Personal shopping business opens in Lawrence to provide home delivery from stores locally and in KC area
photo by: AP File Photo
As evidenced by the strain on my elastic waistband, it is easy to get groceries or a restaurant meal delivered to your home during this pandemic. But, eventually, the waistband breaks and you wish someone would deliver you a belt — or, at least, window shades. Now, a new Lawrence company is open for that wide-ranging type of delivery.
Carried Out got its start in Albuquerque, N.M., earlier this year but recently has chosen Lawrence as its first expansion community. Lawrence resident Peter Rinn is a co-founder of the company, and he said it had become clear that residents needed a delivery service that went beyond the traditional food offerings. And that means it needs to go beyond just delivery.
“It really is a personal shopping business,” Rinn said.
The idea is that customers — people can buy a monthly membership or pay a higher rate for each outing — provide a list of items to be purchased. That could mean a run to the hardware store, or some clothes shopping, or maybe a visit to a boutique to pick up a gift. Rinn said Carried Out basically will shop at any store in Lawrence. Delivery times are either same day or next day, depending on how early customers place the order.
People who buy the $60-per-year membership also can pay a separate fee to have the company shop at popular locations in the Kansas City area, such as Sam’s Club, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and several other locations.
“We really shop for everything from A to Z,” Rinn said.
Yes, that does include groceries, which has been one of the bigger categories for the business in Albuquerque, despite there being several competitors in the market. Rinn believes that is because the Carried Out system doesn’t involve a lot of automation or filling out computer forms. Most of the time it just involves a phone call or connecting through the company’s website at carriedoutllc.com.
“Our uniqueness is you don’t get a computer program,” Rinn said. “You get us. Our motto really is that we put the personal back into personal shopping.”
So much so that members end up having the phone number of their personal shopper.
“The neat thing is that if you give us an order and we’re still at the store when you realize you forgot something, you can just call us,” Rinn said.
Rinn said the company strives to give members the same personal shopper each trip. That allows the shopper to get to know the tastes and preferences of the customer, such as how ripe they like their peaches or what they precisely mean when they say they want a sky-blue shirt.
He said that type of service is popular with people who don’t like all the technology involved with making an online order through a retailer. But Rinn said people who do like online ordering can continue to do that, and simply pay Carried Out a fee to pick up the merchandise when it is ready at the store.
As for fees, the company charges a fee equal to 25% of the total amount of goods purchased, with a $25 minimum charge. People who buy a membership, though, pay a fee equal to 20% of the total amount of goods purchased, with a $20 minimum charge. Some services require an extra fee. Trips for Kansas City, for example, have a $10 surcharge, and the service is only available to members. Trips with stops at multiple stores also may incur an extra fee. Unlike some of the popular food and meal delivery services, Carried Out doesn’t charge a fee to the store or restaurant that is selling the goods.
“We are not working for businesses, restaurants or grocery stores,” Rinn said. “This is really consumer based.”
The company also has created a program where it donates 5% of its profits to a local nonprofit. Currently, the designated nonprofit is the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
The company started its Lawrence service at the beginning of the month. It hopes to expand its offerings in Lawrence, but Rinn acknowledged one of the prime expansion goals is a tricky one: liquor stores.
“It is a challenge with the state’s liquor laws, but we are working with a local liquor store on it,” Rinn said.
Even if that project doesn’t pan out, Rinn said he thinks there is good growth opportunity in Lawrence. While people’s activity levels may indeed increase after the pandemic, Rinn thinks there will be some aspects of shopping that remain changed.
“Because we are really developing a personal shopping experience, I think there is a good opportunity long term with this type of business,” he said. “The ability to shop (in) Kansas City for people, for example, seems to be popular. People are still going to be excited to save time and gas and wear and tear.”