Kris White came up with the idea of starting a grocery delivery service in 2014 when he was a senior at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. At the time, he lived close to the University of South Florida (USF) and wondered how the USF students bought their groceries because most didn’t seem to have transportation. He decided to fill this need, and started Bull Bagger, a name inspired by USF’s bull mascot.
When White graduated with his associates degree in business in spring of 2014, he brought the Bull Bagger concept with him when he moved back to his hometown of Port Charlotte, Florida. This time, he decided to focus on the large, elderly population. “I could just tell [there was a need] with the elderly here,” says White. When he went to the supermarket to buy groceries for himself, he noticed that elders had trouble getting what they needed. “They’d ask me, ‘Can you get this off the top shelf for me?’ ” explains White.
Elderly customers, many of whom don’t have computers or smart phones, typically call in their orders to Bull Bagger, although they can also place their supermarket order online. Frequently, White picks up a client’s grocery list. He then goes shopping at the local supermarket, pays for the groceries up front, delivers the groceries, and gets paid and reimbursed at the time of delivery.
White seems proud of the fact that his business model does not mark up the grocery prices, but instead relies on flat delivery fees that are structured based on the size of the order. He even honors coupons and “buy one, get one free” specials for his clients. And because Port Charlotte is a small community, he tells his customers that he can have their order to them in one hour, which includes shopping and delivery time.
When he moved back to Port Charlotte, one of White’s first steps was to partner with Midway Pharmacy, a local pharmacy that offers free prescription deliveries to his target market. He gets paid for making these deliveries, and at the same time, receives referrals for Bull Bagger since most of Midway’s clients are housebound.
In August of 2014, the young entrepreneur walked into his local chamber in Port Charlotte seeking some business guidance, and was introduced to Peter Keating, a professional certified business consultant at the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), whose office is located at the chamber.
White had been looking for a mentor to help him with his business, and that’s exactly what he found when he met Keating. The two worked on revising Bull Bagger’s business plan, and strategized on how to better reach customers, which includes the elderly, but also the disabled and moms with kids. The two have also worked on legal topics, how to best structure the business, and on business taxes. Keating also helps his business by spreading the word about Bull Bagger’s services within the community. “He’s my mentor for sure,” adds White.
“Business is picking up a lot, especially with the snow birds coming down right now,” says White, who makes several deliveries a day for Bull Bagger. And while he currently does all of the deliveries himself, he plans to expand and hire more personal shoppers in the near future.
Most of his clients find out about Bull Bagger through word-of-mouth, Facebook and Google. “They love it. They say, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you,’ ” he says
Before visiting the chamber and meeting Keating, White had been unaware of the no-cost consulting offered by the FSBDC to support local businesses. “I would highly recommend the FSBDC to any small business owner. Peter has helped me tremendously with advice and what I should do for my business,” he says.