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Self-service shops | Buy your products, pay and go!

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Buying products from the farm and agricultural producers completely independently is now possible thanks to self-service sales, a concept that is gaining more and more followers in small municipalities.

The idea is simple. The customer goes to the kiosk or the shop. Without the help of an employee, he chooses the products he wants, calculates the total of his purchases and pays using a terminal allowing debit or credit transactions, thanks to a jar of change left on the counter or by bank transfer.

Self-service is slowly starting to take hold in Estrie, where there are several producers who have adopted this type of new type of business because of its simplicity and the fact that it does not require labour.

  • Flavora's self-service shop, open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., allows you to pay by debit, credit or with a coin jar.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Flavora’s self-service shop, open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., allows you to pay by debit, credit or with a coin jar.

  • Flavora sheep's milk yogurts

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Flavora sheep’s milk yogurts

  • Flavora's sheep's milk gelatos

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Flavora’s sheep’s milk gelatos

  • Flavora's self-service shop is located in Compton.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Flavora’s self-service shop is located in Compton.

  • Annie Viens, co-owner of Flavora

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Annie Viens, co-owner of Flavora

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This is particularly the case of Annie Viens and Maxim Paré, co-owners of Flavora, in Compton, which has been making sheep’s milk yogurts and gelatos since 2019. It was in Vermont, where eggs are sold in small refrigerators on the side of the road, but also at some market gardeners in the area, that they found the idea that could meet their needs. “We wanted to do direct sales, but we couldn’t afford to have someone full-time,” explains Annie Viens, who records 10% of her sales there, while the proportion was 30-40. % at the height of the pandemic.

Same story at the Fromagerie les Broussailles, in Martinville, where the self-service sale of goat and sheep milk cheeses has been practiced since last June. Also inspired by their neighbours, Julie Labrecque and Jean-François Clerson opted for self-service when they moved their cheese factory. “With the relocation, we were often at the new site. So we put the cheeses on the balcony, in a fridge, and a jar with money and all the explanations on how to make an Interac transfer, because we didn’t have time to be there. It allowed us to see that it was working,” recalls Julie Labrecque, who extended the experience to her new location with a boutique.

  • At the Fromagerie les Broussailles, a calculator is available to customers who want to total their purchases.  Then they can pay by debit or cash in the change pot at their disposal.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    At the Fromagerie les Broussailles, a calculator is available to customers who want to total their purchases. Then they can pay by debit or cash in the change pot at their disposal.

  • Julie Labrecque and Jean-François Clerson, owners of Fromagerie les Broussailles, in Martinville

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Julie Labrecque and Jean-François Clerson, owners of Fromagerie les Broussailles, in Martinville

  • The cheese dairy produces goat and sheep milk cheeses, but also honey.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The cheese dairy produces goat and sheep milk cheeses, but also honey.

  • The small Broussailles boutique is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The small Broussailles boutique is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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In Racine, the storefront Sojà d’ici, without employees, is a delight for soy lovers. Serving as a showcase for the company’s products and those of other producers in the region, but also as a research and development laboratory for new creations, it could not have been profitable with the salary of an employee to pay, since the income there is marginal compared to what the distribution in grocery stores brings in.

“People love the store because they have peace! We have the Square system with cameras. People can call us if there is a problem. We can provide assistance,” explains co-owner Jason Charland. Very satisfied with his concept, which allows you to program the opening of the doors at 7 a.m. without human intervention, he nevertheless admits that the technology is more complex for a clientele of a certain age, “but we are lucky to have the lady from the post office next door who can help them”.

Trust and honesty

  • The Sojà d'ici store is located in Racine.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    The Sojà d’ici store is located in Racine.

  • Sojà d'ici markets soy blocks, but also various soy products.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Sojà d’ici markets soy blocks, but also various soy products.

  • Sojà d'ici also serves as a showcase for various local products.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Sojà d’ici also serves as a showcase for various local products.

  • Esther Junkersdorf and Jason Charland, owners of Sojà d'ici

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Esther Junkersdorf and Jason Charland, owners of Sojà d’ici

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Residents of large cities may be surprised to find that such a system, relying on honesty and community spirit, can work. “People are so honest. Sometimes I see customers at the market saying to me, “I was $0.50 short the other day.” And they give it back to me,” laughs Annie Viens.

At Les Broussailles, we also assume that people who want to buy such products are fundamentally honest. In addition, the couple is often in the cheese dairy and the door is locked at the end of the day.

Exportable to major cities?

At a time when the labor shortage is rife, could self-service be viable in cities like Montreal? While some evoke the idea of ​​lockers that open when money is deposited in them or the insertion of a credit card allowing entry into the business, others believe that an employee assigned to the on-site production could settle the matter. “In a bakery, the baker is making his bread. There could be a self-service counter where people take their baguettes, pay and leave,” thinks Julie Labrecque, from Les Broussailles.

JoAnne Labrecque, honorary professor at HEC Montreal, believes that the concept would be difficult to export to major centers. “In smaller regions, it may be more realistic. These are people who know the producer, live nearby. And it’s part of social values ​​not to have service at the cash counter. »



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