Unmanned farm shop has ‘honesty stall’ for payment

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An unmanned farm shop which trusts customers to voluntarily pay for goods has warned thieves they could end up as chicken feed.

The busy Christmas rush has meant staff at Knowes Farm Shop are unable to get to their stall at the whynot? artisan indoor market, also in North Berwick, more than once a day to replenish stock.

Knowes Honesty Shop. Picture: contributed

Knowes Honesty Shop. Picture: contributed

Instead they decided to have an “honesty stall”, where customers are asked to take what they want and trusted to pay what it’s worth.

And to make sure people stuck to the rules the owner produced a light-hearted “instruction video” – which also warned of the consequences of dishonesty.

Owner Ian Baird, 31, said: “When Adam Elder and Jenny Potter, who run the market, asked us if we wanted to take over an empty space we knew we didn’t want to miss the chance, but at this time of year we’re already stretched really thin. However, I remembered reading about a man in Ireland who’d been successfully running an unmanned “honesty” stall for years, and thought I’d give it a try.

“It’s something that a lot of farms do, but I think it actually works better on a stall – there’s likely to be more customers around to keep an eye on each other!”

To make sure everyone is up to speed, the owners and staff made a video called Honesty Shop, which aims to educate customers unfamiliar with the brave system.

The mini-movie, which was shot on an iPhone, only took two days to make, with Mr Baird editing it on his laptop.

The two-minute silent film explains the unusual shopping process, how to weigh and pay and, of course, what happens to customers who decide to shoplift...

He said: “We thought a little video might help promote the business and make sure people know what to do when they come in. We had the idea to make a comedy film, but on the first attempt the acting was really awful and the script was terrible. So we decided to make it a silent, information-type movie.

“We wanted to end on a laugh, so we decided to end with a shoplifter being thrown over a fence and ‘fed to the chickens’.”

However, he’s happy to report that in reality no one seems to be falling ‘fowl’ of the company.

He said: “We’ve been here for about three weeks now and it’s been fantastic, it’s really restored my faith in humanity. When I was restocking the other day a woman actually put more in the honesty box than was due because she said she thought the produce was worth it. Lots of the staff have also reported seeing people coming in, dropping money in the box and then just going to walk out again. When they’ve asked them why, they’ve said because they’d been in the day before to get stuff and hadn’t had enough money at the time.”

The film, which can be viewed on our website, also appears on the farm’s Facebook page, where it has been shared and liked several times.

One commenter said: “Hilarious! BAFTA?”