College Students Create Business to Serve Essential Pantry Items for Local Community
The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses across the country to rethink their business models to continue to serve their customers, while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Many businesses, such as the Alta Mere window tinting and paint protection store in Oklahoma City, were temporarily closed. Though the business was able to return to reopen at the end of April, that doesn’t mean the store was sitting empty during the temporary closure.
Turning an Automotive Business Into a Pop Up Grocery Store
Two college seniors took over the workspace and created a grocery drive-through, called Pop Up Pantry, to help serve others in their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greg Goodman’s son, Chandler, is a student at Oklahoma State University and is also the Center Manager at his father’s Alta Mere store. John-Crawford Counts attends Delta State University and his father works at a local Sysco food distribution center.
After returning home from college and taking classes online, John-Crawford noticed pop grocery stores opening in restaurants across the country. He thought it would be a great idea to help the community in Oklahoma City.
“My dad works for Sysco, so I asked him what I needed to get started,” said John-Crawford. “He said the first thing you need is a location, so that’s when I contacted Chandler.”
“John-Crawford approached me and explained that we can use his knowledge of the food industry and my location at Alta Mere and knowledge of small business and take this pop-up idea and run with it,” said Chandler. “And so here we are!”
The college business majors turned the work bays of the Alta Mere location into a mini grocery store. A refrigerator was stocked with ground beef, chicken and butter. Tables were organized with other pantry items such as bread, pasta, condiments, toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.
Customers were able to order essential food and pantry items through the Pop Up Pantry website. After that, they picked up the much-needed supplies in a contact-free, drive-through process inside the Alta Mere store.
Small Business Makes Big Impact on Community
The young entrepreneurs didn’t realize how important their business would be for people who didn’t feel safe going into grocery stores during this difficult time. People with pre-existing conditions or those with sick family members were very grateful for Pop Up Pantry’s community spirit.
“We had one lady come through and she literally wrote down her order on a piece of paper and put it up on her window to show us,” said Chandler. “We were able to bag all of her goods and load them up without having any contact whatsoever. It was just awesome that we were able to do that and keep her safe.”
“A lady came in crying one day because she could finally get latex gloves and told us how blessed she felt that she could get goods from us,” said John-Crawford. “It's just been a very moving and a great experience for us.”
Their community spirit and entrepreneurial efforts made such an impact, they got the attention of Fox News and Fox Business.
Chandler’s father, Alta Mere owner and operator Greg Goodman, is very proud of what the Pop Up Pantry co-founders were able to accomplish.
“Chandler and John-Crawford worked really hard and turned a negative into a positive for the community where they grew up,” said Greg. “I think this experience will make them both better business leaders in the future.”
As the country works to emerge from the COVID-19 emergency, the Alta Mere location in Oklahoma City has now reopened to offer its window tinting and paint protection services. Chandler is back at work as the Center Manager, but he and John-Crawford won’t soon forget the valuable lessons learned while giving back to their community.