A woman presses a touchscreen, presses her credit card, then a small metal and glass door clicks open to reveal a plate of fresh, brown eggs.
She carefully takes the eggs out of the small locker they were in, closes the door, smiles and bids farewell to Leanne and Brian Maljaars.
The Maljaars own Berry Bounty Farms on Chilliwack Central Road, where they have been selling berries and eggs for 11 years.
New to the farm is their modern vending machine which is housed in its own free-standing building located just at the front of the property, easily visible to passers-by.
“It’s a completely different model, a completely different idea,” Brian said.
What makes their vending machine unique is that it holds room temperature, chilled and frozen items all in separate sets of stackable racks.
They describe the machines as giant Lego blocks.
“We chose (the racks) to best suit our products,” Brian said, adding that there are different sizes of racks.
All of the compartments that make up the frozen section were placed inside a commercial freezer. The refrigerated compartments stand on the right filled with egg cartons and flats, and the room-temperature vending machine is on the left containing jam and juice.
It is designed and manufactured in Europe by Innovend. The machines have been used there for years and are even designed to hold hot food.
The Maljaars purchased their machine through AgPro West Supply in Abbotsford last summer. It is a fully internet-based system and all software updates are done remotely.
“The most important thing for us is that it just changed the way we can sell things,” Leanne said. “It makes it more convenient for people not to have to scramble to find their five bucks.”
Before they had the vending machine they had a fridge full of eggs and it would only be cash for purchases. They also used to have a sale once a month where people could buy frozen fruit, or people could custom order it. Now people can get bags of frozen raspberries and blueberries six days a week.
The machine was a huge investment, but well worth it. They haven’t even had it for a year and sales of frozen berries and eggs have increased dramatically.
Moreover, they can add more sections to the machine when needed and have the possibility to expand their products from the products of their farm.
In addition to eggs and frozen berries, the Maljaars sell fresh berries when in season, homemade jam, juice, raspberry squares and honey.
The dispenser’s instructions for use are next to the touch screen where all products can be seen. People select what they want and can even select a specific cubby if they like the look of one egg dish over another, for example, then tap their cash card.
To save energy, the compartment doors of the refrigerated and freezer sections only open slightly and then the customer must open them completely, while the room temperature doors open by themselves.
Once the purchase is made, the light goes out in this locker.
Everything they sell comes from their farm. Other people asked other people to put their product in the vending machines, but the Maljaars refused.
“There’s something special about this being our place and our business,” Leanne said.
Berry Bounty Farms is located at 48260 Chilliwack Central Rd. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
They are closed on Sundays. For more information, including ordering fresh berries online, visit berrybountyfarms.com.