In 2009 the vast majority of what we now call the Farm Market and Bakery was a barn, a home to Bessie the tractor, other farm equipment and the farm workshop. After Paul and Sara purchased the business from Chug and Joyce, this area was converted into what was called the sales barn.
We started with our vision for the future of this business and our company overall. We decided that we want our future to be about localizing and integrating farm, food and beverage production. We grow the apples that we peel and dice to fill pies and press to make sweet and hard cider.
Farm Markets have a history in this country, they are a part of our culture. Unlike farmers markets, where multiple farmers travel into cities to market their goods, farm markets are built on farms, it is a place where the market comes out to the farm, it features products from the farm or processed with ingredients from the farm. This is much more representative of what our sales barn was and what we want our business to be.
In the future you can expect to see a lot more good and diversity of goods that are from start to finish made in-house. In a time where less and less products are homemade, that, along with great produce, is what our farm market will stand for.
However, more often than not the sales barn in the fall looked like this:
The number one complaint we received about the Wilson’s experience was the long lines and wait times. The long lines are a feature of the outpouring of support and interest in our products that Wilson’s receives, that support and interest is the foundation of the success of Wilson’s and why this business has been around for 40 years. While we do not want to charge a gate fee or limit the number of people that come out, we do want to make it a better experience for the people who do. That was the primary focus of our remodel.
Our remodel team was led by Katie (design) and Paul (general contractor). They had a lot of help from Royce Schintler who oversaw the construction.
The five major changes we made during this remodel include:
Built an island in the middle of the market to improve guest flow.
This structured flow would help guests socially distance themselves, make the experience more intuitive and easier to navigate/find what you are looking for.
We added a significant amount of on-floor storage.
In the past almost all of the storage has been in the back, by adding a lot of storage space on the floor of the market restocking will be easier and less disruptive to guest flow and experience.
We added a lot of display space, including display cooler and display freezer space.
This will afford us the space to stock more of the most popular products and then when we are super busy more guests will be able to access these products at a given time.
We added a structured queue for checkout.
This will make the checkout process more intuitive, less confusing and more efficient.
We separated the prep kitchen from the cash registers.
This way there will be space to have two separate teams, one operating the registers and the other baking and preparing the food items that guests buy at checkout, this will also greatly improve our checkout capacity and efficiency.
Another thing we wanted to focus on is making our Farm Market more experiential. Retail is increasingly being commoditized by Amazon and e-commerce, the most interesting retail experience are looking more like hospitality and less like traditional retail.
For us this will be a multi-year transition where we offer more exciting things to do at the farm, but to start off the transition we wanted to focus on sampling. To that end we increased our sampling stations from one to four. They will not be used this year until it is socially responsible to do so, but in years to come you will see that our market will, like a Napa Winery, become an immersive sampling experience where you the guest will be offered up to four products to sample each time you visit, these will rotate frequently, some will be new creations, others will be old favorites.