Move over Instacart!
In the months following the country’s shutdown due to the pandemic, Rhandi and Jonathan Altidor noticed something was missing in the food delivery market — Black grocers. Their solution? The couple decided to bridge the gap with The Better Buggy, a grocery delivery service for Black-owned farms and food suppliers in their Atlanta community.
“I told my husband that it was really frustrating that weren’t able to support Black-owned stores because a lot of the major outlets that offer [grocery delivery] don’t have smaller Black-owned businesses available,” Rhandi told Because of Them We Can. “We are always team ‘buy Black’ whenever we can, whereever we can — why don’t we fill this void that’s out there and help empower these local Black-owned stores and create this service because it wasn’t there.”
The two educators, Rhandi a middle school teacher and Jonathan a school counselor in Fulton County Schools, used their downtime to create the business while juggling married life and parenthood. With help from their family and wider community they’ve been able to make inroads in a predominately white market. The Better Buggy offers same-day delivery for fresh produce and everyday essentials, including vegan, organic, and gluten-free options.
Black businesses around the country have been impacted by the pandemic. The Federal Reserve Bank released a study last month that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses across the country shut down between February and April, compared to only about 17 percent of white businesses during the same period. The Altidor’s have credited the support of their community and the need for this kind of business for their success during this challenging time.
“Starting a business in the middle of the pandemic was crazy. Even though we were home there was a lot we had to do, but still considering COVID-19 with the safety measures. Initially everything was going so quickly, we had to slow down and ensure we’re doing things correctly,” Jonathan said. “It was a blessing that we were able to form this type of business during COVID because there was a demand for people to have their groceries remotely. I think that played a part in us being able to scale so fast.”
The couple who both grew up in Georgia, have brought joy and an expanded customer base to their vendors throughout Georgia. BOTWC spoke with one of their partners, Khadijah of Kay’s Kookies & Habeeb’s Gourmet Sauces who said it’s her first time working with them, but it’s been a pleasure.
“I’ve seen orders increase since working with their app and they are very supportive of me,” she said. “People have been ordering my specialty dessert cookies and and my original Habeeb sauce, I’m getting seen more.”
Rhandi emphasized that as much as this business is creating a legacy for their family, it’s about using their resources to impact the oft overlooked Black businesses in their area and giving the community access to fresh foods from people who look like them.
According to a 2017 study, 36 percent of Atlanta was classified as a food desert. This means a quarter of Atlanta residents have to travel more than a half-mile to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
“It’s a battle for these local Black-owned products to be on a shelf in a larger store so just to beuse our resources and have customers coming to them is definitely helping them…our farmers they were hit hard during COVID outside of the struggles they were already having selling their produce locally,” Rhandi said. “That’s something we feel strongly about getting to use our resources to empower them and have them be seen and heard. There’s so much going on in the world and it’s just frustrating to see that things are the same as they’ve been for a very long time. Just to be able to share our platform and draw attention to the local black business that have been here forever that deserve some type of recognition.”
The duo said the support they’ve received from family, and friends who help out with deliveries and coworkers, even students, spreading the word about their company has been overwhelming, but seeing allies supporting them and pushing back against the racist ideologies around the country has been powerful.
“As a Black man with everything going on initially I was a little apprehensive with doing the deliveries…but what’s been crazy during this whole experience for me is that I will see signs on peoples lawns that say “Black Lives Matter” or have the Black fist in solidarity and it’s so awesome to see that wow people are supporting Black Lives Matter and this whole movement,” Jonathan said. “Seeing that more and more has gotten me more comfortable because everyone is supporting us, I’m not as apprehensive as I was in the beginning.”
Currently they have 2 major grocery stores, several Black-owned products, and farms including Cayce Foods, Nature’s Own Herb Shop, and Sevanada on their vendor list, but they are always looking for more stores and vendors to include. Shoppers can head to their site to schedule their orders for the weekend, but the couple plans to open up weekdays soon. They hope to build the momentum in Atlanta and then meet the ever growing need across the country.
“[Franchising] is something we definitely talk about for some point in the future. It’s good to have Atlanta as a base, but we do want everyone to know about The Better Buggy because a lot of people don’t have access to this,” Jonathan said. “People [around the country] ask us when we are coming to their state, I think it’s needed everywhere. Once we finish establishing the base here in Atlanta and have everything flowing the goal is to get that going [sooner rather than later].”
We can’t wait to see this business expand! To learn more visit www.thebetterbuggy.com