I am a huge fan of Terry O’Reilly and his podcast & CBC Radio Show Under the Influence. It is one of my absolute favourites and I have been known on more than one occasion to sit in my driveway in the car to finish an episode before heading into the house. I remember one episode from awhile back that was all about constraint and how being constrained to certain limitations can actually make you more creative.
Terry talked about Mick Jagger and how in the early days of the Stones career they played a ton of tiny dive bars with stages that were non existent. He had to perform in only a couple feet of space and so had to work hard to craft moves that would wow and capture the crowd while remaining in a teeny footprint. Those constraints early on in his career, actually created his signature moves and what he is known for. All from 4 square feet of space.
And while we don’t have moves like Jagger, we were definitely faced with constraints this Thanksgiving that we never had encountered before. Limited capacities in both our Fun Farm Yard and in the farm market store forced us to re-think how we can serve our customers efficiently while not diminishing the exceptional experiences we strive to create on the farm.
With only 4 customers allowed in the store at a time, we created waiting areas in the parking lot for those who wanted to wait to shop and also offered an express checkout for those that just wanted to pop in for a quick pie or bag of farm fresh apples. While I was uncertain has to how it would all go, I cannot tell you how incredible it felt to see those constraints turn into something positive that I never expected.
The express checkout was a runaway success and reduced the wait times significantly. The limit in the store allowed customers to move more freely and actually see all that we have to offer (as opposed to be jammed shoulder to shoulder). We were able to keep the shelves stocked more easily for everyone. I got to personally welcome almost every guest to the farm as I acted as the greeter/bouncer at the door (something I miss a lot being at my desk most days!). The Bouncing Pillow in the Fun Farm Yard was spacious. It was just….nice. A lot less stressful, a lot more enjoyable and a lot more connecting with customers.
I never expected our busiest Thanksgiving weekend ever to feel so good. And I never want to go back to the way it was, the Wild West of years gone by. In future, though we may not be required to limit capacity at the farm, we will take what we’ve learned this year and channel it into all we do going forward.
I am thankful for our incredible team that with every late night and early morning helped to make this weekend the success it was. I am thankful to you our amazing customers for your support in our small family business. And, I am thankful for constraints that force us to think of new ideas that create goodness we never saw coming.
You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.
Amen Mick. Amen.