I’ve been asked a few times from other growers this summer if we offer a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share program. We do, but it takes a slightly different form than most farm share programs.
I found that that the challenges outweighed the benefits when customers bought into a weekly bouquet subscription during our first season. If a customer forgot to pick up a bouquet, they felt bad that I was left holding a perishable product that wasn’t sold because I’d held it for them. I felt bad because I hadn’t been able to remind them to come and get their bouquet. And I knew they might feel awkward the next time they visited my stand. And then we also had those customers who would ask to “bank” their weekly bouquets if they were going on vacation. I had a hard time saying no to those requests. It became a chore to keep everything organized. Inevitably, there was a lot of waste.
This past season, I instead offered Bouquet Punch Cards. These cards, designed with the free web-based platform, Canva, and printed at home on blank business card stock (from Staples) and craft paper card stock (from Target), proved to be a much more profitable and easy way to approach bouquet sales for us.
Customers who bought (or received a punch card as a gift) could bring their cards to the farmers market and simply pick up any bouquet or bouquets they liked. They could redeem one punch, or all 10. I offered an 11th bouquet free upon completion of the card. I held labeled cards in my cash box for anyone who was worried about losing them or forgetting to bring them to market.
The response was wonderful. Time and time again, I had customers exclaim how excited they were to see what the week’s bouquets looked like. If they were gifted cards, I watched them remind their spouses (in front of me!) that they loved the gift and would “love another card next season, please.” Many bouquet punch card holders did come weekly or almost weekly to pick up bouquets. But others came piecemeal throughout the summer and nabbed a couple bouquets here and there when they were hosting guests for dinner or wanted to share birthday bouquets with friends. Some sent punch cards to market with a friend.
The cards don’t expire, so there is no pressure on customers to “use them up” by the end of the season, either.
We will absolutely continue to offer the punch cards. They are a regular item in my online shop now, and I will make a push to remind customers of the gift option this winter around the holidays and again as we near Valentine’s Day. That income is certainly welcome during the slower months.
Punch cards are a no fail CSA approach for us, and I hope that sharing this story will help other growers find meaningful ways to sell more flowers next season. Have a different way of moving your home grown product? I’d love to learn more. Please share ideas and questions in the comments below.