Just when you thought Edmonton was too cold for year-round cycle delivery, think again
It all started when cyclist Dan Corredor was fired from his job.
Recognizing that Edmonton was missing a cyclist delivery service and wanting the flexibility to make money that wasn’t tied into a large corporation taking a cut of profits, Corredor recruited his cyclist buddies to start their own business.
“It was something I’d been thinking about for a little while. The democratic ownership of how you make money,” says cyclist and member of Champ City Courier co-operative Dan Corredor.
Now further down the road, Champ City Courier’s 10 cyclists are ready to deliver food to satiate last-minute cravings or flowers to your mom when called upon. The two tenants Champ City Courier was founded upon were promoting local business and equal input between cyclists.
“Organizing as a co-operative as opposed to a corporation is a lot more complicated to do, but it seemed to make a lot more sense just because of how our mentalities worked,” says courier member Josh Marcellin. “We wanted to have collective ownership, shared decision-making and be as flatly democratic as possible. As opposed to a corporation where maybe one of two people have most of the decision-making.”
What this means for potential customers is cheap delivery costs. Their flat rate for delivery starts at $4, which guarantees delivery in four hours. The next level is $5 for delivery in two hours or less and the sliding scale goes all the way up to $15 for priority delivery in under 30 minutes.
Part of the benefit of using a smaller co-operative like Champ City is that overhead costs are less for both parties. This means your money isn’t going to a bank account in Europe, for example, but instead into the hands of the very person that brightened your day with a thumb drive for the presentation you forgot about. Champ City is also a green company, so only sweat will be shed for your emergency cold meds to reach you.
Uber and other food delivery services take about a 20 percent cut of the total cost of delivery orders. Whereas with Champ City, the rate is flat and extra charges are only added for bigger (larger than a shoebox) and heavier items (over 10 pounds), as well as distances outside of each neighbourhood “zone.”
For example, a $3 bridge charge is added to orders delivered to downtown and surrounding areas, and a toonie charge is added for every extra zone the courier must cross to pick up your delivery.
For member Terris Glab, the profit model Corredor built the co-operative around made much more sense than the privately-owned courier service he had experienced while working downtown.
“Working daily as a courier has its perks, but one of the downsides is you’re only really maxing out on 60 percent of potential earnings, and it’s because there has to be someone else taking it. The person who organizes the contracts and has all the clients. So if we do it ourselves and maintain all of the work within our core group, we’re sharing 95 percent of the profits.”
The other five percent is put towards simple overhead and floating expenses required to keep the co-operative running in the longterm. This approach is surprisingly minimalist when compared to the 40 percent large courier companies take to pay upper management and dispatchers.
This model means each courier is a member of the co-operative and, as such, has an equal part of ownership and input in the direction of the collective.
Each courier must have extensive experience on Edmonton’s mean streets to run deliveries, and most have professional experience as couriers downtown. They all agree that the biggest obstacle for a cyclist on Edmonton’s roads is not being recognized by other vehicles as a form of transportation using the roadways. One cyclist tells a story of being punched by a motorcyclist driving by, and others have battle stories of being cut off or almost doored by a vehicle.
While the city has certainly made roads more bike-friendly with bike lanes and regular winter plowing, the culture is not quite there yet.
“It’s pretty safe to say we’ve all been hit by cars,” Marcellin says with the edge of a good-natured chuckle.
But each of the cyclists credit their years of experience on Edmonton’s extreme roads.
“The way we ride, we mostly assume we’re invisible and we ride like that—defensively, but assertively,” he says.
As for what they ride? Fixed-gear track bikes. But every one of them admit to having a fair amount of bikes—and various piles of bike parts—sitting at home at most times, which get switched and passed around the collective.
In the end, for all the members, Champ City is the ability to run a business and make money equitably amongst friends. Marcellin says there’s no one else and nothing else he’d rather be focusing his efforts with and on, as the rest of the cyclists nod emphatically.
“Being able to do it with your friends, doing something you’re passionate about, that’s the best part.”