It seems to me that lots of paleo types would be more interested in CSA meat shares (i.e., a quarter or half cow or pig) if they could store it. But especially in the city, there's not a lot of extra room for a chest freezer. Farmers would also like to sell more product this way directly to the consumer, as their net profit is better than selling to a supermarket, and it's easier than selling by the cut at farmers' markets. By buying in bulk, consumers get the good stuff at much closer to generic CAFO prices.
So the business concept is to install a large walk-in freezer (maybe a cast-off from a restaurant going under) at a self-storage facility (probably inside a unit with extra insulation), line the freezer with gym-like lockers, then rent access for some monthly amount.
What do you paleohackers think about the viability here? Would you patronize this sort of "Carni-Locker"? Would you pay $10/month? More? Less? (Remember that you might spend $800 on a half-share, so this storage premium isn't much. Butchers a couple of generations ago did this and charged $10-15/month, so the fee might be higher today.) Does anyone know how much electricity a large freezer consumes? Has this idea been tried anywhere previously? Would farmers themselves be potential customers to store product closer to their urban markets?
Thanks for any input!
asked byDan (801)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on August 13, 2013
at 08:23 PM
A 10x12 walk in freezer will cost >$400 a month to run - http://blog.uscooler.com/operating-cost-walkin-cooler-freezer/
A half side of beef will take ~10 cu ft of space - http://www.johansingfarms.com/grass_fed_beef_faq.htm
Assuming use of a 10x12 freezer with 8' height, you've got 960 cubic feet of space in there, but obviously you'll also need people to be able to move around and get at their stuff, which depending on layout i'll hazard a random guess that it could cut out a third to a half of your usable space, but that is a WAG, and somebody should prove me wrong on that one.
Anyway, let's assume 1/3 of your space is open for accessing the lockers, that leaves 640 cu ft of space. The lockers and shelving is going to take up space too, let's call it 600 even and say you could have 60 "shares" of 10 cu ft of freezer space to sell. 40 people renting at $10 a month would get you about enough to pay for your electricity. As someone who is buying in bulk for value, I would look at your business and compare to my other option (having a freezer just for this instead) and find that I could run a freezer conveniently in my own home for ~$3 a month (http://www.glendalewaterandpower.com/rates/appliance_operating_costs.aspx) and walk the other way. On the other hand, I have space for that, which not everyone does, especially if you're targeting cities.
Honestly though, electricity is definitely not going to be your only cost, so even if you kept all those spaces rented, you might barely be turning a profit, if at all. I think you'd be more likely to make the numbers work charging $20+ a month, but that adds up pretty quick (storing meat for up to a year - http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/FreezerChart.htm - could result in tacking on $240+ to that $800 bill which is significant), and you'd still have to drum up to a solid client base of repeat customers. Again, I think the niche is working against itself a little since it's aiming to add a middleman to a process where people are trying to cut out the middlemen to get savings.
If you're serious about the idea, I think the real next move would be to canvas a specific location and see if you can find local interest in it. Living in suburbia, I don't think I'm your target audience, so my outlook on it is going to be more negative as a consequence.