Selling Produce With the Honor System



I've been visiting my mom in Maryland, which during the summer means stopping by Tom Chandler's produce stand in Bowie. Tom has been selling produce next to his corn field for decades, and he still uses the honor system. Passers-by pick out want they want, bag it up, and leave their money in the lock box. There's no change. I just love that.

My Uncle Bobby says Chandler used an empty sheet rock bucket for years to collect the money, but when somebody stole the bucket, he added the lock box. Low-tech, but effective.

When I stopped by to buy cabbage (50 cents a  head), cucumbers (two for a dollar) and half-a-dozen tomatoes ($4), Chandler was on hand to refill the plates with vegetables. All his produce is merchandised on paper plates. You drop the empty plate in a bin after bagging your produce, and that's how Chandler keeps track of his sales. I asked if many people took vegetables without paying.

"Folks are pretty honest," Chandler said. "I used to try to keep up with it, but it made me so mad when I was missing $20, so now I don't count and I don't worry about it."

Isn't it lovely that this charming man has figured out how to handle stress and grow a gorgeous tomato?

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