By Kathy Mitchell
Discovering that there’s no milk or aspirin or dishwashing detergent in the house when it’s greatly needed and time is short, can be a great frustration and inconvenience. A group of college students in Pennsylvania saw among their busy fellow students the need to get small, but essential items quickly and a new business was created.
The business, goPuff, has since its founding in 2013 gone nationwide and recently launched a micro-fulfillment center in the Clarkson area of DeKalb County. Focusing on what the company identifies as “immediate everyday essentials,” goPuff stocks more than 3,000 items, including grocery needs, over-the-counter medicine, baby products, pet supplies and cleaning products. The 4,000-square-foot micro-fulfillment center in DeKalb County is the newest of seven such facilities in Georgia.
“We are thrilled to expand our service in Georgia and begin delivering everyday essentials to even more customers in the area. Clarkson is a vibrant area and we’re glad to become a part of the community here,” Yakir Gola, co-founder and co-CEO of goPuff, said in an announcement of the Clarkston center. Gola and roommate Rafael Ilishayev, at the time sophomores at Drexel University in Philadelphia, created the company to alleviate the amount of time and back-and-forth trips to the store to grab snacks and essentials for those who shared their townhouse. After three months of drafting mock-ups for an app, they launched a delivery service of those same convenience items around campus.
The choice of a name, according to goPuff Communications Director Liz Romaine, was the whimsy of Gola and Ilishayey’s college friends who brainstormed names then voted on their favorite.
While the business started as a service for college students, goPuff currently has customers over a wide range of ages and lifestyles. Many are young adults with demanding careers and often young children for whom time is usually at a premium, said Romaine, who added that while the business was not started as a response to COVID-19—nor did the virus cause an especially large spike in business—it has highlighted the need for such a business. Contact-free delivery through which drivers leave the items wherever the customer indicates is now available, the company reported.
There is a high demand for diapers, pet supplies, toilet paper and ice cream, Romaine said, noting that unlike home delivery services such as those that bring restaurant meals to people’s homes, goPuff has no “middle man” and delivers usually within 30 minutes. She said the company started with approximately 200 items available for delivery and has expanded the inventory into thousands of products based on customer requests. The company, she added, stocks thousands of national brands and at each center includes local favorites, as it will in Clarkston.
Deliveries are made for a flat fee and “delivery partners” are allowed to keep 100 percent of tips they receive, according to the company.
Officials at Decide DeKalb, the county’s development authority, said they are pleased to have goPuff choose the Clarkston area as their newest location. Dorian DeBarr, interim president of Decide DeKalb, remarked that goPuff “had clear objectives for the Clarkston fulfillment center, and they understood what was required for them to be successful. We worked together to see their vision come to light, and I look forward to the positive impact they will have on the community.”
Shawanna Qawiy, planning/economic and development director for the city of Clarkston, called the addition of the goPuff micro-fulfillment center to the city’s economic base “exciting,” as Clarkston, “known for its charm and racial diversity, anticipates more job opportunities coming to the area.”
Seven-year-old goPuff is headquartered in Philadelphia and currently operates more than 200 micro-fulfillment centers serving more than 500 U.S. cities.
Read the original story on TheChampionNewspaper.com.