Consumers love discounted prices, especially when it comes to staple household purchases. Chicken breasts for $1.79 per pound? Sign us up.
Many shoppers are doing just that with an emerging service from a Washington-based company called Zaycon Foods, even as the company requires customers to accept two unusual practices: buying in bulk (those chicken breasts come in 40-pound boxes) and (here’s the really weird part of this) buying out of the back of a truck rather than a typical store.
Zaycon’s drive-thru markets have been held in places such as Winston-Salem, N.C., the Tampa Bay region in Florida, and Fresno, Calif. Customers place their orders online, and pickups in area parking lots (outside churches, bowling alleys, roller rinks) are scheduled on specific days. Orders can be made as late as three hours before the pickup time, but no orders are allowed on the spot.
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The idea of picking up meat out of the back of a truck may seems sketchy, perhaps even illicit. That may actually be part of the attraction—that you’re in on some sneaky, quasi-black market operation. “People have told me, ‘I feel dirty. I just bought a box of chicken out of a truck parked in a bowling alley. But it’s the best chicken I’ve ever had,”’ Mike Conrad, one of the company’s executives, told the Tampa Bay Times.
Buying meat in enormous quantities packaged in plain cardboard boxes doesn’t seem to bother shoppers either. “It’s not as pretty as if you go to the grocery store and buy it, but it’s high quality and fresh,” Liza Ford, who blogs at AddictedtoSaving.com, said. “It’s a great way to save money.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a recent drive-thru meat market in central Florida was crowded with bargain-hunting shoppers:
“We’re big Costco-goers,” said Alicia Spears, an Orlando real-estate agent, who spent $125 for 40 pounds of ham and sausage. “We thought this might be a better way to cut that middleman out.”
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As for the idea that there’s something unappealing or strange about buying meat out of a truck, that’s silly when you really think about it, Conrad told the Sentinel:
“Every chicken you’ve ever gotten came from a truck,” he said. “The butcher made it look nice, put it on a nice tray, covered it with Saran wrap and sold it for $2 a pound more than I’m selling it for.”
Look for Zaycon trucks packed with 25,000 pounds of meat—chicken breasts, ham, ground beef, salmon, sausage links, and/or sometimes even Alaskan cod—coming to a church parking lot near you.