Unmanned Joburg pop-up store uses honesty box

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 13 June 2019

In Johannesburg an organic produce delivery company, The Munching Mongoose, has totally flipped the retail shopping experience on its head.

The retailer’s Melville pop-up store is left unmanned all day with an honesty box for customers to leave money for their groceries in and leaving shoppers to decide how much they feel they should spend – or not.

Munching Mongoose operates largely online, selling food box hampers containing a week’s supply of fresh produce and kitchen staples which are all locally sourced and ethically farmed, including artisanal food products like jams and sauces.

Nearly five years ago, The Munching Mongoose was born out of a desire to make fresh, organic produce available to families or individuals who want to live healthier lives. Co-founder Brad Meiring, a geologist turned organic food entrepreneur, fondly remembers growing up with good memories of sitting around the dinner table with family to enjoy meals. Together with The Munching Mongoose manager, Sigqibo Nonhonho, they try to minimise food wastage and the chemicals from unethical farming practices damaging the soil.

Since the beginning of May, however, Sigqibo decided to host a social experiment at the 27 Boxes warehouse in Melville. In the pop-up store, he keeps hardier veggies like butternut, potatoes, onions and avos, along with a few jars of jam and artisanal sauces. ‘You walk into the shop and there’s a price tag on the items, and brown paper bags near the payment area, where you can drop off some cash or pay with SnapScan – there’s no one there,’ says Nonhonho. ‘I open at nine in the morning, leave and come back to lock up at night.’ The other tenants in 27 Boxes certainly thought he was barmy, but to date, Sigqibo has not experienced any theft.

This belief in the honesty and the integrity of his fellow South Africans is what has Nonhonho considering keeping the store in Melville open for a little while longer. As things stand though, two weeks is all you have left to visit this remarkable little store, called ‘Honesty Box Retail’.

If you miss it, don’t forget to check out Munching Mongoose online and see how cleaner, organic produce can benefit your health (Sigqibo hasn’t had the flu since he took over in August last year) and the local community.

Here’s a TedTalk on organic food by co-founder Brad Meiring:


Images: supplied

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