A woman taps a touch screen, taps her credit card, then a small metal-and-glass door clicks and pops open to reveal a flat of fresh, brown eggs.
She carefully pulls the eggs out of the little cubby 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’ve been selling berries and eggs for 11 years.
New to the farm is their modern vending machine which sits in its own standalone building located right at the front of the property, easily visible to passers-by.
“This is a completely different model, a completely different idea,” Brian said.
What makes their vending machine unique is that it holds room-temperature, refrigerated and frozen items, all in separate sets of stackable cubbies.
They describe the machines as giant Lego blocks.
“We’ve picked (the cubbies) to best suit our products,” Brian said, adding that there are various sizes of cubbies.
The entire set of cubbies that makes up the frozen section has been placed inside a commercial freezer. The refrigerated cubbies stand to the right filled with cartons and flats of eggs, and the room-temperature vending machine is on the left holding jam and juice.
It’s designed and manufactured in Europe by Innovend. The machines have been used for years there and are even designed to hold hot food.
The Maljaars bought their machine through AgPro West Supply in Abbotsford last summer. It’s a completely internet-based system and all software upgrades are done remotely.
“The biggest thing for us is this just changed how we can sell stuff,” Leanne said. “This makes it more convenient for people not to have to scramble to find their five dollars.”
Before they got the vending machine, they had a fridge filled with eggs and it would be cash only for purchases. They also used to have a sale once a month where folks could buy frozen fruit, or people could custom order it. Now it’s six days a week that people can get bags of frozen raspberries and blueberries.
The machine was a huge investment, but well worth it. They’re not even a year into having it and both frozen berry and eggs sales have increased dramatically.
Plus, they can add more sections to the machine when needed and have the opportunity to expand their products from the produce on their farm.
In addition to eggs and frozen berries, the Maljaars sell fresh berries in season, homemade jam, juice, raspberry squares and honey.
The instructions on how to use the vending machine are beside the touch screen where all products can be seen. Folks select what they want, and can even select a specific cubby if they like the looks of one flat of eggs over another, for example and then tap their payment card.
To preserve energy, the cubby doors to the refrigerated and freezer sections only pop open slightly and then the customer has to open it the rest of the way, whereas the room-temperature doors open all the way on their own.
Once a purchase is made, the light goes off in that cubby.
Everything they sell comes from their farm. They have had other people inquire about putting their product into the vending machines, but the Maljaars declined.
“There’s something special about it being our place and our stuff,” Leanne said.
Berry Bounty Farms is located at 48260 Chilliwack Central Rd. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
They are closed Sundays. For more, including online ordering for fresh berries, go to berrybountyfarms.com.