A store opened in Melville with an “honesty box” payment system and absolutely no staff… and it worked!
Melville, South Africa – An honesty box is a method of charging for a service such as admission or car parking, or for a product such as home-grown produce and flowers, which relies upon each visitor paying at a box using the honour system. Tickets are not issued, and such sites are usually unattended.
Some stores around the world also use them to avoid queues at a cash register, but that would never work in South Africa, or would it?
Brad Meiring and Siggi Nonhono believe that South Africans are genuinely good people when given a chance. They wanted to put this to the test in real life and came up with the idea of testing that theory out by sort of ‘putting the community’s money where their mouths are’.
“We had a vision of walking down the street, passing your friendly neighbour’s homes, and there you would find a bucket labelled “ avos for R10”. Next to the bucket filled with delicious ripe avos is a small tin – lift the lid, pop in R10 and take your avo. That is the reality in several countries around the world, so why not us we thought? The mere idea of something like this working in South Africa would be scoffed at time and time again – “if you bolted the box down too well, not only would the avo’s and the cash, but there was a good chance you would lose part of your wall if not all”.
They thought a little differently and believed that people were inherently good, and even more so South Africans are actually a special kind of awesome flavour. Where else in the world would you find the spirit of Ubuntu, Gogos, Oumas, Boets, Brus and Bras? Where despite all of our differences, we can come together as a rainbow nation and take on the world.
“In the begin of May, we decided to open a pop-up store at 27 Boxes in Melville that would be totally unmanned. That’s correct, an open shop, stock on the shelves with absolutely no staff in sight. The shop runs purely on an honesty system whereby the customer can walk in, pick their items and then either drop cash into a box or alternatively they can pay via SnapScan and walk out – simple.”
They were met with some doubters in the beginning, but those doubters turned to amazed believers every time they were given an update of the level of honesty that people actually have.
The Munching Mongoose opened up a pop-up shop at 27 Boxes in Melville at the beginning of May, but this time they put their faith in all South Africans, by operating the retail store, unstaffed and with an honesty box payment system. That’s right, the shop is open and stocked with some amazing products from incredible South African artisans and small scale producers, but there is no staff in the shop at all.
Customers can select the items that they want and pay via dropping cash in the “honesty box” or using SnapScan… and then leave. Simple!
Was there a chance that the store would be robbed blind, and this would essentially be a horrible and expensive failure? Sure, but they believed that they could also be blown away by the true honest nature of South Africans and this would be a catalyst towards something brilliant and groundbreaking, both locally and around the world.. not just neighbourhood avos – but full-blown ‘Honesty Box Retails’.
“Well, we WERE BLOWN AWAY – South Africans are amazing!
In one full month of operation, the only blip was that someone entered the shop, picked a R80 jar of jam and dropped R10 into the box. We would like to believe they paid all that they had at the time rather than steal it outright. They offered a small token in the true spirit of Ubuntu, and we are more than ok with that!”
Whichever way you look at it, the shop is a success. So much so, that they have decided to run it for a few more weeks in June. Intrigued? Go check them out or drop them a line.
“We would love your help to spread the word about how great South Africans really are!”
To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 079 910 0682