Home grocery delivery catching on 

Entrepreneurs offering convenience, banking on sector growth

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The busy holiday season is over and we're all getting back to our routines. For most that includes regular trips to the grocery store.

Home delivery of groceries is a growing business segment that has caught on in the Sea to Sky corridor. Many farms up and down the corridor are working with delivery companies or offering their own box service.

At least three companies are putting significant effort into marketing their full-service offerings. Glenn Mishaw with Green Earth Organics is offering delivery to the entire corridor, West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. Sea to Sky Organics is delivering groceries to residents in Lions Bay, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton while inspirEarth is serving Whistler and Pemberton.

The sector has become a busy one since 1997 when Vancouver's Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (SPUD) launched. In the last few years smaller local operations have sprung up. Companies like the three in this region aren't alone. The Sunshine Coast is being served by Coastal Organics, a small operator focusing on delivering food and groceries to a small market area. Similar companies are operating in other communities.

Mishaw got into the business after doing 18 months of research. He saw an opportunity to buy into a franchise, a business run by an old friend of his for the past 14 years. Mishaw bought the franchise and started operating his Green Earth Organics franchise in September with the support of his friend's infrastructure.

The jump into his new business is part of a lifestyle change Mishaw's family has made. That change includes eating as much organic food as his family can get.

"A lot of the products we carry you can get in a grocery store," says Mishaw. "This is really a very convenient service."

According to the new business owner, the model is about lowering the impact customers have on their environment. He says his customers don't have to worry about driving to the grocery store, dealing with parking and then waiting in lines.

The former real estate agent says he's working the business from top to bottom with support from his business partners. He's marketing the service, packaging the boxes at his warehouse in Squamish then delivering the groceries to his customers.

Lana Martin of Sea to Sky Organics and Jerry Backer of inspirEarth Organics are doing much the same thing.

Customers who use the services offered by Martin, Backer and Mishaw are finding that the prices are competitive with grocery stores.

Mishaw notes that a big difference offered by the delivery services is the lack of packaging.

"We don't package anything so you're saving tonnes of plastic," he says. "We just put the food in the bin. I think that is important."

Becoming a customer is as easy as searching for a provider on the Internet, signing up as a customer then placing an order through the online order systems used by the companies.

For those committed to making 2013 a little less hectic than last year, spending less time at the grocery store is one way to fulfill that commitment.

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