Roadside Stands: The Psychology of Why We Stop


It's tourist season. Many folks are out and about on summer vacations driving past roadside signs that offer some sort of attraction, fun thing to do, or something to buy. As our farm and farm store are one of those attractions, I have become very interested in the psychology of why we stop.


Lately, as tourist season is on the upswing, I have noticed a few behaviors I find very interesting. When folks pull into our driveway, they sometimes park right outside the store despite the big parking sign directing them to "Nose into the Barn Parking." Often, the passenger is directed to, "Go check it out" while the driver waits. In a moment, the passenger returns telling the driver to park and join them in the store. I hear, "It's so cool. You have to come see it!"


Sometimes people pull into the barn parking, but leave their car running when they go check out the store because they assume they won't stay long. Again, within moments, they return to the car to shut it off and make a proper visit.


Last weekend, a few people pulled in, left their cars running and their doors open when they went to check out the store. Again, their assumption was they wouldn't be long inside. On our farm, noncommittal behavior invites chickens to take a tour of visitor's cars!


Of course, lots of people don't even make it down the driveway. They just drive past at a snail's pace, curious, but not sure we have anything they want. They don't know what they're missing.


If I'm outside the store, here's the question visitors always ask, "What do you sell?"


I always answer, "You really need to go inside to see. It's hard to explain." Afterall, how do you explain selling health, wellness, nostalgia and lots of very unique culinary items?


Many people have told me I should post signs along the road to the farm that say CBD, Eggs, Maple Syrup, Sunflower Oil, etc. However, as a traveler myself, when I've seen signs like that for some sort of farm store or stand, I NEVER stop. I guess I feel like those signs deter more than attract. I see them as little crumbs most likely leading to a tourist trap, and I'd hate for our farm to be thought of that way. Without those signs, however, I do see that lots of people drive right past thinking what we have is not for them. Even if the signs read, Health, Wellness, History, Nostalgia, a fair number of folks wouldn't understand the concept either. So, I'm back to, "You just need to see it and experience it for yourselves."


SO, WHAT DO WE SELL? Our business concept is so much more than a little farm store. Certainly, we sell products that come from our fields, forests and gardens, but we also invite our guests to experience the working farm; to experience farm life just a bit and to visit with the farmers. If you stop by during our peak season, it's likely that I will tell you about our latest happenings, throw out a bad farm joke or two, or take you on a walk to see the new ducks, our greenhouse or the mooies. When you arrive at our farm, you are our guests and we want you to feel that.


WHY DO YOU WANT TO STOP? The style of farming that we do is a dying art. We are still a small family farm growing crops for animals and humans. Farming in the U.S. has grown into a huge factory industrial system, and while we do farm row crops and have a TON of tractors around, we are small in comparison. At our farm we have a few sweet animals traipsing around. You can see our free-range chickens, our waddling ducks, a herd of cattle bathing in their pond, and a crew of very friendly steers that will come begging for a treat if you stand at their gate. Our very affectionate three-legged dog will greet you at the door and ask for a pat, and if you're here at the right time of day, our cats may be up for a little visit as well. We want you to have a farm to visit where you can be part of history; where you can enjoy what we call, "Our new old-fashioned way." Of course, you will want to take home some of the delicious culinary goodies we have for sale in the store as well!


The tourist behavior that warms my heart and brings me great joy is to see the reluctant visitor show up, enjoy their time here so much that they return a few days later with friends or family in tow. We are not just a store, we are friends to our visitors, and with small family farming on the decline, we are here to be that farm people can still visit. We sell the nostalgia of days past. We sell an experience of visiting the farm. And, we have a farm boutique that is so full of unique items that signs along the road would not do it justice. You just absolutely need to come out to see for yourselves.


WHAT'S NEW IN THE STORE THIS WEEK?


We have Rush River Produce Blueberries in our Farmhouse Bars and a scrumptious Blueberry Vanilla Chia Jam. If it's too hot for you, stop by after picking your own blueberries for a Blueberry Lemon Paleta - fresh fruit popsicles!


The greenhouse is kicking out beets, cucumbers, broccoli and basil so come for PICKLES and BORSCHT.


The store is fully stocked with all of our staples as well, and Grandma's Farmhouse recipes mean there are lots of treats to be had:)


Share me with your friends, bring your family, don't be shy!


Sending love from the farm,


Sarah

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