Consumers can now get strawberries from their local farmers’ market without actually going outside.
Online operator Fresh Nation takes orders for items available at farmers' markets, shops the market for the products and then delivers them to consumers’ homes.
“It’s a fairly sophisticated system that keeps the online market essentially as close as possible to the real market,” Fresh Nation CEO Tony Lee told SN.
Lee described the company as the “Uber of farmers’ markets,” referring to the popular rideshare app that allows users to quickly connect with drivers. He also agreed that the model is similar to the grocery delivery company Instacart, but for a different channel.
The retailer’s employees are trained in food safety and deliver the product from the market in a short amount of time. There is no delivery fee for orders over $75 and a $5 delivery fee for those smaller orders.
Fresh Nation officially launched its business this May in Los Angeles, Fairfield County, Conn., and Westchester County, New York.
The company piloted the program last year in Fairfield, Conn.
“We just wanted to see if — well, we wanted to see a lot of things: We wanted to see if we could really put farmers’ markets online, if we could build the system to make that happen and whether customers would react well. And the answer, I guess, was yes, yes, yes,” Lee said.
After the pilot, Fresh Nation redeveloped its system to allow for expansion to more locations.
Lee previously worked in technology and e-commerce until 2011 when he started his own farmers' market. This experience proved useful in recruiting growers and vendors.
“I guess you could say we got street cred,” he said. “The vendors know we aren’t just a bunch of technology geeks who are doing something they don’t really understand. We’ve run a farmers' market, we’ve done with dozens of vendors. That’s helped us a lot with our relationships with them.”
The concept appears to be resonating with time-strapped consumers. Sales have been doubling each month, according to Lee.
While it might seem difficult to keep up year-round offerings in the East Coast’s colder months, Lee said farmers are increasingly growing products through the winter.
“The farmers are really cranking out — under hoops and in greenhouses — some really unbelievable products.”
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