Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Economics of Pumpkins

I just returned from a local pumpkin farm with my family -- and I must say first off that I was very impressed with the entire experience.  It is only open on weekends in Sept/Oct, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot of infrastructure, but I was wrong. There were so many activities and it all looked brand new (although I know it has been there for a while). It exceeded my expectations to say the least.

They really have a great business concept.  It is marketed to families during the day and they get a lot of youth groups and teenagers in the evenings as they are open until 10 pm. They have activities that appeal both to families (pony rides, corn sand box, bouncy barn, farm animals, etc.) and teenagers (corn maze, fire pit, hay rides, etc.). Everything was high quality and the workers (likely family and friends) held a sense of pride and happiness. Perhaps that is because it is only only 7 weekends out of the year, and there isn't necessarily a drainage of energy. It is surrounded by gardens of beautiful sunflowers. Most surprising was that there prices were reasonable. And, did I mention that it is in the middle of nowhere?

And...of course...I began to wonder about the economics of this little (or not so little) pumpkins. One of the workers mentioned that they bring in 4000-5000 visitors a weekend. So, if we average this to 4,500 over 7 weekends, this brings us to an estimated 31,500 visitors. We spent $40 for our family of 4 (including our 5 pumpkins), averaging $10 per person. This is probably a pretty conservative average spending considering that while we purchased a few snacks, we did not have lunch there and our two girls were under 5 and got in free. But still, 31,500 visitors at $10 per visitor comes to $315,000 for the season. Not bad, huh?

After doing a bit more research, I found out that the owner is an out-of-town lawyer that spends his weekends working on this ranch and donates a portion to charities every year. What a nice ending. I'm definitely happy for this entrepreneur -- for providing a great product in a great way that I hope to return to year after year.

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