Wayne Hanson, general manager of Your Local Ranch Ltd., said his family saw record sales in March.
“Certainly, the demand is putting high stress on everybody, but it is really good for our business.”
The farm has implemented a number of changes to ensure the health of its customers and staff during the pandemic, including installing signage asking customers to remain in their vehicles. Many customers have already placed meat orders either online or over the phone, Hanson said, and staff will deliver the order from the shop right to their cars, bringing a wireless debit machine to their windows so they can pay. The machine is sanitized after each use.
Customers that haven’t already placed an order can tell the staff what meat items they are looking for upon arriving at the farm, he added, and the staff will fulfill the order that way, as well.
“It’s not exactly what we’re used to, but it’s what’s working,” Hanson said.
Your Local Ranch Ltd. has also implemented order caps to ensure their stock stretches a little bit further.
“Our biggest challenge right now is to limit our sales so we can feed as many people in the community as we possibly can with the stock that we have left,” Hanson said.
So far, he added, customers have been very understanding and co-operative with the changes. The farm butchers every Wednesday, bringing in fresh stock for the week, Hanson said, and customers have been willing to return every week for meat.
During the pandemic, Hanson said he’s noticed a change in what items customers are purchasing. Many are adding what he called “comfort foods” to their orders – roasts and stews that require a lot of time to prepare. He attributes this to the fact that many people are confined to their homes with nothing else to do, and suddenly have the time to invest in preparing a more involved meal.
“How they’re buying is the way we used to buy when I was a kid,” he said.
Many of the efficiencies the store is finding through online ordering are beneficial, Hanson said, and will likely persist once the pandemic has passed. However, he said he misses the social interactions he used to have with each customer that came out to the farm.
“When you come out here, it’s kind of like a family affair, and people come out and most of them come for a bit of a visit,” he said.
With people waiting in their cars out of necessity, there is simply no opportunity for them to converse with the staff or tour the farm.
“They’re just kind of getting their stuff and leaving. They’re being very responsible that way,” he said. “In saying that, I wouldn’t mind the personal part going back to the way it was, but the efficiencies of online [ordering] that we’ve created through this has been quite good.”
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