Business idea. Has anyone used something similar?

Annette Holbrook(z7a)

DH and I just closed down the dog daycare and training center we’ve owned since 1997. We moved into an area that is a big draw for tourists and retirees. Where I just moved from there was a dairy and produce delivery service. You signed up and every week they would pick up an assortment of what was in season and then bring to a common point(like a park or mall parking lot) and you’d meet up and get your portion of the weeks stuff. It was all organic, which was the reason people chose it over grocery store options. I think you could pick and choose each week from a list, plus you could opt out with a certain number of days notice. I never used it as we grew a lot of our own stuff, but I remember it being discussed in social media.

Anyway, we have just moved about an hour north into a much smaller community with way less shopping options. I’m generally fine with what is here but there are a few things I make sure to pick up in bulk whenever I visit friends in the old neighborhood. Apparently there are quite a few people in my new area that have the same issue. It turned into a long thread on the fb group for this community yesterday, with everyone talking about the stuff they’d love to get up here.

I was already churning this idea in my head, but that conversation yesterday got me thinking more seriously about it.

Does it sound like a feasible thing to set up a service where I get a shopping list for people, drive down, fill up my truck, then meet back up here at a central spot for people to get their items? I have to think about the amount I’d charge per person, either a flat fee or a percentage of their order? I’d also consider delivering directly to individual homes for a fee.

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maddielee

I would first check out how quickly Amazon delivers to people in your area. If you could be faster, your idea may work.

near our lake house there’s a small farmer’s market that sells a little of everything. Produce, dairy, meat to paper goods. She is open 6 days a week, daylight hours. She says she is doing OK, but sure does work a lot of hours.

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socks

This would be very helpful for people who have trouble physically making it to a market and also for busy working families. Also helpful for people recovering from surgery, illness. You could reach these people through any home health care in your area.

If I order delivered groceries from Vons, they charge $3.95 service fee and then $10 for delivery. They deduct $6 from the delivery fee if given a 4-hour window. This is in Southern California where the grocery business is quite competitive.

You would be spending gas and quite a bit of time shopping for multiple customers. Think about charging a percentage of the order. If it's a huge order it will take more shopping time for you, more effort hauling. You would also have an issue of keeping cold stuff cold.

I'll be honest, I think it would be a lot of work and time for not much earned. But if it appeals to you, give it a try. I don't think it would involve much if any expense on your part unless you'd need to get coolers.

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maifleur01

It can be done but you might check to see if there is a CSA or church/community group that already does it. If it is like the one that I am familiar with you will need several large coolers which will keep cool things cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There will always be someone that cannot make the stop for whatever reason. You will need to plan what to do in that case. The spot also needs to be a place that is out of the weather. Expect people to complain that they would have picked out better things.

You also need to check with your insurance agent and an attorney on how to cover your liability.

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Lucille

Get business insurance. Check if in your state there is strict liability when providing food, and if so whether delivery places you in the 'stream of commerce' that may possibly place you at risk.

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eld6161

Can you use the service that is in place in your own neighborhood as a blueprint of sorts?

I think it is great that you are offering a much needed service, but asSocks mentioned, will your profit be worthwhile?


Playing Devil's Advocate, I can see many issues. Keeping things refrigerated would be a big one. Then the distribution. I would have the neighbors come to your home. You could have an extra fridge for this purpose. There will always be someone not showing up or being late. This way you can be in the comfort of your own home.I would get money up front. This way, if they are a no show you have nothing to lose.


Paying upfront may be off putting at first, but you get used to it. My cobbler does this as many people did not pick up their shoes, ever! There is a dry cleaner in the next town that gets payment when you drop off.


Aa far as delivery directly, I would only do that with a really big order.


You need to calculate mileage as well.

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Annette Holbrook(z7a)

Thanks guys. The draw to my service idea is getting items from a particular store or 2 that carries house brand items that people want that particular item. This is a store that actually has online fan groups that post about items and recipes and such. I don’t think these are even items you can get on Amazon. Or if you can, they are way more expensive for some reason. I checked and my favorite soup that I buy in the store for about $3 is $9 on Amazon! There is no Amazon same day or next day in this area, too remote. Most of my prime “2 day” orders end up taking 3 days lol.

I actually already have 2 coolers that plug into car adapters so was thinking those plus a few extra regular coolers may do the trick.

I’m thinking a percentage per order with a minimum may be the best option. As I’m already driving down there once a week to do maintenance on my house that I still have there I may try a test run to see if there is interest or if it’s even worthwhile.


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ritaweeda

I think it would be a lot of work but if it's something that you don't mind doing, hey, have at it. I can see where there would be people who could use a service like that but if they are that needy for it they would also have difficulty going to a central pick-up place to get it, too. Unless they were still able to drive and it could be loaded into their vehicle, but then what about when they get it home? I would think that people who really need this would need it to be delivered to their home or it wouldn't be usable.

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nicole___

I'm guessing you could charge $20 a person for your service X 3 a day = $60 a day

Not worth it to me.....

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maifleur01

This is one of the things that you need to check out the legal issues to protect yourself and any assets you have first before trying it. Having had a business you should already be aware that using your private vehicle for business purposes can invalidate your insurance.

Not certain where you live but along with the cost of the food you will need to include any taxes on it. Having a friend live where food is not taxed I am aware of at least one state which at the time he last visited did not tax food.

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yeonassky

For what it's worth our Canadian Superstore offers a pick up service for around $5. If your store offers that even if it costs more and you did that you could save time. What I like aside from not shopping till I drop which seems to be 20 minutes after starting nowadays is that you get the groceries at a set time.

Our local organic delivery food only service SPUDS uses dry ice to keep things cold.

I am seriously thinking of starting a dog daycare/ kennel and wondered if you would say a few words about your experience and why you closed down if it's not too much of an imposition.

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Uptown Gal

I know all areas are different, but here you can call in orders to local grocery stores and they will load them for you at a special "take-out door" when you come by to pick them up. Yes, you have to go pick them up, but you don't need to do any actual inside shopping or loading the groceries.

You mentioned that your customers would meet you somewhere and take

their groceries from your truck. Here, they would just go to the store for

the same thing. Wal-Mart in this area also does this service....as well as

the two largest groceries....and maybe more that I don't know about. As

I said, though, have no knowledge of your area like you do.

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Michael

What is considered a living wage in the area? If you can't earn a living wage, it's not a good investment of time. You'll be doing others a favor at your expense.

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eld6161

I agree with Michael. The one plus is that you have to go there anyway to check on your property.

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Anglophilia

I know a young man who started a similar business in NYC several years ago. He buys things on request from Costco and delivers them in Manhattan. I think it’s been pretty successful but he hd a LOT of capital behind him (family money, wife a partner in a Wall St law firm). https://www.monstersavings.com

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bpath Oh Sophie

Sounds like how Market Day got started. It turned into a fundraiser for schools. I used it for years.

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chisue

Our town has a Farmers Market once a week in summer, held around the RR station plus one blocked main street. No problem with the town dedicating public property for the event, but maybe for you? You'd have a problem in my town if you tried to have people come to your home -- running a business within residential zoning. You'd need a business license anyway, and would need to collect and submit taxes. Your house might be taxed at a higher rate as a business.

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Michael

My community has deed restrictions including home based businesses. You may have a home based business. However, your business customers are not permitted to come to your house. Your business must be registered with local authorities and the HOA is required to notify all members about the existence of home based business.

There was a couple in my neighborhood requesting a permit to make bar soap. The deed restriction does not permit any (manufacturing, creating products from raw materials or components) type business.

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