Teenagers are a generally restless lot, and with many of them housebound these days, some are getting even more restless. But that can be a very good thing.
When 16-year-old Marlborough School 11th grader Mira Kwon found herself starting to feel “helpless,” with too much time on her hands after a couple of weeks of COVID-19 preventive self-isolation, she decided to do something about it.
At first, she told the Buzz yesterday, she started helping her physician mother with a mask drive for healthcare workers, but she didn’t enjoy the fundraising involved. So then her aunt sent her an article about Zoomers to Boomers, a Bay-area company started by another 16-year-old to deliver groceries to seniors and the immunocompromised during the COVID-19 crisis (“We’re Generation Z and we are here to help”)…and Kwon found her calling.
Kwon said she reached out to Zoomers to Boomers’ teenage founder Daniel Goldberg, and worked out plans to start a new branch of the service in Los Angeles. (It also has outposts in Santa Barbara, Denver, Miami, Greenwich, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Morris County, Cambridge, Malibu and Marin.)
The first step, Kwon said, was adapting the business model slightly. The original concept worked much like Instacart – teen “Zoomers” take shopping lists into stores selected by the customers, shop for their groceries, and then deliver the food. But Kwon said she wanted to cusomize the process for Los Angeles, which is more spread out than the areas the company serves in northern California…and she wanted to make it even safer for herself, her helpers, and her customers.
So Kwon made arrangements with just a few specific local vendors that offer curbside pickup, such as Farm Fresh Produce at the Original Farmers Market, and developed a pre-set list of items customers can choose from those vendors. Orders are placed online or via phone, groceries are dropped off at customers’ doorsteps, and payments are made electronically…to maintain maximum social distance and eliminate physical contact between people at every step. And finally, Kwon’s doctor mom, Chris Lee, helped with instruction on proper sanitary techniques for gloves, glasses, facemasks and keeping cars clean.
With the new business plan in hand, Kwon recruited three other Marlborough friends – Ava Eisendrath, Candace Malloy, and Ellie Atlee – who are all also currently on spring break…and the girls went to work, starting by promoting their services to friends and family to gain their first customers. Meanwhile, Kwon also got a press-release template from a business-owner family friend, adapted it for Zoomers to Boomers, and began sending it out to local media. (Yes, that’s how we found out about her. )
All in all, Kwon said, getting the business up and running has been a lot of work, but it’s also been a “very good educational experience,”and her parents are in full support. (“I think this is a great way for her to spend her spring break,” Lee told us.) But Kwon is hoping she can keep things going even after school starts up again in a couple of weeks. Since classes are now all online and other time-consuming activities like sports have been cancelled entirely because of COVID-19, Kwon said she and her friends should still have plenty of time available. “We’ll find ways to adapt and change.”
And judging from her efforts so far, we’d say that’s a good bet.
In closing, we should mention that while Kwon’s customers do pay for their grocery orders, there are no delivery fees, and any tips – which are entirely optional – will be donated to “those in need” in the community. “We are not making any money,” Kwon said, “and we don’t want to.”
And finally, last but far from least, it’s also worth noting that while some people – even those opening franchise branches of well-established businesses – can take months or even years to launch their endeavors…Kwon has done all this since LAST SATURDAY.
So let that sink in…and the next time you see a restless teenager bouncing around, you might just marvel at the vastness of the power in that energetic package.
To order from Zoomers to Boomers, just go to http://www.zoomerstoboomers.com and select “Los Angeles” from the location list.