I grew up in Hampton, Virginia. In what is now the hip section known as Phoebus. My parents used to go up to Clyde’s and play shuffleboard. If we were super lucky my dad would take us to Fuller’s for a plate of fries and some Root beers. Clyde’s is no more. Fuller’s is now reinvented as a Raw Bar on a different corner in town.
I worked in Newport News…most of you from my area and era would remember the days of Heartbreak Alley: a giant nightclub with two then three different bars contained within. I’d work there in the evenings and did an internship then some temp work at Newport News Social Services, practically in the same parking lot.
When I had my own family we relocated to the Tabb section of York County/Yorktown to raise our boys. My three sons all graduated from Tabb High. You can’t live in Tabb without popping into Poquoson for groceries or a sunset. All these places are interconnected.
When I launched a cookie cake delivery business back in 2011, I imagined we would deliver to a very small footprint around Yorktown. That quickly changed and expanded.
It makes sense that both Hampton and Yorktown are now big sources of customers for us. Certainly my initial customers were people that knew me and trusted me to follow through…and the majority of people that knew me at the time were from the places I had lived the longest.
We now have quite a bit of business from Williamsburg as well, partly because we deliver to William and Mary, but also because of our family ties to the Virginia Legacy Soccer Club that is based in Williamsburg.
Hampton Roads is my home. I like that I recognize so many names that come through on orders. I laugh that it’s the same for my team-mate, she loves telling me stuff like a sender was her “mom’s neighbor’s daughter who later helped lead Sunday school with her’. I take pride that on the rare days that I personally deliver some of our orders that I know six different routes to the same place. I am proud that my company provides and exceptional product and service to my own community. I am proud that we are also able to give back to this community in countless ways.
When you shop local you support the heart and soul of our community, and I thank you.
Having a gift delivery business is a bit of a challenge. Where do we draw the lines? Are they set in stone?
Our Southside delivery doesn’t always make sense to people. That’s because the website had to be set up by zip code. Either the zip code was in or out. For instance there’s a zip code in Chesapeake that stretches from near the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel all the way to the North Carolina border, so that’s one of them that got the boot.
That’s why I often tell people that before they accept no as an answer, email us the exact address, we will take a peek at the map, and then let them know if we can make it happen.
On Friday someone sent a message asking about delivering to Portsmouth.
I sent back the cookietext.com delivery zone link for them to check via their zip code if we cover that area.
They soon responded that according to the website we don’t deliver there, but they’d really like a CookieText for their spouse’s birthday.
Mind you these messages were happening during prime cookie decorating time, so forgive me, but as I actively considered my Saturday agenda and wrote at the same time, my email response was this:
Would you please provide the actual physical address so I can peek at it? Heck. Never mind. Just put it through. I’ll run it over personally. ~Jeanne
I applied the work-around to get the site to accept the order, and they placed it right away. I was delighted to see it was a larger order, so that made going the distance a little sweeter.
On Saturday morning, off I went to make the delivery. As I got further and further and saw it wasn’t a case of a huge zip code, this place was really far away. As I finally pulled off 664, I saw two of my favorite signs: 7-11 and Speedway. Both fantastic places to stop for a giant fountain soda on the ride home, it would be my karmic reward for going that far.
The location wasn’t far off the highway, I wound through a neighborhood of one-story homes and found theirs on a cul-de-sac. House numbers are funny, so I was thrilled that the initial on the garden flag matched the first initial of the last name on the order.
I knocked on the storm door and could see a bed set up in the living room: someone was sick, maybe they are taking care of a grandparent?
The sender answered the door, smiled and said a thank you. What I heard his eyes say was, “I know you went out of your way, I appreciate it.”
As they turned to go in the house, I noticed the pajama pants. I saw signs of past medical procedures. I knew in that moment that the sender was the sick one.
It occurred to me that this person likely could not have driven to pick up a birthday cookie cake for their spouse. It kind of looked like there was a chance they might not be around to celebrate many more family birthdays. Little do I know for sure, but that was certainly the impression that I got.
I walked back to my car and my eyes welled a bit. What if I had stuck to the webite’s determination that the delivery location was too far? What if I’d said no? I felt so relieved that I had said yes, that I would deliver it myself.
At CookieText.com, we can’t always say yes to going out of the structure of the business. We do try to remember that we are servicing people and needs vary, so we bend the rules if we are able. We also follow our instincts. In the midst of Friday morning mayhem, I oddly agreed to spend part of my Saturday delivering to an unknown destination. I had the time, and it just felt right.
