Two students are trying to make it easier for students without a car to get much needed groceries without relying solely on stores close to campus like White Market and Village Corner.
Started in November 2009 by LSA freshmen Lukas Garske and Michael Zhang, Ann Arbor Grocery Delivery is a new student-run business that offers students same-day grocery deliveries at a smaller markup than local grocery stores, the students said.
The business was developed last semester and started delivering last month. Garske and Zhang are currently running the business single-handedly, though Zhang said once they get more costumers they plan to hire an additional driver.
Zhang said he’s been wanting to start his own business for a while. Though a grocery delivery service wasn’t his original idea, he decided it would be a good investment after conducting some research.
“This business idea actually provides a service that is really needed,” Zhang said.
Garske and Zhang buy non-perishable items in bulk from Sam’s Club and all other groceries from Meijer and sell them to students at a 15- to 25-percent markup price on average, which is 24 percent cheaper than White Market’s prices and 34 percent cheaper than Village Corner’s prices, according to the students’ business plans.
“Convenience stores know they can mark up a lot because they know they’re most students’ only option,” Garske said. “They do this because they know they can get away with it.”
Garske said the business is also involved with MPowered Entrepreneurship, a student organization focused on fostering student entrepreneurship at the University.
Engineering sophomore Devin Min, a member of MPowered, wrote in an e-mail interview that the Student Start-up Outreach Program — a sub-group of MPowered that provides consulting to student start-ups — is working with Ann Arbor Grocery Delivery.
“They approached us asking for help,” Min wrote. “We, as a team, analyze the problem they are facing and brainstorm what the best possible solution is.”
Min wrote that he thinks the grocery delivery service is a worthwhile business venture, as many students don’t have easy access to affordable groceries.
“We like to think (that) every venture has potential to expand and become successful,” he wrote. “Knowing students are in need of groceries and how they complain about other resources given to them, we feel that this venture can make a huge impact on campus.”
Zhang said the business currently has about 190 items available for delivery, but they have plans to add more.
Garske said they currently have about 20 paying customers and are working toward promoting their brand image through posting signs in Angell Hall and setting up stands in the Diag to allow students to sign up and receive a free delivery of sampler groceries. Zhang said they also plan on doing market research on how to attract more students.
“What we’re trying to let students know is that our business is convenient, fast and cheap,” he said.
Engineering freshman Varun Annadi wrote in an e-mail interview that he found out about the business through a Facebook group invitation.
“I chose to use their service because I noticed that their website was well organized and their delivery schedule seemed well planned and regular,” Annadi wrote. “I was enticed by the prospect of having groceries delivered to me at prices that were clearly less than those at local grocery stores.”
Annadi wrote that he is “thoroughly satisfied” with the Ann Arbor Grocery Delivery’s services and plans to continue using it.
“I have no desire to go back to paying more at local convenience stores for items that could be delivered to me for a cheaper rate,” he wrote. “It is hassle free and completely reliable.”