Photo: Kat’s Delivery offers contactless delivery as demonstrated on a Portland resident’s porch.
In March, Katrina “Kat” Reffner found herself in the same positions as millions of Americans –unemployed. She had been working as a bartender, and due to the shutdowns in Oregon from COVID-19, now had to find a new source of income.
She noticed one of the effects of the pandemic was that more people were using grocery delivery services. Could she do something similar on her own? She did some research and came across a company called Dumpling.
“It’s a platform that offers tech support and billing support for individuals who want to start their own grocery delivery business,” says Kat. She signed up with them and launched her own business at the beginning of April called Kat’s Delivery.
She advertises on Google, Facebook and Nextdoor, so once people find her, they download the Dumpling app, and start building their shopping list.
Kat explains that with some other online grocery options, they charge their own prices on items. With her, you pay in-store prices, and all of her fees are transparent.
She also offers the feature of choosing items from multiple stores. “Say you wanted things from Costco and New Seasons,” Kat explains. “You can place an order for both stores, and you are going to get that delivered at the same time.”
When she shops, she focuses on one order at a time, and when she is done, she immediately delivers the groceries.
Also, if a customer has one or two items that aren’t available at the original store, she will go to another store to try and find that item, or communicate with the client to see if there is a suitable replacement.
Another thing she likes to do is if she finds hard to find items, she will get as many as the store allows and then let her clients know, or even gives them away as gifts. “Here’s a bonus gift with your order – some Clorox wipes or some Lysol spray,” says Kat. “Just because I know how hard those things are to find right now. I used to give my clients flowers as little thank you gifts, but I figured that cleaning products are a little more important than flowers.”
Kat offers other services like custom gift baskets, product deliveries for local businesses and catering deliveries for local restaurants.
“I was also offering farmer’s market (items) in June, so that was an additional seasonal service,” says Kat. “I send out a monthly newsletter to my clients that include the extra services I offer.”
She considers herself more of a personal shopper and assistant. “I can do more than just go get your groceries for you,” says Kat. “I help some of my clients refill their propane tanks; I pick up their mail from the post office; I will go to the liquor store and get your Bloody Mary mix – I really want to be able to get people what they need, especially during these times.”
Safety is also a top priority for Kat. “I spray my car down between each delivery,” she says. “Once I get the groceries and put them in the back, I spray them down with Lysol – with the exception of fresh fruit. I’m not going to spray your peaches with Lysol!”
She also changes her mask several times throughout the day, is continuously washing/sanitizing her hands, and does contactless delivery. “I’ll unload your stuff and send you a message saying, ‘Hey, your stuff’s on the porch.’”
She admits her new business is keeping her busy, but once someone places an order, she can get it to them the next day.
“I didn’t really expect it to take off the way that it did,” admits Kat. “I thought, ‘This will get me by for the next few months while the world goes crazy,’ and I ended up just loving it.”
Kat says that it’s much better than bartending, and she likes waking up and being a “normal” person. “I wake up and have my coffee instead of going to bed at 3 am,” she says. “My whole demeanor has changed. I’m so happy, my anxiety is less – it’s just been a blessing.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/katsdeliverypdx/ or find Kat’s page on Dumpling here. If you are outside of Portland, visit shop.dumpling.us and enter in your zip code for a list of personal shoppers in your area.