New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Free, Same-Day Home Delivery

Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on August 11, 2021

New York City

Home delivery, COVID-19, co-op and condo boards, Avo.

Avo has a fleet of vans that deliver goods from its Long Island City warehouse.

Aug. 11, 2021

As the Delta variant continues to spread, New Yorkers are wondering if they’re headed back to the days of working at home and living off delivered groceries and other household goods. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s a new delivery service that costs nothing, requires no minimum order and provides same-day service of groceries, electronics, pet products, alcoholic beverages and more. The service, which originated in Israel and then debuted in New York City in 2018, is called Avo.

Steve Greenbaum, a senior vice president and the director of management at Charles H. Greenthal, heard about Avo the old-school way: word of mouth. “We got contacted by a shareholder about the service,” Greenbaum says. “It sounded like another amenity, and at first I thought it was too good to be true. They promised not to have any extra charges, and people could opt out whenever they wanted to – no harm, no foul. We put the service in a test building – a 100-unit co-op on 56th Street – and people loved it.”

The service is now offered in three Greenthal buildings, and the company’s property managers routinely bring it up during co-op and condo board meetings. “More people are working from home now,” Greenbaum says, “and that’s why I think this service is going to spread.”

How does a company make money without charging for its services? “That’s the question everyone asks,” says Sismai Vazquez, an account executive at Avo. “We buy in bulk, and we have a warehouse in Long Island City. Our employees are full-time and fully vaccinated, and the deliveries are done in our own lime-green vans. We partner with property management companies, and we introduce Avo to their entire portfolio. Our target is residential buildings with at least 100 units. It’s all about volume.”

The service is currently available in about 650 buildings in metropolitan New York City, including One Manhattan Square, the luxury condo tower next to the Manhattan Bridge, and the sprawling  Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complexes on the East Side of Manhattan.

When Avo approached the condo board of the 192-unit Grand Madison at 225 Fifth Ave., the board tasked its property manager with checking out the reaction at other buildings that had signed up for Avo. Based on that feedback, the board approved the service. “People are thrilled with it,” says board member David Hoffman. “The selection, the pricing, the delivery, the packaging. Nothing is ever damaged, which is important when you’re dealing with food.”

Home delivery, of course, is an idea whose time has come. “Especially during the pandemic, having this sort of service available has been a great help to our residents, who may have been unwilling and/or unable to run out for a few items,” says Ron Bel Bruno, a board member at the Hudson Condominium at 225 W. 60th St. “We were extremely impressed with the short ramp-up time and personalized service we received from Avo. We also appreciate the company’s emphasis on supporting local businesses.”

Marc Kaplan, like Greenbaum, heard about Avo through word of mouth. “I was introduced to it by a colleague at Lefrak,” says Kaplan, chief operating officer at C+C Apartment Management, which rents affordable units in more than 450 buildings. “He recommended them, so I set up a personal account and started ordering groceries, fresh fruit, paper goods, drinks. Their selection is amazing.”

Orders received by 11 a.m. are delivered that day. At Kaplan’s 800-unit building, deliveries are dropped in a dedicated area outside the package room. “They promise to have the order delivered by 7 p.m.,” he says, “and they’ve never missed.”

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