Marketplace: A shopping service checks out Park City
Park City Grocery Express aims to take stress out of vacations
Park City bills itself as a paradise nestled in the Wasatch Mountains. Thousands of vacationers flock to town each year to ski world-class slopes, and many others choose the town as a second home for the same reason.
But one thing is certain to take visitors out of the illusion of mountain bliss, dragging them back into the real world: a trip to a crowded grocery store. That’s where Cindy Ryan and her son, Will, come in. They recently started Park City Grocery Express, a grocery delivery service that aims to take away one of the major stress points for people coming to town for extended stays.
They had been thinking about opening the company for years but finally began taking orders in November. The Ryans, who are flush with entrepreneurial spirit, said the idea intrigued them because they are actually passionate about grocery shopping. Whereas most view it as a tiresome errand, Cindy said there’s nothing more relaxing to her than grabbing a cup of coffee and strolling through the aisles of a local grocery store.
“It’s just been really fun,” she said, adding that she’s taken classes on wine, cheese and meat to become even more educated about shopping. “I love food, I love high-quality food and I love grocery shopping, believe it or not. On Sunday morning, I go in early just to scan and check the prices and see what’s new on the shelves. It’s something that I’ve loved to do for a long time.”
So far, they said the company is proving to be a hit. Cindy used to work as a driver for a local taxi company and described bringing visitors into town whose first stop would be the grocery store. Now, they skip that step and instead enter Park City to a stocked refrigerator and full cupboards. The Ryans even wash the produce and stage it in decorative bowls.
“We’ve had people who have never used a service like this but they’ve heard about it, and they say they will do it again,” Cindy said, adding that the company will also deliver groceries for full-time Park City residents who don’t want to deal with the hassle of shopping. “It’s great to get that feedback.”
Park City Grocery Express accepts online or telephone orders 24 hours a day, and the Ryans deliver from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additionally, they shop on the day orders are to be delivered to ensure freshness, and are able to accommodate special dietary requests for people with gluten allergies or who prefer to eat organic food.
And after an order is placed, the Ryans carefully look it over to ensure nothing was left out.
“If we notice they’re buying cream, but there’s no coffee, we say, ‘You know what? Do you need any coffee with that?’” Cindy said. “There’s nothing worse than when they’re coming in, day or night, and discover they forgot something in their groceries. Let’s just get it done right the first time.”
Will added that the shopping sessions can get intense because they’re filling several orders at once. One time, he recalled, they arrived at Smith’s just before midnight because that’s when the employees were restocking the items they needed for a customer.
“When they’re out of items, you have to go in there when they start restocking what you need,” he said. “I think we left there at 1:30 or 2 o’clock in the morning, then woke up a few hours later to get some more items for this one order. It was, like, a 13-page order. It was pretty wild.”
More than delivering groceries, the Ryans have made doing it in an environmentally friendly way a keystone of their company. They use recyclable bags to collect groceries, and after deliveries, they recycle things like cardboard drink packaging and plastic for their customers. They also provide optional recycling bins for clients to use while in town.
Additionally, they deliver groceries in two Toyota Prius hybrid cars. Given that they fulfill several orders at a time, they said they’re doing their part to lower the carbon footprint because it keeps several other cars off the road each day.
“We knew we wanted to be different,” Will said. “We knew we wanted to do it with an eco-minded business philosophy.”
Park City Grocery Express
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