It seems that we always reap some sort of reward for our yes’s. This one was absolutely the case. Though my eyes had welled up, I felt good as I climbed in my car. I felt good about my business, good about my product, and good that I’d gone out of my way for a customer who clearly could benefit from a yes, from something being easy and stress free. It was incredibly rewarding.
But don’t get carried away, I still stopped and got that giant fountain soda for the ride home;)
Things went remarkably smoothly on Valentine’s Day. There were a few minor hiccups, and one driver racing to get some CookieTexts to a school before the final bell (my fault, not hers, I should have sent that order on another route), but considering the volume of orders we put out, it went smooth like…butter.
Tuesday night around 7:30 pm we reached the number of orders we thought we could deliver with pride. At that point I went in the back end of the website and turned off February 14th as an option for delivery date. That was a first.
Liz was here with me that night as we got a head start on the next day’s orders. She’s awesome. She can sprinkle, box, and ribbon a CookieText faster than you can say Oklahoma Sooners (she proudly is one). Typically when she walks in the door I turn on the 60’s Pandora station and we get into a groove, and that’s exactly what we did. We share a couple of laughs and I bounce some ideas off of her, but we actually work pretty quietly together. Liz is the perfect example of when the student surpasses the master. She can work circles around me.
At one point in the evening my friend Carlyn popped in with a survival kit. The paleo-beef stick I looked sideways at in the moment was a Godsend at 2am when I needed some sort of nutrition to keep going. It was either nutrition I needed or something to soak up all the liquid caffeine I’d ingested, either way, it hit the spot at the exact right moment.
Liz and Monica were both at work about 7am, and we got our hustle on. We had 6 routes going out, one of those with two people in the vehicle because it was the biggest one and deliveries go more quickly with two people. Our biggest delivery was to CNU, that driver put a rolling cart in her van so she could wheel everything to the mailroom in one trip (pretty brilliant). You know how we ended up with so many at CNU? ….I asked.
I wrote a Facebook post and asked that if there were any CNU parents that followed our page, I’d love it if they would let the other parents know we’d be happy to help them send a Valentine to their student. It only takes one person to say yes. It didn’t happen right away. The post had been up a few days when a mom commented that she had shared my post with the CNU parent’s pages she had access to. Not only that, she also fielded questions from them that they asked on the post. How awesome is that? I’m not sure if the lesson is sometimes ask for what you want or that it only takes one person to make a difference. I think it’s both.
Wednesday afternoon I went immediately to my friend John over at Healthy Touch Massages He blissfully worked out the multiple kinks in my back and right arm from piping so many CookieTexts. The thing about John and Healthy Touch is that it’s convenient (I can book online), the prices are fair, the place is welcoming, clean, and classy, and he always does a great job. Once I found them, I never looked elsewhere. That’s how I want CookieText to be for our customers: reliable, efficient, and effective, so I can see why Healthy Touch’s business model speaks to me. Once I left there I hit my couch and didn’t get up until Thursday morning.
This was the first Valentine’s I can remember that we didn’t forget something: either some sprinkles, a balloon, an extra frosting, or something like that. That makes me so happy. I can’t stand messing up. We didn’t get a single complaint. In fact, quite the opposite:
“I ordered 3 cookie texts yesterday and one was going to a high school that told me they would turn it away. I contacted you all and you were so awesome! You called me almost instantly and I was able to change the delivery address. Also, the products are SO delicious!! Thank you so much!!! I’m a previous customer and will keep ordering!!!”
“Super easy to order! Love that there’s no shipping cost! Hubby loved getting his on Valentine’s Day! I will definitely order again!”
“This is our second year sending CookieText to our daughter for Valentine’s Day. This year’s was more beautiful than last, and she absolutely loves receiving them. Thank you so much for making her day while she’s away at school.”
How awesome is that!?
I’ve said it a million times, I love my job. I am grateful. We have a fantastic team on board and we had some phenomenal extra helpers as well, they all amazed me. Thanks to all of you for your support, for ordering from us, for cheering us on, and for telling your friends. Valentine’s Day is our Black Friday times 10 (but lucky for you there’s no standing in line at 4 am). It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and we get a ton of joy out of knowing people are getting showered with some cookie love. It’s a blessing to be able to do what you love for a living, and it’s something I do not take for granted.
All that said, as a true entreprenuer, I’m compelled to remind you: we’re here all year…you can order 24 hours a day at www.cookietext.com. 😉