In our modern society it’s becoming increasingly harder to trust others, especially considering the high crime rate in South Africa.
Who, then, would allow perfect strangers to manage your income?
Honesty Box Retail in Melville, Johannesburg, is doing just that. This tiny food shop is an experiment in integrity.
This pop-up stall in Melville’s 27 Boxes shopping centre sells fruit and veg as well as other food items – but there’s no cashier or staff on the premises.
Siggi Nonhono (32), manager of The Munching Mongoose, an online food-delivery company that’s behind this quirky little shop, tells YOU they decided to open the pop-up because of their trust in South Africans’ inherent honesty. The result is this social experiment in ubuntu.
“We dreamt of a South Africa where you can walk down the street and come across a bucket with avos for sale. Next to the avos would be a small honesty box where you’d deposit your money, then take your avo – without anyone having to man the stand,” he explains.
“This type of thing is a reality overseas, so why can’t we do it too?”
Honesty Box, which opened early in May, displays the price of each item next to it. Shoppers pay for what they take by putting cash in an honesty envelope, or by using SnapScan. It’s as simple as that.
Though the pop-up hasn’t exactly been swamped with shoppers, there were a few regular customers who’d come back with friends.
Did they never fear being robbed?
“Not really,” Siggi says. “I must admit the centre is quiet – but mostly we believe the average South African to be honest and sincere.”
There was one customer who took a jar of jam that cost R80 and only paid R10 for it. “But we want to believe they paid with what they had rather than simply stealing it,” Siggi says.
Initially the shop was only going to be open during May but thanks to its success its management decided to keep it operational until the end of June.
Siggi hopes the experiment will have a snowball effect in SA. As the shop’s motto says, its owners are “faceless but not faithless”.