How to Start a Produce Business

A guide to starting a home produce business, including converting a pickup truck to produce truck, what to buy and where to buy it, pricing, and where to sell your produce.


| May/June 1975



033-016-01

Possible conversion for a pickup truck to a fruit-vegetable truck.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

With food prices what they are, it should become increasingly less difficult to convince people that vegetables are the best buy on the market today. The economics of the way most Americans eat will catch up with them sooner or later . . . and some of them will then discover that a fruit-and-vegetable-based diet is much more than just a bargain.

That in itself is reason enough to go into the produce business, if you've been considering a small, low-overhead enterprise as a means of liberation. There's more to this occupation than good financial prospects . . . its aesthetics can get you higher than a kite in a desert.

The basic idea of my produce business is to buy fruit and vegetables at wholesale cost and sell them wherever I can. On weekdays I work door-to-door in neighborhoods where I have established routes. My customers appreciate the delivery of fresh produce (at road-stand prices) direct to their homes, and I enjoy the benefit of a paced, predictable income. On a given summer weekday, when I'm offering no specially priced leader items, I can expect to make a profit of $30.00 to $50.00.

Then there are the weekends . . . when business prospects are unlimited. Fairs and festivals, centennials, holiday picnics and gatherings, motocross and road rallies, and sporting events of all kinds abound in the summer. I've done a good trade at rock concerts, rodeos, art fairs, and craft shows. You can sell just about any place your imagination and salesmanship can get you into . . . and expect to make $75.00- to $100-a-day profit.

I started in the vegetable trade with a Ford Econoline and $80.00 cash. With some concentrated effort and very little time, I built up my income to a $100-a-day turnover . . . working only on the days I chose. Careful buying and distribution give me a high level of control over my profits: The amount of money I make depends directly on how much of a truckload I buy and how much effort I put into selling. I've found no other work situation in which I felt my income was regulated so fairly.

Getting Started in a Home-Based Produce Business

The formula for a produce business is simple, really. You'll need the following:





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