Grand Rapidian starts grocery subscription business

Anjoy delivers fresh and local products from farms and food businesses to members’ doorsteps.
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Members can find and add items from the website or the Anjoy mobile app and pay for whatever is in that order. Courtesy Anjoy

The founder of a new grocery subscription service is aiming to help make a better food system through supporting local, keeping prices fair and paying employees a living wage.

Jeff Boore — a native of Grand Rapids with a corporate and entrepreneurial background — is the founder of Anjoy, a subscription-based grocery service that soft launched at the end of June/beginning of July in Grand Rapids.

Currently, Anjoy employs one driver who delivers groceries to the ZIP codes 49503, 49504, 49505, 49506, 49507 and 49525. Boore plans to expand that territory as the business grows and he can add more delivery drivers.

The name Anjoy comes from the Vietnamese phrase “ăn chơi,” which means “fun food,” or the type of food you have when you’re with family and friends and having a party or celebrating.

“My wife is Vietnamese, and the phrase always felt like it perfectly represented how I wanted Anjoy to feel. Food should be fun, and it should be a way that connects us,” Boore said.

Although Boore said on the surface Anjoy may seem like Shipt, there are several key differences. Firstly, Anjoy hires in-house employees rather than contractors and pays them a starting wage of $15 per hour. Secondly, the produce comes fresh and in season from local farmers and food businesses rather than grocery stores with a goal of zero waste through a meal planning service included on the app and the ability to tweak orders at the last minute. Thirdly, Anjoy aims to return as much of the profits back to the local suppliers as possible by not taking huge margins from each sale, and fourthly, the service will strive to be affordable to customers by not marking up the grocery prices over market rates but instead generating its profits through the subscription fees.

“Our big, gigantic goal is to help make the food system better for everyone — better for farmers, better for food business owners, better for customers and better for the planet,” Boore said.

How it works

The monthly subscription fee includes delivery and membership to Anjoy, which will come with some “fun perks” that are still in the works, Boore said. Members can then find and add items from the website or the Anjoy mobile app and pay for whatever is in that order. 

“We set it up like this for a couple of reasons: It allows us to keep our product prices the exact same as they would be if you were to buy our items from the partners. This is very different from most other delivery services that will mark up their grocery prices so that they make more money. The second reason is that we really want to return as much of the grocery sales back to our partners (as possible). While other delivery services take massive margins from their partners, we’re working to drive as much of our business out of the membership fee, so that we can return as much as possible of the grocery sales to the partners,” he said.

Members can either sign up to receive a starter box or answer a few questions to get a box designed to fit their needs. Subscribers can then add, edit or delete what’s in the box. 

“The idea is to get those core items that you want every week, but to get them from a better quality, more local and more sustainable source,” Boore said. “Something that is different from some competitors is that each item ‘subscription’ can be tweaked every week. You can skip something if you’re out of town or get some extra if you need it.

“As far as what members can get, it depends on the item. For things like coffee and bread, members can subscribe to a specific roast or loaf or let our partner roasters and bakers choose their favorite that week. When it comes to produce, it’s a bit more general. For instance, members can subscribe to a salad greens subscription that is set up for a desired number of salads each week. However, the exact type of salad greens will vary. This is the same for our seasonal produce subscriptions. We know that there are important food types and categories, but (we) want to push our members to explore different types of produce or salad greens so that we can give them what is fresh that week and in peak season. … You’re more likely to enjoy the best version of something that is maybe not your favorite over your favorite thing that isn’t in peak season. We help you navigate that without trying to give you something completely out of left field.”

Although Anjoy is more of a grocery service than a meal planning service, Boore said he is working on building out the meal-planning functionality. For now, users can save their favorite recipes, add them to weekly meal plans and see which ingredients they already have at home and which ones they still need to buy.

Suppliers

Some of Anjoy’s initial suppliers include the following:

Green Wagon Farm — A certified organic family farm in Ada “with a passion for growing some of the best produce around.”

Joven — A special line of coffee developed by Francesca “Frankie” Volkema, the 14-year-old daughter of The Sparrows Coffee and Schuil Coffee owner Tim Volkema, Joven supports coffee farms and collectives that are owned by farmers age 35 and younger to invest in the future of coffee.

Beer City Dog Biscuits — A mission-driven nonprofit that was created to help those with developmental disabilities find meaningful work, this company makes dog treats from spent Founders beer grains.

Field & Fire Bakery — A local bakery that makes bread and baked goods and is passionate about supporting local farms and promoting better agriculture practices. The bread is baked the morning of Anjoy’s deliveries, so “it might still be warm” when you get it, Boore said.

Delivery

Anjoy will soon be looking to hire more drivers so it can expand its territory. If a prospective customer is outside of the area mentioned above but shares their ZIP code and contact information on the site, Boore said Anjoy will reach out to them to let them know when service is available in their area.

Additional details

Anjoy allows members to tweak their orders up until two days before delivery. Boore said this reduces waste because suppliers don’t have to guess how much people might buy each week and make extra “just in case”; it ensures Anjoy doesn’t run out of any items in a customer’s order, as its partners don’t typically begin to pick or make the items until the order is confirmed; and it allows Anjoy to provide the freshest groceries possible. He said this is appealing, given the fact most grocery store apples can be up to a year old before they reach the customer, he said, citing a 2019 article by Delish.

Boore said Anjoy was created to give the approximately 60% of individuals who say they want to shop locally for produce but don’t have time to visit farmers markets the opportunity to buy local in a more convenient way.

“We make it easier to get products from local partners and help those partners compete with the big-box stores,” he said.

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