Founder Joe McVeigh kept Anita Delivery running during the pandemic.
Most businesses which started up only for a worldwide pandemic to shut everything down weeks later would have been cursing their luck.
But for Derry-based Anita Delivery and its founder and chief executive, Joseph McVeigh, a negative was quickly turned into a positive.
The established supermarket chains have their own delivery services but for those who get their groceries and bits and pieces from a number of local shops, Anita Delivery provided a valuable service.
With the early days of the pandemic ensuring that many were wary of venturing out to get their supplies for the week, Anita Delivery soon found its app buzzing.
Joseph said: “I set the business up four weeks before the pandemic and then that happened. So, we had to keep it going and I was doing deliveries myself from seven in the morning to 11.30pm – seven days a week for about three months.
“Now, we're sitting at having 18 delivery drivers and we have local shops with us such as Nearby on Spencer Road, Clooney Meats, Urban Ivy Aromas, Carraig Off Licence, Vivo on Abercorn Road and Shop 48 in Skeoge.
“I had to go round to the businesses myself to get them signed up – as well as do my deliveries and run the company.
“Some of them needed the salesman's charm because the idea was new to them. The Carraig Off Licence was no problem as I know them but with others, I had to say to them, 'this is the future and you are going to need it.'
“I said to them that we can try it out and see if it works for you. They tried it out and now they're flying and making great money.”
Joseph admits that the pandemic provided him the opportunity to provide a much-needed service but insists that Anita's success would have still taken off given that people were reliant on his service.
He added: “It's not nice to say but the pandemic definitely helped business. Anita was going to work, no matter what. This is a massive thing for shops and places like England and America – it just hadn't been done here.
Joe McVeigh, Anita Delivery founder, making a donation of £300 to local charity Foyle Search and Rescue.
“The shops brought on extra staff and extra stock because of Anita being on hand to get deliveries out to people.
“Even without the pandemic, there were people still relying on us providing a service. Our Facebook page shows a message from a customer who has depression and thanked us for being available to get his shopping to him.
“We have customers from outside Derry, too. There's one in Glasgow who uses us to provide deliveries for her mum in Derry. There's a fella in England who uses us to get shopping in for his parents in Derry as well.
“This might sound daft but I always wanted Anita to become the Amazon of Derry for local businesses.
“The busier Anita is, the more money there is going back into the local economy. There's local businesses getting more orders and more people getting good money with delivery jobs.
“The reason I started Anita is that there is many people that I know personally who have depression and anxiety and they couldn't leave the house to get their shopping.
“They could always get a pizza or a Chinese takeaway delivered, but not their local groceries.”
Anita Delivery also puts back into the community with Joseph saying the firm provides to local charities and businesses.
He said: “We have a donation button on our own Anita Delivery app for customers to make a donation to local charities. Both ourselves and our customers have already donated just over £1,000 to Foyle Food Bank and £600 to Foyle Search and Rescue so far.
“We also have teamed up with Budget Energy for them to get a delivery for their staff. Also, a lot of customers use us, from the Waterfoot Hotel and the Everglades Hotel and Altnagelvin Hospital and the Bowling Alley using Anita Delivery.”
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