We sell vegetables, and sometimes nature blesses us with excess. I'm looking for a way to offer them to our customers on a first-come/first-serve basis.

If I send out an email that says "we have 10 extra shares of squash" and 20 people say that they want it, then I have to tell half of them that it's already spoken for.

I could host an e-commerce thing, but all of the ecomm projects out there are WAY too much. I don't need payment processing or anything, just an inventory/reservation system.


Anybody have any low-tech ideas on how to do this?

It needs to be accessible to non-tech people, so basically the web and email are just about the only tools I can think of at my disposal.

I feel like setting up a MySQL database and some bloated PHP app is just too much...

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Or rather, I know there's a low-tech solution hiding in there somewhere, but I just can't put my finger on it. 👨‍🌾

@winduptoy I’m imagining a virtual sign-up sheet - maybe something like etherpad?

@natehn Interesting, didn't think of that! I wonder if there's a way to lock a certain part of the pad from editing, don't want people to overwrite each other or have full write access to everything.

@winduptoy yeah, I guess it depends on the trust level - maybe something with version history?

@winduptoy on the server-side store a text file containing item names and quantities.

when a user reserves, update the entry in the text file with the new value, send yourself a notification.

on the client-side, read values from the text file, display a form if the given products quantity is not 0, and a "sold out" message otherwise.

the simplest method I can imagine, very interested in alternative solutions.

happy to help set this up if no better solution is proposed :)

@deianeira After sleeping on it, your direction is where I'm leaning, building it as a CGI script.

I was thinking that instead of a numeric value, build the text file as a series of STOCK/SELL append-only transactions to make the design more functional.

My only concern is concurrency. Do you think I could pull this off with basic file locking and not have any double-spend issues?

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