A Scottish farmer and his son have devised a clever way to stop eggs being stolen from local honesty boxes and compete with supermarket giants
The solution to their problem came in the form of a vending machine which has room to store sacks of potatoes, a dozen eggs or a crate of beer.
The machine has now been installed outside a country shop so customers can buy their groceries 24 hours a day.
With no need to pay staff around the clock, the move means small retailers can compete with all-hours supermarket giants.
The machines are the brainchild of farmer John Retson and his son Stuart after they became fed up for their eggs being stolen.
They decided to source machines which store larger items like a box of a dozen eggs in individual containers.
Stuart, 39, director of Sales and Marketing for Vending By JSR, has also installed one of his innovative machines at the Blairgowrie Farm Shop in Perthshire, replacing the front window and allowing the shop to be ‘open’ all hours.
He said: “Everyone knows you can get a chocolate bar or can of juice in a vending machine but we can store large items in our machines and we are very excited about rolling this out on a national basis.
“So far, our machines have been installed on farms or shopping centres, selling local farm produce like eggs and veg – the kind of things everyone needs on a daily basis.
“But now a shop has 24-hour vending, we are seeing huge interest from all sorts of businesses.
“We could see greeting card companies use our vending machines, so no husband need ever come home without an anniversary or birthday card just because the shops have shut.
“Hotels could stock bags of toiletries for guests and bakeries could stay open all night, with no overheads.
“So far, we don’t actually sell beer in any of the machines we have sold – but there’s certainly room for a six-pack or more. This could change the face of the Scottish and UK high street.”
Since Jennifer and Colin Steele who own the Farm Shop replaced their shop window with the machine, they have been amazed at the results.
They no longer open the shop on Sundays, but still offer customers a wide variety of fresh, local produce.
As word of their venture grows, increasing numbers of people drive to them at night or in the small hours when shops are closed.
Stuart’s father John, 65, started his poultry business in Blairgowrie more than 20 years ago.
The Retsons are the only sellers of the German-made machines in the UK.
Stuart added: “These machines are very reliable. They take coins and notes and give change. They are widely used in other countries so we are excited about introducing them here. The possibilities are huge.”