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Student business offers alternative to Huddle

John Tierney | Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Buying groceries can be an annoyance for many Notre Dame students, especially those without access to a car. But because of the limited selection at the Huddle Mart, off-campus store runs are often necessary. Now, three business students hope to capitalize on these inconveniences with a service that will deliver groceries directly to dorm rooms.

Domer Delivery is a student-run business that purchases grocery and household items – and just about anything else someone might want – from retail stores and delivers them to a student’s dorm room for a small fee. Founded by senior Clint Gille, senior Mike Sciortino and junior Nick Zehrbach, the service receives orders for retail goods from Notre Dame and St. Mary’s students online at www.domerdelivery.com.

The students founded the business as a project for their Introduction to Entrepre-neurship class with a $40 startup loan from their professor. The goal of the assignment, called ‘The $25 Challenge,’ is to make 1,000 percent of the startup cost as profit by Thanksgiving. The $25 Challenge is the same assignment that produced the “Charlie’s Army” T-shirts last year.

“Most groups just make something and slap the Notre Dame logo on it and hope people buy it. We’re trying to do something that might help students out a little bit,” Sciortino said.

The Domer Delivery team said their service can be a great assistance to all students, even to those who have a car, because of its convenience. For those students who do not have a car, Domer Delivery offers lower prices and better selection than the Huddle and more convenience than taking the Transpo bus or a cab to the store. And for students with access to a car, Domer Delivery saves time out of the day.

According to their Web site, “all orders placed by 1 p.m. on the date of purchase will be delivered between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on that day […] All orders placed after 1 p.m. will be delivered on the next day.”

Domer Delivery charges students a 15-17.5 percent delivery fee for each order. While this fee may sound high to students, “it’s no different than what you’d tip at a restaurant,” Gille said.

More importantly, the fee is also less expensive than the markup at the Huddle. According to Gille, a Snapple at the Huddle costs $1.42, which is marked up 80 percent over the same Snapple at Martin’s. Similarly, the Huddle marks up Doritos 75 percent and Pop-Tarts 48 percent, he said.

“In comparison, our fee really isn’t that bad,” Gille said.

In the first week since Domer Delivery began posting advertisement fliers in dorms, the company filled 10 orders off its Web site for items from Draino to blacklights, Zehrbach said. More promising, however, is that one order came from a satisfied repeat customer and that the Web site is receiving 520 hits per day.

“It’s all about getting the word out right now,” Zehrbach said.

The Domer Delivery team said the open-endedness of its Web site – there is no list of things available for purchase – is just like being at the store, where the possibilities are seemingly limitless.

There are, however, a few limits to what they can deliver. According to their Web site, Domer Delivery will not purchase or deliver “any alcohol or tobacco product [or] any pornographic materials or contraceptives.”

In the long term, the Domer Delivery team hopes their venture can “help students out a little bit,” Sciortino said.

For now, they’re “just excited to get started.”