Bob Shallit

New farm-to-fork service, GrubMarket, lands in Sacramento

The GrubMarket logo
The GrubMarket logo

A fast-growing farm-to-fork food delivery company is making its first inroads in the Sacramento area.

GrubMarket, a Bay Area-based firm that calls itself an “online farmers market,” began quietly lining up vendors and consumers here a month ago, following rollouts in seven other U.S. cities.

How it differs from other online food vendors: Its drivers go to farmers markets to pick up products – from produce to goat’s milk and cheese, from grass-fed beef to baked bread and brownies – and take them directly to customers in refrigerated vans. There’s no in-between storage of any products in warehouses.

“That way, the food is always fresh,” said Mike Xu, a 37-year-old entrepreneur who started the business in Novato last year with $2.1 million in venture capital funding.

Since its start in the Bay Area, GrubMarket has expanded to Southern California, Portland, Ore., Detroit, Denver and Chicago. The goal, according to Xu, is to have 15 U.S. regions served by the end of the year, with annual sales of $18 million. Sales now are at about $6 million, he said.

Sacramento is the newest city in the GrubMarket network and is being handled by a single employee, Jodi Guevara. She has been signing up local vendors, building a website and making initial deliveries to a handful of customers in the region.

The website, grubmarket.com, includes about 20 local vendors, such as Ms Mindy’s Sweet Treats of Roseville, Massa Organics of Chico and Freshway Fish of Loomis.

“So far, so good,” said Jeremy White, an exec with Freshway, about his company’s early experience with GrubMarket. His company, like most others on the website, sells almost exclusively through farmers markets.

Under the company model, consumers pay no delivery charges for orders over $25. Prices are comparable with those charged at a farmers market, the company says, with GrubMarket taking a commission of between 20 percent and 25 percent on each transaction.

“We cut out the middleman, increase farmers’ margins and consumers get better quality food,” Xu said.

Home sweet home

Commuting has become a lot easier for Cheryl Marcell, the new president and CEO of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.

Since leaving her marketing job at Sacramento International Airport four years ago, Marcell has worked in Montreal and San Jose – all while keeping her home and family in Sacramento.

While in Canada working for Airports Council International, she returned home one week a month. Her subsequent post, as business development director at Mineta San Jose International Airport, had her taking the train to the South Bay every Monday and returning to Sacramento for the weekend.

It was on the train that she heard about the opening at the railroad foundation. She beat out 150 other applicants for the post.

The job involves raising money for the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento and the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown as well as fundraising for the planned Railroad Technology Museum in the downtown railyard.

Marcell said she has an exciting job with plenty of challenges and one priceless benefit: a 5-minute commute to her home in Sacramento’s Woodlake neighborhood.

Lucky find

Carolynn Basque and her brother, David Burns, recently took over their family’s 130-year-old commercial building in downtown Auburn, did a major renovation job, and reopened it as a meeting spot, gallery and work space for local artists.

That was a big achievement but here’s the fun part. They named their place the General Gomez Arts and Events Center – because their great-grandfather in the 1890s manufactured cigars carrying the name of Cuban independence fighter Maximo Gomez.

An open house was held March 28, and the space was festooned with historic family pictures, including some from the cigar operation. A short time later, one of Carolynn’s friends was appraising antiques at an Auburn home and came across a bunch of old cigar boxes.

Yes, one bore the General Gomez name. That box will sit in a glass case in the lobby of the refurnished building at 808 Lincoln Way.

Of the fortuitous find, Basque said, “It had to be angels.”

Call The Bee’s Bob Shallit, (916) 321-1017.

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