The world is a very different place than it was 6 weeks ago. Six weeks ago, Boxcar was a parking app, connecting commuters in NJ, MA, NY, CT and CA who needed a spot with property owners who had extra capacity. Once people stopped commuting, though, that all changed. After a week of brainstorming, I talked to a friend whose family owns a local produce supplier. Now that schools and hotels weren’t buying produce, they had extra inventory, but no way to get it to consumers. From that conversation, Boxcar’s contactless grocery pickup was born.
Over our first 3 weeks of grocery pickups, we’ve gotten 26.5 tons of produce to consumers in New Jersey, instead of letting it go to waste. With the help of some great press, what started as a local idea in Madison and Cranford has spread to 5 different NJ counties (with more on the way). And now, I’m excited to announce that we are partnering with Yankee Line to bring the same high-quality, contactless grocery pickup service to the Boston area, starting with Newton!
Yankee Line has long been a trusted Boxcar partner. They are dedicated to providing the best service possible, which is one of the many reasons we like working with them. They have a great network in the Boston area, and were looking for a way to keep their staff employed while transportation needs were low. After a conversation with Mike Costa from Yankee, I knew this was a partnership that would work out well for our companies, the region’s food chain, and consumers trying to source fresh produce. Starting Wednesday, April 29, customers in the Newton, Mass. area will be able to get their own BoxcarBasics grocery delivery, powered by the great employees of Yankee Line. The pickup will be in the Riverside MBTA parking lot. Customers with a reservation can just pull in, pop their trunk, and we’ll load everything.
In addition to helping keep the Boxcar team busy in these difficult times, this company pivot has taught me more about our nation’s food supply chain than I could have ever imagined. If customers stop buying food, distributors like Gargiulo’s stop ordering it. That means that farmer’s growing the produce or dairy products aren’t getting paid, and often can’t afford to replant for next season. It also means that truck drivers who transport the produce, as well as those who tend and harvest it, will be out of work. If that happens, we could be facing empty shelves in the grocery store just when life is getting back to normal. But by getting the food to the folks who need it with options like BoxcarBasics, we can keep that supply chain intact so it’s there in the weeks and months ahead.
Our contactless pickups also cut down on the number of trips (and related anxiety) customers have to make to grocery stores, while still having access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
For our first three years in business, Boxcar worked to simplify commuting. We’ll be back to that again soon, but in the meantime, I’m thrilled we can help simplify groceries, and help keep things running smoothly.