Flowers are 'on the honor system' at Ma's Little Red Barn

A "cash and carry" bouquet in the makeshift foyer cooler at Ma's Little Red Barn. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)
We are part of The Trust Project.

Since most of the state closed March 27, Ma’s Little Red Barn made sure to not waste any of its floral inventory.

Owner Barb "Ma" Lenius donated some to the local assisted-living center. As an "essential business" during the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have been able to call, text and order arrangements online for delivery.

But Ma found another way to do contact-free sales: The honor system.

She is using the store’s foyer as a cooler, and people's honesty for payment.

“They come in here (the foyer) and they pick up their 'cash and carry' then put their cash in the box,” Lenius said.


All the arrangements and bouquets in the makeshift cooler are $20, Lenius said.

A sign outside of Ma's Little Reb Barn lets costumers know what their contact-free floral arrangement options are, and what items are available. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)

The foyer can be used as a cooler only when it the outside temperature is above freezing -- or until it gets too nice out to use the foyer as a cooler, Lenius said.

Flowers that do not need to be in the cooler, such as potted plants, sit outside of the store and are also available on the honor system -- there are cash boxes on either side of the store or payment.

All of the cash boxes have hand sanitizer for customers to use after they place their cash in the box, Lenius said.

In response to a question posed on the Florist Ideas Exchange group on Facebook, Lenius explained how she has been operating using her available spaces and self-service, she said.


Barb, left, and Mark Lenius, owners of Ma's Little Red Barn, have been providing floral services to the area during the stay-at-home order using contact-free delivery and the honor system. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)

Lenius’ post got feedback as other florists wanted to know how she made the honor system work. The post got attention from Tim Huckabee, "who is a speaker and big time in the floral work industry," Lenius said. He messaged back and said “that’s just Minnesota living!” Lenius said.

“There’s a lot of the honors system going on around rural Minnesota,” Lenius said, referring rural honey and vegetable stands around Minnesota.

Contact-free orders

Hand sanditzer is available by all three cash drop boxes for customers to use at Ma's Little Red Barn. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)

What to read next
Cathy Scheibe, at 82, of LaMoure, North Dakota, continues with Toy Farmer Magazine, more than 22 years after her husband and co-founder, Claire, died. She talks about how the company is changing and preparing for transitions, about how markets for toy tractors and construction equipment have been unusually strong due to the pandemic and supply chain issues for new toy commemorative projects.
The potatoes, donated by Northland Potato Growers Association members through a project dubbed Northland Potato Blessing Project, will be used for meals, holiday gift baskets and food boxes during the next year.