SIDNEY – Lora Curl has combined her love of shopping with her love of helping people to create a business as a personal shopper, a service that’s grown in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Curl shops for customers and delivers the purchases, mostly groceries, directly to their homes. Her clients include busy parents, people who are unable to leave their homes and people who are uncomfortable leaving their homes because of the pandemic.
“I think it’s awesome that I can help,” the Sidney resident said. “I hope that I can keep on helping them.”
Curl started working as a personal shopper through an on-demand grocery delivery company in September 2019. She’s currently working to get established on Dumpling, another on-demand delivery app that she thinks will be better for her and her customers.
Dumpling and other delivery companies allow customers to place orders through an app on their smartphone or tablet. A shopper then picks up the items at a store and delivers them to the customer.
“I love doing it. My car don’t love all the miles, but it will live,” said Curl, who mostly focuses on Shelby and Miami counties but does travel farther for her business.
Curl’s busiest time as a personal shopper was at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of clients, especially those who are considered high risk for COVID-19 exposure, didn’t want to go shopping.
“I had two great weeks,” Curl said. “It was order after order, morning to night.”
However, business became tougher as more shoppers entered the fray. The flood of shoppers made it harder to get orders and led to the company offering lower pay rates.
“Everything was going great until I can’t even get an order in Sidney,” Curl said.
Curl’s frustrations were compounded by the thought that her customers weren’t getting the best possible service.
While Curl usually can provide same-day delivery, customers told her it sometimes would take four or five days to get their orders through the delivery app she initially used. Customers also had no choice on which shopper received their order.
When she found Dumpling, Curl liked that customers could request a specific shopper, which allows the shopper to become more familiar with their clients and their shopping needs.
She also likes that with Dumpling, she can visit multiple stores to find an item for a customer. The other app cancels an order if an item is out of stock at the selected store.
“Right now everything is getting back to normal. You can find your toilet paper,” Curl said about the availability of items in stores. “Except for the disinfectant and the wipes. You can’t find those.”
While Dumpling offers benefits for customers and shoppers, it’s not as well known. So Curl is working to distribute flyers and business cards at stores and around the community to let people know about her business.
“It’s up to me to go out here and get my clients,” she said.
For her clients, she’s trying to target parents. As a mother and grandmother, Curl said, she understands the difficulties of shopping with children.
She’s also trying to reach older individuals and others who are at greater risk because of COVID-19.
“I don’t want anybody out that doesn’t feel comfortable being out, especially the older people,” she said.
Curl, who previously worked as a waitress and bartender for 30 years, said her favorite part of working as a personal shopper is interacting with her customers.
“I really like the public,” she said. “I was just over the serving and bartending.”
While personal interactions have declined because of the pandemic and new contact-less delivery options, she keeps in touch with her customers through phone calls and text messages to ensure they’re getting what they want.
For more information about Dumpling, visit https://dumpling.us/ or download the app.
For more information about Curl’s business, visit her Dumpling page at https://shop.dumpling.us/lora595, visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lcshopping4u/, email Loracurl_dumpling@yahoo.com or call or text 937-489-9896.
Individuals who don’t have a smartphone can contact Curl, and she can help them place an order.
Reach this writer at email@example.com or 937-538-4824.