Not two days after sending out our Unsusual CSAs story, we came across yet another cool CSA-ish club that’s recently surfaced in Brooklyn. The LocalBee is an aggregator-cum-buying club that allows members to order fresh, organic produce and boutique food products sourced from a curated selection of local retailers, regional farmers and artisan producers. After ordering, you go and pick up all your goodies in one spot.
The idea was born when co-founder Jay Reno was pursuing a masters in environmental science at Columbia University. “My apartment was across from Gristedes and it was so convenient that I found myself going there all the time," he said. "But I had to go south to Trader Joes for packaged foods and to the farmer’s market.” Reno’s experience characterizes that of most New Yorkers--running around town to procure specialty goods from a multitude of purveyors. The LocalBee was conceived as a way to “leverage the selection of a Whole Foods, the community aspect of a farmer’s market and the ease of Fresh Direct.”
Members log on and order from an ever-growing roster of local and national purveyors (including Salvatore Brooklyn, Khims Millenium Market, Blue Apron Foods, Rick’s Picks, Van Leeuwen and Scratch Bread) up until midnight, then pick up their wares the very next day. So far, pick-up spots include Urban Vintage café in Clinton Hill, Prospect Wine Shop in Park Slope and Michael Towne Wine & Spirits in Brooklyn Heights, with a half-dozen other spots in the works. “Fresh Direct requires you are at home for hours at a time. We’re at a spot for four hours at a time, and you can come at your leisure,” Reno explained.
And even better? There’s no mark-up–goods will be priced exactly the same as if they were being purchased directly from retailers, a deal Reno and company struck in exchange for expanding the reach of local shops that currently only attract people who live in the immediate area. It’s a set-up that benefits producers, retailers and consumers, taking the leg-work out of shopping local and melding all the buzzwords of Brooklyn foodie-ism (sustainability! health! community support!) with good old-fashioned point-and-click laziness.
The project will be launched as a pilot on Oct. 15and run through the end of November, relaunching in the spring if all goes well. Sign up here to be notified when the site goes live.