As a resident of Miami for 28 years, most people know that by day I’m a marketing and communications professional and accidental professional writer. I had written for glossy magazines for the past 10 years before founding MiMi as a way to flex creative muscles and keep readers engaged with the very best of Miami. What I hadn’t counted on was coronavirus destroying my career. Three weeks ago in a 48 hour period, I lost every single client I had – phone call after phone call of bad news due to my clients experiencing instantaneous economic devastation, and marketing and comms were the first things on the chopping block. Cue the wine.
Rather than wallow, I learned a thing or three visiting grocery stores and ordering food online. First, grocery stores seemed unsafe – not all shoppers practice social distancing and stockists, other shoppers, cashiers and bag boys were all touching my food. Second, the meat & seafood I wanted was almost always out of stock due to panicking hoarders. Third, meat & seafood was getting more expensive due to high demand and low supply, again due to hoarders.
My tech-challenged parents are 85 and 79 and do not have smart phones or the Instacart app or Amazon / Whole Foods accounts. As the most vulnerable demographic to coronavirus, I know that millions of older Americans now lack food security, my parents included. Going to the grocery store is anxious business these days. Miami is chocked with 65-90 year olds. Oh goodness, this is a problem.
So I decided to start Miami Food Co. as a social good – to give people and families access to the volumes of food they really, actually need during quarantine. I had a few goals for the business. First, fewer (unsafe) trips to the grocery store, zero out of stocks, and fewer/lower grocery app delivery fees. Second, pricing below grocery store pricing but for superior products because Miami Food Co. sells – for the very first time – restaurant-grade, top quality food that was previously destined for now-shuttered Miami restaurants (to which consumers have never had access to.) Third, to build on my long history of philanthropy and contributing to greater good, which started with my Haiti Relief work in 2010. Greater good means benefitting both the citizens of Miami (a coronavirus epicenter now) and the suppliers of meat & seafood that are clogged with inventory and employ lots of people who are job-insecure if their employers don’t move more food.
So on Monday, March 30th, I laid out my business plan. By Tuesday, March 31st suppliers were lined up. By Friday, April 3rd the website was built. By Saturday April 4th, the business was live and getting de-bugged. And on April 6th, I got the word out. Remarkably, Miami Food Co. was conceived, allianced, written, designed, built and broadcast in 5 days and conducted its first sales in 7 days.
Miami Food Co. is officially a smash hit, with orders pouring in and no-contact deliveries now being made from Pinecrest to Aventura and everywhere in between. The cases of food are surprisingly compact because there’s zero packaging beyond the vacuum-sealing. Placing 10 lbs. or 30 lbs. of food in a home freezer is likely not an issue. Ten pounds of All Natural Chicken Breast, which Miami Food Co. sells for a whopping $4 less per pound than Publix may “seem” like a lot of chicken, but it’s just 9 meals for a family of 3. For families with kids, we sell premium, restaurant-grade chicken tenders and chicken wings – that Publix and Whole Foods does not sell – for a fraction of the cost of grocery store chicken. On the higher end, we sell things like USDA Prime (read: super premium) burgers for $7.99/lb and U10 Peruvian Scallops that aren’t available at grocery level at all, period. For our South American heritage customers, we even sell Corvina fish for making mind-boggling ceviche, and aged skirt steak for making unbelievably tender churrasco.
Inadvertently due to coronavirus, Miami Food Co.’s customers are now restaurant industry insiders. Our coupon code RESTAURANTINSIDER is good for 10% off a first purchase. When our customers see the cases that are marked with supplier logos from Snake River Farms or Emperors Choice Seafood, they’re thrilled because they have likely never seen the names of these restaurant suppliers before.
Miami Food Co.’s mission is to feed South Florida while battling coronavirus through extreme distancing and safety. I have even reached out to various city officials suggesting they purchase products at deeper discounts and use Miami Food Co. to deliver bulk food to vulnerable, independent living senior citizens who are unfortunately relying on the kindness of neighbors. Our “freezer to freezer” model means that all cases are sealed and the portions inside have never been touched by anyone – not even us. Our seamless deliveries within 24-48 hours are by a single driver who’s wearing a mask and gloves, for their safety and moreover, for the safety of our customers.
I”m proud to have built this project and who knows? Maybe it’s an entirely new career since I’m unemployed. If you have time – but let’s face it you have lots of time now that you’re tragically trapped in your house – feel free to browse around Miami Food Co. by visiting www.miamifood.co.