Sweet corn sellers offer free cobs in competitive market
With the price of sweet corn doubling in price in about 10 years, up from $2.99 per dozen to $5.99 per dozen, at many Eastern Ontario roadside stands, the offer of free corn at two competing stands sounds like a sweet deal.
As the sweet corn market has increasingly become a money-maker around urban centres, it was only a matter of time that drive-by consumers would see competition. This year on Bankfield Road, west of Prince of Wales Drive, outside Manotick, and south of urban Ottawa, two roadside stands on opposite sides of the road are offering free cobs to lure customers.
When Roger Cleroux set up a stand this year for the first time across the road from Graham Green’s stand, Green began offering five free cobs to anyone who stopped. Cleroux responded by offering up to three extra cobs to anyone who bought a dozen.
A local newspaper headlined the marketing tactics "Corn war breaks out in Manotick."
The last few years have seen the rise of a plethora of sweet corn stands, often strategic decisions to increase market share by setting up shop close to a competitor at a busy intersection. Some stands this year dare to sell corn at $8 per dozen.
At one intersection in Perth there are now three roadside stands, while there are three stands within a one kilometre stretch on Hwy 15 at Smiths Falls.
Shannon Miller, at Lombardy, west of Smiths Falls, sells at the farmgate and at a stand near Perth, and says this year there is a definite increase in roadside stands.
"Some people are getting a little greedy," she says. "They park on someone else’s doorstep and see what they can reel in."