by Sophia Sakellariou, Production Editor
When Manhattan College students received an email the night of Monday, March 9 that classes would shift to online in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many were taken aback. Some celebrated, but once the reality set in that the semester may be over, students were distraught; Especially seniors who’s final months of revelling in their hard work of the past few years, had it pulled out from under them.
Joseph Chionchio of Bay Shore Long Island was one such person. A senior finance major, Chionchio was devastated about all the things taken away from him– his senior year of college, his final season as a Jasper baseball player, separation of his friends– but rather than revel in his misery, he decided to do something about it.
“I was sick of feeling sorry for myself,” Chionchio said via email. “I realized everyone was going through something, this impacts everyone … I thought there was a way I could help my community by [allowing] a large scale of people to stay home and I could shop for them.”
So was born Smart Shop– a food and grocery delivery service for those in Chionchio’s community who are unable to leave their homes and shop for themselves. Like any good businessman, he saw a need and created something to meet that need and do the best by his community.
“I saw other services were backed up for weeks and I could deliver within hours,” Chionchio said. “It took me about a week to get my branding and marketing in order, and I finally had my first customer. Ever since then my services have been in high demand and I had to start looking for other drivers to help me out.”
This is the first business Chionchio has started and credits his success to his previous position as President of the Investment Club, explaining that running that organization simulated what it’s like to run a business, but on a smaller scale.
Since the launch of Smart Shop, business has been booming for Chionchio. Some challenges he’s faced include shopping in under an hour to meet delivery times, as long lines and social distancing measures add time to a typical shopping trip. Another challenge has been meeting the high demand of customers without the help of other drivers. However, after putting out advertisements, Chionchio was able to accrue more drivers, increasing his output from two to three household deliveries in a day, to four and five.
Smart Shop customer Nancy Zuch found out about the service through her daughter Morgan who graduated with Chionchio and saw the advertisement on Facebook. To Zuch, Smart Shop served as the missing link to keep her in control of protecting her family as grocery shopping was the only task that required her to leave her house.
“My daughter has a compromised immune system, my husband is a heart attack survivor and I have asthma so going to the grocery store was of real concern when it came to protecting my family,” Zuch said. “[Chionchio] was so helpful. I gave him a very long list of things I needed and he even texted me alternate options the store had if what I wanted was out of stock. He delivered everything to the driveway while wearing gloves and wiped everything off. I’m already making a second list for [Smart Shop].”
In terms of Smart Shop’s future, Chionchio has hired a marketing agency, WSI, to create a website for Smart Shop as well as handle payments and other logistics. He hopes to be able to reach the greater tri-state area in the future. Chris Sorgie, Principal Digital Marketing Consultant at WSI, has been helping Chionchio with the marketing of Smart Shop.
“Joe is high-energy and absolutely committed to making his business a success, and his heart is in the right place – he started this business to help those in need and is expanding it for the same reason,” Sorgie said via email. “We have fast-tracked development of his website and at the same time, are developing a digital marketing campaign to deliver his core messages to the right audience at the right time … If I can help Joe deliver groceries and at the same time help flatten the curve, my business will benefit in the long run.”
Smart Shop is looking for drivers as well as customers. The website should be launched within the next two weeks, but in the meantime, interested parties can follow the company on Instagram and like them on Facebook @smartshopli.