Yesterday, a bunch of families in our neighbourhood got together to engage in an eastern Canadian fall tradition: we went apple picking. We all piled into our family-friendly gas-guzzlers and drove 20 km out into the country to a place called Belliveau Orchard, the undisputed king of U-pick facilities in the Moncton area.
It was a beautiful day – mostly sunny and about 15°C – perfect fall weather. So perfect, in fact, that every other ambulatory human in southeastern New Brunswick also decided to go to Belliveau Orchard at the same time as us. So we had to park in a field across the road from the orchard, then stand in line for 90 minutes to get onto the charming tractor-drawn wagons that took us into the area of the orchard that amateurs are allowed to forage. All of which we did cheerfully – there are piles of hay and piles of pumpkins that the kids have a ball playing in while the adults hold the spot in line. But still – an hour and a half wait to give the Belliveaus our money? The mom of one of the families in our group, recently immigrated from Toronto, asked the perfectly reasonable question, “Aren’t there any other orchards around here?”
Frankly, if we hadn’t been so entrenched with our 20+ people already deployed in haystacks, pumpkin piles, cafés, washrooms, etc., we probably would have cut and run. But as it was, we stuck it out. And it was a golden opportunity to watch a business resolutely resisting the opportunity to separate people from their money. There is a store on-site where they sell cider, wine, apples (duh), pies, pastries, and a bunch of other stuff. They also sell pumpkins, squash, gourds, and other decorative (and edible) autumn fruit. These are all outside, of course, but you have to pay for them inside the store. So they had hundreds (thousands?) of people milling around waiting for their chance to pick apples, obviously in the mood to make apple- or autumn-related purchases, and exactly ONE cashier.
The line-up at that cash register was at least 30 minutes long. Bishop (my daughter, pictured) usually selects her Hallowe’en pumpkins during our annual trip to the orchard – but there was no way I was going to stand in line that long to pay for them when they have just as good choice at our local supermarket, for the same price.
Anyway, end of rant. The day was wholly enjoyable and we ended up with ½ bushel of primo Cortland apples that cost us only $10, and 150 tonnes of fun that we got for free. Belliveau has the whole marketing thing nailed – they just need to work on their money-collection process.