Allen Davidson of Lewiston reads his customer’s shopping list at Shaw’s Supermarket in Auburn. Davidson operates “That Guy Delivery,” a full-service personal shopper business. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Allen Davidson had nearly a year of driving and shopping for Instacart under his belt when it felt like the right time to be That Guy.

“It’s like, what do you do when you need something? ‘Oh, you call that guy, the one that delivers stuff,’ and it just kind of stuck,” Davidson, 42, said.

That Guy Delivery opened in June.

Davidson, who works full time during the day for a financial institution, initially picked up driving after a divorce. He was starting over and could use the extra funds.

“Being a bachelor again, I had a lot of free time,” he said. “It just made a lot of sense.”

Everything was going along fine. Then, March.

“Right when COVID hit, it was insanely busy,” Davidson said. “I can say that I made much more in a week on my best week than I usually make at my full-time job in two weeks.”

But with a default tip of just 5% and the bulk of fees going to corporate, it made more sense to strike out on his own come summer.

“One of the most common requests that I always got while working for Instacart was, ‘So, can I request you next time?’ Unfortunately, you can’t do that, you get who you get,” he said.

He’s built up a base of regulars in a 15-mile radius around Lewiston, sticking to the area with the exception of a biweekly Trader Joe’s run to Portland.

Allen Davidson of Lewiston shops for vitamins at Shaw’s Supermarket in Auburn. Davidson operates “That Guy Delivery,” a full-service personal shopper business. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A friend prodded him, “‘People love Trader Joe’s and they go crazy for it’ — sure enough,” Davidson said. “A lot of it is the frozen food that they have.”

Most orders come in the night before, often using the Dumpling personal shopper app. He leaves his day job at 2:30 p.m. with a game plan.

On a recent day with three orders, Davidson started at Shaw’s in Auburn and drove that order to Minot. He hit Walmart on the way back through for a Lisbon customer, then Hannaford for a second Lisbon customer and, finally, Chick-a-Dee of Lewiston for takeout for the Walmart customer.

“She’s probably one of my best and favorite customers,” Davidson said. “She’s always very gracious, very generous, she orders two times a week and she gets upset with me if I don’t grab myself a snack.”

He charges a $15 delivery fee with a minimum 15% gratuity. Bags are left on customers’ doorsteps. Some regulars he’s never seen.

“I have a good mixture,” Davidson said. “I have people who either cannot leave the house or would prefer not to, especially to the grocery store, especially Walmart, and then people of means who are very busy and would much rather pay for a service.”

Most have found him through word of mouth. While he’s delivered the odd request, like a deck of cards or 10 lengths of fencing stacked on the roof of his Jeep, Davidson’s specialty is groceries.

“The people at Shaw’s are very nice,” he said. “They’ll usually see me coming, ‘What are we looking for this time? What’s going on?’ They’re always willing to help. With Shaw’s, I have a little cheat sheet that they gave me where everything is. Trade Joe’s is probably the biggest pain, remembering where everything is, because they move everything just a little bit every few weeks.”

With a background in customer service, Davidson said he enjoys the work. He’s hoping to see That Guy grow.

“I enjoy being out in public, as weird as that sounds,” he said. “Also, as cheesy as it sounds, I enjoy making sure people get the best deals. They asked for a smaller bottle, but for just a little bit more, it’s a much better deal … I think that all of my customers trust my judgment.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: