So we’ve been making plans for the on-farm store in Minnesota. There is a small garage-type building right next to the house that looks ideal for the purpose, but it needs a bit of work, specifically, a new roof.
We’ve been thinking of an on-farm store for a while now, and that’s part of the reason we chose this farm in Zumbrota. It’s close to town, and right off the highway, making it convenient for our customers to get to our store.
Just think of all the times we won’t have to load everything in the truck, drive to the farmers market, setup, sell, take-down, drive home and finally, unload.
But there are a few less-obvious benefits of an on-farm store as well.
The first and foremost of these is the lower regulatory burden and it’s attendant benefits.
Selling your eggs to a Restaurant or Grocery Store? You’ll need to Candle, Grade, Pack and Label your eggs. And you’ll get paid a (lower) wholesale price for them.
Selling at the Farmers Market? You’ll still need to Candle and Pack them, but you’ll at least get a retail price for them.
Selling at your on-farm store? There aren’t any of those restrictions. Lower regulatory burden means we can offer lower prices too. We’re planning on offering eggs from the farm-store at $3/dozen. The same eggs sold at the farmers market will be $3.25 or $3.50 to account for the added costs.
With on-farm poultry and dairy, there are opportunities that simply don’t exist for farmers selling off the farm. There is simply no legal way for a consumer to buy raw milk or a chicken that was processed on-farm from a farmer who is selling at a farmers market or through a grocery store. Consumers get more choice and better prices, and the farmer gets more time to actually farm.
There is a bit of a sticking point with an on-farm store, and that is the big question: Manned or Unmanned?
We’ve been leaning toward Unmanned, and it seems that we’re in good company. While theft is always a bit of a concern, a large company has just helped us out by doing a bit of an experiment with the honor system.
This summer, Honest Tea conducted experiments in 30 cities to test people’s honesty.
We set up unmanned pop-up stores and asked people to pay $1 per bottle on the honor system.
Data was collected and we compiled our findings into the National Honesty Index.
Note that the worst performance was a pay-rate of 61% (Detroit) with only two cities coming in under 80%. The average pay-rate seems to hover just below 95%.
I can live with that.
More importantly, I can make a living with that.