Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spy Games


The soundtrack above for today's blog says it all.  My mission for yesterday, should I have chosen to accept it, was to investigate the competition in order to perform a price and quality comparison.

As some of you know, our berry patch is opening for business this week.  I spent yesterday morning fulfilling my duties as vice president of part running (I do have to throw a shout out to Durand of Auto Parts & Supply of Princeton.  The Boy was absolutely thrilled to be in a parts store as usual and as I was checking out Durand gave him a little paper bag of Tootsie Rolls and a Hot Wheels Car.  It's yet another reason to patronize an independent retailer :)) and yesterday afternoon I fulfilled my duties as President of Two Mule Farms (it sounds way more important than it really is).  I made phone calls and when The Boy awoke from his seista, we went and ordered shirts and signs for the farm.  Then, I got the call, "an unnamed competitor (I'd tell you the name but then I'd have to kill you) has set up around town today, why don't you go and see how much they are charging?"  I accepted the mission before it could self-destruct.  Time for me to fulfill my duties as Berry Girl (my third career change of the day) and run reconaissance on the competition.

The Boy and I went incognito as just a normal mom and kid.  I wore normal everyday clothes, he had on his Bass Pro Shop t-shirt.  I disguised my face with dark sunglasses.  We drove out to a location I knew they had a small u-pick patch on sight in order for me to get the most information possible.  Once we arrived I realized I had caught the stand attendant off guard (ha!).  She didn't have time to get out of her car before I could sneak up to the stand.  It was completely full of berries.  I nonchalantly asked her the price.  I decided to buy what they call a flat to bring it back to the lair and study it.  I wanted to run tests to see how much it weighs and how does it fit into one of our buskets.  I wanted to see how many quarts are in it.  I asked her about the u-pick.  Once I have gathered the necessary surveillance I safely return to my vehicle and return to the lair to report on my mission.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not out on a vendetta against my competition.  I really have nothing but hope for success in my heart for all my local comrades in arms.  I believe there is plenty of business for all of us.  We've sold plants to them, we talk to them to see how their farms are coming.  We believe that by working together we can get further than engaging in a capitalistic blood sport over berry business.  However, the unnamed competitor I am speaking of is not really a local operation so I do not feel the least bit guilty for scoping them out.  The object of my mission was really just to make sure our prices are in line with what the rest of the county has.  I have no doubt that they have absolutely no idea who we are, and if they did they couldn't possibly consider our little farm competition.   

So what where the results of my mission?  I believe we may change the sizes in which we sell our berries.  We may move to the smaller flats and not even have the busket size we had last year.  This change is mainly due to how much easier it will be for us to handle.  The flats will stack easier, and it will be less overhead for us to not have to buy the buskets which do not stack.  Plus, it will be more efficent since we can pick them straight into the flats and not have to move the berries in the buskets (I'm always looking for smarter ways to do something), which will cut down on time and bruises to the berries.  This is still in a planning stage, as I have yet to purchase these flats, but I am pretty sure we will be moving to those, if not this weekend then next week for sure. 

Don't forget that we'll be open on Saturday!  Come check us out!

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