Yare Valley Oils’ new farm shop is built on trust
- Credit: Archant
A family farm has continued its diversification by opening a new 'self service' shop – operating entirely on the trust of its customers.
Father and son Tim and William Mack have already created a retail brand in the form of Yare Valley Oils, made from oilseed rape grown on the mixed farm at Surlingham, outside Norwich.
Now they have opened a farm shop in a renovated wood shed, selling a range of oils, potatoes and meat from the farm's 150-strong beef herd, as well as vegetables, fruit juice, cheeses, ice cream, coffee and preserves from other Norfolk producers – even flowers from a florist in the nearby village.
The shop is not staffed, so customers are trusted to use the self-service debit card machine, or deposit money into a tube marked 'feed me' which drops the cash into a separate locked room. The building is also monitored by CCTV.
Tim Mack said: 'We rely completely on trust. We cannot afford to have someone working here all the time on £60 a day. I would hope we will one day if we can expand it, but not at the moment.
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'Hopefully we won't get a nasty experience. There is potential for us being cleaned out of meat, but you couldn't nick any money.
'We have tried to keep the prices competitive. Some of these farm shops are stuffed with things that are quite expensive. But you would feel if you are getting closer to the point of production, you should be able to provide it cheaper.'
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Mr Mack's son William added: 'It is also opening up the farm to the general public, so they can see what's happening, and the benefit of local produce.'
Glenn Sealey, who handles sales and marketing for Yare Valley Oils, said the shop's proximity to the Ted Ellis Nature Reserve and the Wherryman's Way, created the potential for passing trade from cyclists and walkers.
'We want to make it a stop for Norfolk produce,' he said. 'We have already got some repeat customers who are coming back every week, whether it is a hot chocolate on the way to school or shopping for an evening meal. We get a lot of good feedback in our visitor book.'
Last year, 100 acres of the farm's oilseed rape was pressed into more than 30,000 litres of oil.
The pulp from the pressing goes into a biomass boiler which fuels the farm and also heats a timeshare swimming pool – another example of the farm's diverse approach to business.