By Janeen Norman. Originally posted on Bestofcalgaryfoods.ca
Delicious, local and direct to your door — shopping for food has never been better.
Enter Best of Calgary Foods — the name says it all. A top-drawer food delivery service that brings 24 of Calgary’s culinary legends and artisan foods together under one umbrella and delivers them straight to your door. Best of Calgary Foods provides a tasty, time-saving amalgamation of the city’s best edible offerings that is revolutionizing how foodies shop.
What we’ve created together is truly remarkable and even trail-blazing. We are:
the first owner-operated delivery company in Calgary
made up of over 60% female entrepreneurs
culturally diverse in our offerings
supporting local businesses and keeping all revenue in Calgary
Good start, right? The story of our inception is even more compelling. It answers the question of why we embarked on this journey together…and why now!
“Alberta is my home and I’ve never been more proud to call myself a Calgarian. We’ve weathered fires, floods, drought, recession and now Covid-19. How did we get through all of this? Community. Helping each other. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Best of Calgary Foods collective—making sure to take care of each other in these challenging times. With your support, we can survive this and more.” Kelly Long, Noble Premium Bison
Like all good stories, it starts with the perfect storm.
The beginning of 2020 was nothing like this generation has ever seen before in our fine city – a global pandemic doubled-down by a severe downturn in the economy. Small business was hit hard and it only looked like it was going to get worse.
Back track a few years, some members of our Collective were at a farmer’s market together that struggled valiantly until it eventually closed. We had made friends there and promised to keep in touch. One of the members had the idea of going online with our businesses. But life happened, we all got busy in our new locations and we never seemed to get around to it. However, the seed was planted in the back of our minds and it stayed there until it was awoken by the perfect storm.
Now, fast-forward to the beginning of 2020 – lock downs, small businesses forced to close, customers afraid to leave their homes, job losses, economy tanking. A terrible new reality. It was clear that small businesses had to do something before they became another unfortunate statistic.
And indeed, we tried all sorts of things to keep our small businesses afloat – curbside delivery, driving around the city with their own deliveries, hiring expensive couriers. This seemed to work alright for the short-term, but it also revealed other unforeseen implications to what we were all doing.
One, we were 24 companies on the road using up a whole lot of gas, increasing the carbon footprint.
Two, many of our shared customers were paying delivery fees two and three times over with each delivery from each company.
And three, we were now trying to be couriers in addition to trying to run our businesses. This took us away from our places of business at the most critical time in our history and when we were most needed in our shops.
Many of us tried third-party delivery companies, distributors and wholesalers. The results were a mixed bag of small successes, major disappointments, and down-right highway robbery. Most of our companies could not afford the fees and commission, or at least not in any way that was sustainable to our businesses. And it was even more than that—none of the companies that we were engaged with were actually from Calgary, which meant that all of those revenues were not only leaving our own companies but leaving our city at a time when it so desperately needed to stay here.
Some of us were even online or trying to get online quickly. While this helped, the problem here is that as one company in a vast forest of the internet, you are but one tree. It’s plenty hard to find you.
“Our whole brand is based on “it takes a village.” How could we pass up an opportunity to work with such an incredible group like this? Proud to be a part of this amazing culinary village.” Jim Button and Tom Stuart, Village Brewery
There had to be a better way!
So we gathered up our best foodie friends, who gathered up their best foodie friends and soon we were no longer just single trees blowing in the wind but our very own little forest. And our story of small businesses struggling for survival became a story of self-determination and self-empowerment.
And the story doesn’t end there. We’re already helping other small businesses in other cities pull together their own Collectives, so they can realize the same level of self-actualization that we have. We will also be including other small businesses in Calgary as guest members, so that we can continue to help others like us survive this storm. We want to help lift as we rise.
Who knows how far we will be able to take this? Maybe we’ll just be able to help a small group of businesses take the first steps toward sustainability like we did ourselves. Or maybe with a little support, we’ll be able to gain enough momentum to help spark a whole movement. But wouldn’t it be great, if we could say that it all started with 24 small business mavericks in Calgary who dared to dream? Time will tell.
We hope you’ll join us on our journey. We are honoured by your support of our small businesses, and offer a deeply felt thank you.
“This collective of small businesses is remarkable. We have created the only delivery service that is fully owner-operated. Together, we are a group of industry mavericks blazing a trail for other small businesses to follow and take back their power. Isn’t that pioneer, fire-in-your belly mentality just so "Calgary"? We are already reaching out to other small businesses in other cities across the country to help them start their own collective. This is the beginning of a new movement in small business self-determination and self-empowerment, and it all started in our fine city! Rise up!” Dannah Davies, Sweetsmith Candy Company