The Egg Peddler

Old School Egg Marketing Revisited

The Egg Peddler

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a young kid in the 1980s, I remember our neighbor, Mr. Pangle, selling his farm fresh eggs at homes along our busy state highway. Although we had our own layers, my parents did occasionally buy a dozen from him. He was a modest man with a modest endeavor — one reminiscent of life forty years before my childhood. Before the large-scale commercial production of the 1940s, a batch of eggs came solely from someone’s backyard. Little did I know that many years later, I would emulate Mr. Pangle. 

Selling eggs to neighbors, or at a local farmer’s market, is nothing new, but today, you can even sell them online. However, in 2012 I decided to follow Mr. Pangle’s example and carry my merchandise around with me to drum up sales. It looked like a lot of fun and fresh air, though admittedly, there appeared to be a few flies in the ointment. Sure, there would be plenty of rejection, steady exposure to the elements, and a few neighborhood dogs gnawing on my legs, but adventure called, and I had to answer. 

Best Laid Plans 

Soon, I was making final preparations for the arrival of my eggs upon the local culinary scene. My eleven young Dominiques had come on nicely, laying a total of about ten brown eggs per day. I had decided upon a competitive per dozen price of $2.50, which was slightly less than average for cage-free, medium, grade A eggs found in the local marketplace of that day. I even collected many tall, teetering stacks of cartons; so many, in fact, that they covered the entire top of the refrigerator. (I’m afraid I had to cut back a bit after an entire stack fell on top of my wife’s head more than once. Not good.)  

Once everything was ready, it was time to hit the road and make some sales. I grabbed a large cooler bag as soon as I had collected a few dozen eggs and carefully placed the cartons inside. It was an interesting, new experience, even though my chosen sales method seemed a tad archaic. I laughed as I lifted the bulky burden, looking like a wandering peddler of trinkets and baubles to every passerby. I only hoped that I wouldn’t “chicken out” at the last minute. I had very little sales experience up to that point, and I still suffered from the occasional bout of shyness around strangers. That is when I decided that going to my friends and selling to them first would be a great test of my sales patter. 

Unfortunately, this plan did not work out so well. One of my friends expected a price break after presenting me with stacks of old, dusty cartons he had saved for many years. (Clearly, he had never gazed at the top of our refrigerator.) Another seemed to think that I should not charge him full price based solely on the fact that he is a friend, period, end of story. A third friend was certain that I had priced them incorrectly and decided that he would pay me only $2.00, instead of my stated price of $2.50. All three of them thought that they were helping me by simply making a purchase. Perhaps I have learned not to sell to friends. Who wants to risk any amount of discord in a friendship over something so silly as the price of a dozen eggs?  

Ready, Set, Sell 

From that time on, I sold eggs almost exclusively to people at work who were not close friends. The first one was Lloyd. Fiercely loyal, he convinced others to become buyers, too. His word gave me plenty of “street cred,” and sure enough, fellow employees sought me out on his recommendation. Everyone was willing to pay my set price, and most of them followed up with repeat purchases. They bought up all my eggs from then on, and just like that, my days of widespread rambling were over already. 

However, one day, another potential hazard presented itself. Lloyd seemed rather agitated as he informed me that another employee, Mick, was muscling in on my egg business. Not only had Mick undercut my price, but his eggs were absolutely gigantic, I was told. This kind of stiff competition from within the ranks could completely devastate my little side business, Lloyd worried. I was indeed curious to see what was going on, and it wasn’t long until I sneaked a look at some of them. From a secret location, I spied Mick showing off one of his freakish dozens. Not only did there appear to be a few double-yolkers, but I was fairly certain that there were some duck eggs, and possibly even goose eggs, as well. These monsters were indeed impressive, but to see them all squeezed together into a chicken egg carton with no chance whatsoever of securing the lid was a bit ridiculous. I couldn’t help but laugh as I crept away with my curiosity satisfied. As it turned out, I never again heard anything more about Mick’s eggs, and I did not lose a single customer. 

Homemade Eggs 

Sometime later, I actually did lose a customer for a completely different reason. Most egg buyers are used to factory curated eggs and are unaware of the variety of interior and exterior blemishes that naturally occur. To such people, an unexpected shell blemish or blood spot might seem like a harmless oddity or a rather shocking surprise. One gentleman from work found a blood spot in one of a dozen eggs he had just purchased from me, and the sight of it just about made him physically sick, he later told me. Unfortunately, the next one he cracked open also happened to have a blood spot. As it turned out, he was so traumatized by the disturbing discovery that he immediately threw away all ten remaining eggs. 

Over the years, I redirected my focus to other areas of poultry management, and my time for egg sales diminished greatly. Ultimately, I kept only one consistent buyer, and now that he has retired, my occasional egg sales are by special request only. Who knows? Someday I may jump back in with both feet, for backyard egg peddling was enjoyable and quite beneficial. Besides teaching me much of what I know about the marketing of eggs, the experience provided me with valuable insight into human behavior, helped me earn some extra cash, and even brought me out of my shell. 

MARK M. HALL lives with his wife, their three daughters, and numerous pets on a four-acre slice of paradise in rural Ohio. Mark is a veteran small-scale chicken farmer and an avid observer of nature. As a freelance writer, he endeavors to share his life experiences in a manner that is both informative and entertaining. 

Originally published in the August/September 2022 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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