Many businesses are suffering due to the novel coronavirus, but one local startup is seeing up to four times the transactions it had before the pandemic.
It’s not Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates or Grubhub. You probably haven’t heard of it: It’s called Skip the Trip Delivery.
Owner and delivery driver Katie O’Daniel, 35, started Skip the Trip about five months ago to bring food delivery to the Camas and Washougal communities. O’Daniel grew up in Washougal and said many of those major food delivery services don’t reach parts of Camas and Washougal; some addresses stretch into rural areas nearing the Columbia River Gorge.
“Surprisingly, one of the worries we had when we opened was what if we end up somewhere without cellphone service? When (drivers) go to hit ‘en route,’ they can hit ‘Give me the GPS coordinates for the house,’ ” O’Daniel said. “It makes it so it’s really simple. The GPS coordinates take you right to it. We’re lucky, because the people who live up in those areas will provide clear directions.”
And another thing — you won’t find chain restaurants on Skip the Trip. She is only welcoming locally owned restaurants.
Marcie Wilcox, who owns Squeeze and Grind coffee and pastry shop in Camas, is one of them. She attended high school with O’Daniel.
“It started in the midst of all this, when the pandemic started. We’re like, ‘Well, we’re seeing less people wanting to come out,’ so we reached out to Katie,” Wilcox said. “I had talked to her before, because we wanted to give it a try in general to have another option for people, but this pushed me forward into making this happen.”
We caught up with O’Daniel to ask her some questions about the new business.
Tell me about yourself: We moved to Washougal when I was 7. I graduated in 2002 from Washougal High School. Now we have a 5 1/2 -year-old son. I was a stay-at-home mom for years. Prior to doing the business, I worked at Ray Hickey Hospice House for a long time. I also did nursing assisting. Our son started kindergarten this year. Then I started to think about what I wanted to do when he was in school. It just kind of ended up developing — I used to work at Bellagio’s Pizza all through high school. I delivered from there when I was going to school for nursing school and for dental. Then when my mom kept telling me — she’s a nurse — “We order from this place, and they are missing this or that.”
What do you do day to day? I do all the hiring and scheduling of drivers. We do a week out. I do all the updating of our website and marketing. It changes every day. It depends on the calls I get from customers and restaurant owners. I’m the go-to for the drivers, too. I’m working 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. But to be honest, my phone starts ringing at 9 in the morning and who knows what time in the evening. We just started delivering alcohol, beer and wine with the stay-at-home order, so today I was making sure we’re all covered for that. I also jump in and drive.
WORKING IN CLARK COUNTY
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How has business been different since the pandemic started? We were only about 4 1/2 months into the business, five months in. We were staying steady and staying afloat. Since the pandemic started — once the restaurants closed, it really changed. We’ve tripled, if not quadrupled, the amount of deliveries. We’re a lot busier. We’ve also been hit left and right with new restaurants wanting on. I’m pretty much working around the clock. I don’t really have much time away from the computer, the phone or being out in the field.
What are your hopes for the future? I would like to be able to see as many locally owned restaurants to be on with us. That’s one of the best things for us. I love knowing we’re supporting them. We are eventually going to expand into the east Vancouver area. We already have some territory up to the hospital, but I’ve been focused on the Camas-Washougal area. We’re starting a workplace delivery to streamline to workplaces; it’s a different type of a program. We also have plans to eventually add in convenience store delivery, so we can pick up a gallon of milk or anything that’s needed.
Why do you think it’s important to help sustain these local businesses? These owners go through a great deal of effort and stress and extra funds to keep these running. Nothing against corporations at all, they run the world, too, but they have extra funding and ways and means for things to be done. It’s important for us to sustain them, because if they go out, all we have is corporations. They care about the community in the same way we do. They’re not out to just get the extra dollar from you.