When you go on vacation, the last thing you want to do is go grocery shopping.
You might have had a long flight, you might not know the area you are visiting, or worse, you might have been tasked with shopping for a large family.
On the Emerald Coast, you’ve got options if you want to go straight from the plane to the beach. For a flat shopping and delivery rate, plus a percentage of the grocery bill, you can have everything from food to beach items stocked in your home.
The Beach Butlers
Bobbi Griggs established The Beach Butlers in 2004. She said when she came to the Emerald Coast to vacation with her own family she was surprised to see there were no grocery delivery services for tourists.
“At that time there weren’t that many grocery stores,” Griggs said. “It was late. It would have been nice if we could have called someone.”
So she found a solution.
“We were familiar with a grocery service in Utah,” Griggs said. “So we met with them to see if it would be a model appropriate for the needs in this area.”
Since then, Griggs said her business has grown “leaps and bounds.” Most of her customers are tourists that use it each time they vacation. She has two employees, herself and her husband, who work out of their home in Rosemary
“We tried an employee based (model), but we felt the service we wanted to provide was better with two people,” Griggs said. “We like our presentation to be a wow factor. We like to take that next step so (customers) are
Griggs’ business was one of the first in the area, but she soon got competition. She said that’s not her focus, though.
“I focus on providing a personal shopping experience,” she said. “You enjoy the shore while we stand at the store.”
The Beach Butlers serves Panama City Beach, Destin, Sandestin and Scenic Highway 30A. During tourist season they deliver Friday through Sunday on an “as needed basis,” Griggs said.
Destin Grocery Girls
Fran Forston has worked in grocery retail her entire life. Even after she started Destin Grocery Girls in 2012, she kept her job at her local grocery store.
“Working in a grocery store, I heard tourists complaining,” Forston said.
And with that, she found her break into the tourism industry. Forston works from home and likes to get groceries from her job. She has seven employees who deliver. Business started out slow, but last year she said she
saw triple the number of clients.
“I feel like I know them and I’ve only met a dozen (clients),” Forston said. “I focus on giving specialized service. I give them a welcome.”
This year, Forston has looked to expand services to residents, even though her main clients are vacationing families. She shops as if she was shopping for herself.
“I don’t try to buy the most expensive items,” Forston said. “(Customers) get (it on) sale or buy one get one free. The more they save, the more they can spend of vacation.”
Destin Grocery Girls delivers Friday through Sunday during tourist seasons. It serves Destin, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, south Okaloosa County, Navarre Beach, Gulf Breeze, Santa Rosa Beach
and Scenic Highway 30A. Visitors should ask about Panama City Beach and Pensacola.
Be My Shopper
By day, Kevin Schmidt is a teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School. When school lets out, he’s the owner of Be My Shopper. After using a grocery delivery service while vacationing with his family in Utah, he brought the idea to Fort
Walton Beach in 2012.
“It’s been great,” Schmidt said. “We are growing every year by 100 percent.”
Schmidt employs 10 people, mostly local high school and college students and teachers who do the shopping and delivering themselves.
In season, he said they have 20 to 30 deliveries a day. They average about one local a month.
“We (deliver) anything that’s at the store,” Schmidt said. “We don’t deliver alcohol. Most people aren’t doing the big meals. It’s necessities.”
Schmidt said his clients are mainly repeats and larger families who have week long vacations.
“It’s all presentation,” he said. “The goal is to get in before them.”
As his business grows and the area becomes more of a year-round vacation spot, Schmidt said he will look into other avenues like resident delivery and delivery to more locations.
“It’s a priority to make people happier,” he said. “We are the biggest and the best, and it shows.”
Be My Shopper delivers from Fort Walton Beach to Rosemary Beach Monday through Saturday.
They hope to branch out into Panama City Beach, Orange Beach and Pensacola.