farm stand, signage is everything. Because you aren't there to communicate with your customers it's important to clearly post pricing, payment options and details for customers to reach you (website, phone number, email). 

In my shed I have a chalkboard sign with prices and payment options including my Venmo and PayPal handles. Both Venmo and PayPal have printable QR codes that you can post, helping customers to easily pay you using those methods. 

I also have a painted sign with my social handle “@hiddenspringsflowers”.  This is not only helpful for customers to follow and contact me, but many customers use the flower shed for a photo op and the sign is usually visible in their photos. I consider this a free form of marketing as their followers will see my business name/handle in the photo!

In addition to signage in the shed, I have a large business sign located a little closer to the road and also hang an open flag when I have bouquets in the flower stand. If you’re on a less visible road you might consider additional signage like the metal-post yard signs with directions to your stand. 

Payments at Your Flower Stand

Getting paid at a self-serve flower stand is likely the trickiest piece of the puzzle. The entire system operates on the honor system in lieu of someone manning the stand at all times. 

Clearly noted pricing is helpful in being paid correctly, and signage including your payment methods is key. In my stand I accept cash, Venmo and PayPal. 

A locked cash box is mounted to the wall in our flower stand. While I’ve not have not had issues with theft, it is wise to empty the cash box regularly. I know some farm stands make it easy for customers to make change; I've not found a smart way to do that so I keep prices in increments that people are likely to carry (say, $20). You'll also need to determine for your state whether you're allowed to include sales tax in the price or if you need to post the tax in addition to your prices.

The majority of payments these days are made through Venmo or PayPal. My handle and url are posted in the shed and you can also post the QR code that customers can scan.

Flower Care

In terms of flower care, first and foremost you'll want to be sure that your stand has plenty of shade for the flowers. On the hottest days of summer I do not stock the shed because even with shade, fresh flowers do not do well in the heat. During July and into August, I'll sometimes stock the stand first thing in the morning, bring the flowers back to the cooler mid-day and then set them back out around 5 PM, in time for after-work traffic. 

You'll also need to be sure that you have room for buckets of water for your bouquets. Be sure that the water is fresh, especially when your bouquets include zinnias, sunflowers and celosia (aka the dirty flowers). 

On typical day, I’ll fill the flower stand with bouquets first thing in the morning. Flowers are kept in the cooler from harvest until it’s time to sell, and any flowers left in the shed at the end of the day head right back to the cooler.  If they're not looking great I'll compost the bunch, and I would not sell a bouquet that has been out after 3 consecutive days; depending on the flowers sometimes less than that. Make sure that you are selling the freshest possible bouquets. Especially when you are not interacting face-to-face with your customers, you need to be sure that your flowers are speaking for you and that they're the best possible quality. 

Marketing the Flower Stand

Once you have a flower stand up and running, it’s time to spread the word. Social media is an easy way to spread the word, and it’s free! Post your open hours on a business Facebook page and share sneak peeks of your bouquets daily. If your town has a local Facebook group, that’s a great place to advertise your stand. 

In addition to social media, I’m a HUGE proponent of creating an email list and website as a means to communicate with your audience on your own terms. See this post for tips on getting started. Through an email list, you can communicate directly to your customers and share details on your flower stand, opening hours and pricing. A website is a great place to post flower care tips, inspiration and more information about your farm and business. 

Final Thoughts 

A self-serve flower stand truly is an accessible, affordable and popular way to get started in the cut flower business. Depending on your location, your flower stand might look just like my flower shed, or it might look completely different. By following the tips that I’ve outlined, I think you’ll find success no matter where you are. 

If you're serious about getting into the flower business, my flower farm coaching program includes a deep dive on setting up and running a successful self-serve flower stand. Throughout the self-paced course you'll receive an insiders look at how I operate my flower farm, from the basics of starting a small business to the flowers, foliage and fillers I plant, how I market my flower stand and run a successful bouquet subscription/CSA. The course includes downloadable resrouces including my seed starting and planting schedule, social media templates, email prompts and more. 

In the Weeds is designed to guide you through the early phase of a cut flower business through a combination of self-paced educational sessions and action plans with interactive group coaching and live coaching calls. Learn more about flower farm coaching here!

In addition to coaching, here are a few extra resources to get you started with your self-serve flower stand: 

 

Photography in this post by @tomrafalovich and @kristinesmithphoto.

This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support of our small business!

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