Jason Griffin of Tour Salt Spring and Janice Harkley of Salt Spring Mercantile have partnered to provide the convenience of home delivery to most locations on Salt Spring on Friday afternoons. Orders can be made at Salt Spring Mercantile’s Online Market: https://saltspringmercantile.getpayd.com/ or by email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime during the week. To learn more about how they are building community resilience, please read our two-part Q&A below.
Tour Salt Spring - Q & A with Jason Griffin, Owner
Q: Tour Salt Spring is re-purposing its tour vans. One is a small plug-in hybrid, and the other two are large vans run on 100% waste vegetable oil. It's wonderful to see you move from sustainable tour operator to a sustainable delivery service. How has your new delivery service been received?
A: I've been getting positive feedback, but I haven't yet made any announcements to the general public. I'm starting with getting in touch with farmers and businesses and will advertise publicly once I have some businesses signed up. I did a big push yesterday to connect with farmers, so it's too soon to make any conclusions, but I'm hoping to see more response.
Q: How were you able to re-purpose your vans to go from Tour operator to delivery service?
A: Each van needs to be re-registered from unscheduled bus designation to delivery vehicle, and insured accordingly with ICBC. The passenger seats of my larger vans are removed, and I will be adding shelving, insulated box/coolers, and other modifications to make them suitable for transporting various types of goods.
Q: What kinds of recommendations do you have for locals interested in supporting your endeavour?
A: Watch our website Tour Salt Spring and the Salt Spring Exchange for announcements and details of how this will work. We will have a web page listing the businesses that we deliver for. We will be making the service to most types of businesses, so if people don't see a particular business on our list, they can inquire with the business and/or let us know.
Salt Spring Mercantile - Q & A with Janice Harkley, Owner
Q: How long did it take for the Mercantile to build an on-line Market for locals?
A: About 2 weeks. The bulk of the time was spent in ensuring that inventory of the items we have available online is correct. The site is powered by Moneris. When we first opened in 2012 we had EXCELLENT advice from Island Saving Credit Union to consider using what was then called the Morris software (now Payd Pro Plus) that is directly connected to the Moneris debit/credit terminals. We spoke to Dave Lettinga at Imagine That Graphics about doing a PDF fill-able form of the email order form we have on our website, which we called Phase 3. Phase 4 was to go online, but we thought it was weeks away in the future. But, he and I had it ready to launch April 9 and it went live the following week due to tech support at Moneris being away for the long weekend.
Q: How has it been received?
A: Not being used enough; we’re still getting the word out. We’re hopeful it will be used more regularly once folks know it’s available to them.
Q: What kinds of recommendations do you have for local businesses looking to provide online shopping?
A: We were fortunate because the reason we were able to put the online market together so quickly is that we already had an unused feature of our software available. I would say that the world post Covid-19 will be so different. So an investment in an online store is exactly that, an investment in the future. We were super lucky that we didn’t have to invest a lot of money because of our existing software.
I always knew we needed to arrange delivery, but I also knew we did not have the capacity. So partnering with locals, being Dave at Imagine That, who discovered that we already had what we needed in our software, or Jason at Tour Salt Spring, who is providing delivery, has been key. And I will put this out there – if you look at how products are arranged in the Online Market, you will see any Salt Spring produced product has two listings, one in the type of product it is, and one by producer. We haven’t quite finished putting the products on for our existing local suppliers, hindered only by ensuring that what we show in inventory is correct and sometimes, by lack of a "UPC" so we have to assign a code to each unique product. We've already had one market vendor contact us, and her products will be live as soon as she delivers them. The back end is already done. It has always been our intent to contact other vendors that we do not currently necessarily even know about, and offer to purchase some of their product to increase the variety of items available online.
Besides getting the word out locally to producers to purchase products, if there was someone out there that had a passion for parcel shipping off island that we could tap into...that would be great!