Building a Roadside Market
Building a Roadside Market

Building a Roadside Market

by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture


A greater profit can be made from homegrown produce if it is sold directly to the consumer. Consequently, a roadside stand can be a practical, as well as profitable, way of selling fruits and vegetables.

A roadside market also offers advantages to the consumer. For example, the quality of farm fresh produce is superior to much of the produce which has to move through normal marketing channels and the relaxed atmosphere and personal service make such shopping more attractive.

Although roadside marketing offers an excellent sales outlet, advance planning is necessary for a successful operation. Such factors as the number of potential customers passing by the stand, available display and parking space, and nearness to water and electricity should be considered before building a roadside market. If these items are available or nearby, a roadside market is an excellent way to sell homegrown produce.

Building a Roadside Market
Figure 1


The volume of business will determine to a great extent the size and type of facilities needed. Other factors such as the type of produce offered for sale and the length of time the market is to be open will also be considerations in the initial planning.

A temporary structure is a wise choice when starting a roadside market because a year or so of roadside selling may change the operator’s mind as to the type of structure needed.

Only a small stand is needed when a short season operation is expected or when only one or two crops will be sold (Figure 1). Larger stands are needed where there are long growing seasons and/or where a large variety of volume of produce will be sold (Figures 2 & 3). A clean, well-kept stand, regardless of size, assures repeat business.

Building a Roadside Market
Figure 2


To preserve quality and reduce losses, adequate refrigeration is required for certain types of produce. A cooler space, such as a walk-in refrigerator, is usually necessary for the success of a permanent market (Figures 2 & 3). Refrigerated display cases are a good means of merchandising very perishable fruits, vegetables, and eggs, although ice can be used in small markets until the volume is large enough to justify mechanical refrigeration.

Building a Roadside Market
Figure 3


A storage and work area for the grading and packing of produce is essential and should be considered in all roadside market plans (Figure 3). This area should be located so that unnecessary walking and handling of produce is eliminated. By preparing produce for market near the stand, business is stimulated since the customer has the opportunity to observe the actual operation. Extensive and elaborate equipment is unnecessary for the beginner and commercial grading and packing equipment need not be considered until the volume of business justifies it.


Location of the market is very important. Select a spot for the building that is well drained. Be sure rainwater drains away from the building and parking areas to eliminate wet spots.

A pole type construction is the simplest and most economical type of structure. Walls can be either plywood or vertical boards nailed to 2 x 4’s between the poles. Pressure treated poles are recommended.

Floor. A 4-inch concrete floor is desirable for a roadside stand. This floor should slope slightly for drainage purposes when the market is cleaned. Clean gravel is satisfactory for a temporary floor and customer walk areas.

Roof. The roof can be constructed of metal or other common roofing material. A single sloped roof is the easiest to construct with eave troughs to drain water away from the customer areas. Wide roof overhangs keep customers dry and provide a shady shopping area.

Ventilation. An open building or screen walls provide good natural ventilation. This allows cool fresh air to circulate through the market.

Doors and Windows. All doors and walkways should be at least 3 feet wide for ease in carrying and handling heavy boxes or produce. Window openings must be large enough to show all produce. Hinged window covers should open high enough to be out of the way and they should be narrow enough that they can be opened and closed easily by one person. These window covers and doors should lock securely for protection of produce during the operational season and to protect against vandalism during the winter.


A supply of clean water is desirable for washing and cleaning produce and for cleaning the market building.

Good lighting is a must. If all produce cannot be easily seen under natural light conditions, or if nighttime operation is planned, electric lights should be installed. The cost of artificial lighting can pay for itself many times.

As the market grows, modern restroom facilities may be added. They are a courtesy to the customer and they provide a place for the operator to stay clean and neat.

A water fountain that is clean and attractive will promote business and be inviting to the public.

Tables and chairs in a shaded area may increase sales by providing a place for people to eat the produce they buy at the stand.

Such things as scales, a cash register, and an adding machine are necessary when doing a large volume of business.

Building a Roadside Market