When the founder of Detroit's new delivery service appeared on my front porch bearing the can of pop I had ordered online just 14 minutes earlier, I had to invite him inside to ask a few questions.
25-year-old Jimmy McBroom isn't just quick on a bike. On Monday, he launched Konbini, a service that allows those in the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods to order groceries and home goods online -- from ketchup and cleaning products to clementines or condoms.
The Utica native and Cranbrook grad went to Columbia University, where he wrote his thesis about "right-sizing" Detroit. McBroom returned to Michigan after graduating in 2010, but the idea for Konbini came from a late-night delivery service he used frequently as a student in New York.
"I'm not trying to stock anything too crazy," he said. "I'm just thinking sometimes people feel lazy, don't want to leave the house, and … after a certain hour you're stuck with what you have at the liquor store or the gas station."
McBroom envisions students at nearby Wayne State University as his "bread and butter," and some of the options -- pints of ice cream, ramen, Red Bull, individual rolls of toilet paper and the plastic Solo cups used in that most traditional of drinking games, beer pong -- seem to cater to a clientele that fuels a "study hard, play hard" lifestyle with late night snacks.
Konbini is currently open from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m and has a flat $3.50 delivery fee for orders, which are placed online and paid for in-person by cash or credit. McBroom said he's hesitant about the long hours, and as they see when customers place orders they may whittle down. After all, for now it's just McBroom, his roommate, a few friends volunteering and their bikes.
"My goal is to start a sustainable business. I'm not trying to be the one who's delivering food all day," he said. "It would be pretty sweet to be a job creator."
Konbini is first open for a trial run that lasts through Wayne's semester before closing on Dec. 19 and then reopening for good in January. Though the Woodbridge-based entrepreneur said he had only delivered two orders by late Thursday morning -- including to this reporter -- he's counting on the studying for finals stretch to build a customer base.
There are several other late-night delivery food options nearby, like Jets Pizza, which recently moved from Southwest to Midtown and expanded hours until 2 a.m. weekends. Bucharest Grill delivers delish shawarmas to 11 p.m. and Jimmy Johns delivers in a hurry until just after midnight on weekends. For now, Konbini appears to have the longest hours, and the most variety. The name, after all, comes from the Japanese word for convenience store.
"I guess in Japan, they're really full service. You can buy train tickets, concert tickets, fresh food. That's the model I'm aspiring to, but on the internet," McBroom said.
Konbini currently has little fresh food, and McBroom hopes to expand after business picks up. He imagines he could team up with some of the many individuals in Detroit who are starting pop-up restaurants and food businesses to help expand their reach and his selection.
"Part of my goal too is to hook up with people who are doing their own thing and help them find another way to get it to customers," he said.
"I know Detroit needs employment, and I see the food sector as kind of a burgeoning area of entrepreneurship and innovation."
Also on HuffPost:
The "Pennies in Water" Tip
"I'd say the strangest tipping story I can remember involved a long-term server at a restaurant in which I was the general manager. My server was having a bad night, and toward the end, a dinner party broke all tipping etiquette rules and left him nothing more than about 20 pennies...in the bottom of a glass of water.I'm still not sure why it happened, but the server scooped up the pennies, followed the party into the parking lot and threw them at the departing customers. A fight ensued and the cops ended up getting called. They ultimately hauled my server away in handcuffs and charged him with attempted assault. The charges were later dropped." <em>Story via David Bakke, Editor at <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/">Money Crashers Personal Finance</a></em> <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/take-tipping-quiz-what-kind-of-tipper.html" target="_blank">Take the Tipping Quiz: What Kind of Tipper Are You?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/6746802715/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: puuikibeach</a></em>
The Gift Card Tip
<strong>Story 1:</strong> "I got a customer who tipped me with a $15 Walmart gift card. He said he would not tip cash because bartenders and servers use it for drugs!" <strong>Story 2:</strong> "After drinking two Long Island iced teas and falling asleep at my bar, a customer went to pay her tab and had exactly enough money to purchase the drinks. She really wanted to give me something, and went through her bag and found a Wendy's gift card. 'There's just enough for a Frosty on there, enjoy!' she said (while I was thinking that a Frosty wasn't going to pay my rent). She was nice about it, so I kept my mouth shut even though I don't even like Wendy's. I carried it around for a while, and when I did finally try to use it on a road trip, the cashier swiped it, looked at me and said, 'sorry, sir, this gift card has a balance of zero."< <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/crazy-tipping-story-rush-limbaugh.html" target="_blank">Crazy Tipping Story: Rush Limbaugh Edition</a>]</strong>
The Make-Out Bribe
"I was working at a restaurant in Washington, DC, and there was this guy sitting at the bar. After chatting with him a little bit, he told me he'd give me a $100 tip if I would make out with him. Skeevy, but this would have equaled around 500% since he only spent about $20. I politely declined, saying 'I can't do that, I'm seeing someone right now.' I'll be honest, I would have done it, and I wish I did (especially after I learned that my boyfriend at the time was cheating on me). We chatted for a while, and I kept telling him 'I'm sorry I can't do that.' As he was leaving, he stopped, and with a completely serious look said, 'if you want to go to Paris, I'll take you to Paris.' I think he was serious." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/restaurant-policy-debates-should-credit.html" target="_blank">Restaurant Policy Debates: Should Credit Card Payments Be Limited?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/taniasaiz/4546732837/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: TaniaSaiz</a></em>
The "End Of The World" Tip
"One interesting story came on the eve of one of the many dates (yes, this has happened multiple times) in the recent past when the world was supposed to "come to an end." I think it was in May 2011. A server of mine came to me at the end of the night and said she just got a $100 tip on a $20 tab from a single guest. She mentioned it to the customer to make sure he didn't make a mistake. His response was, "No, it's all yours. The world is ending tomorrow, so I won't have time to spend it." He clearly wasn't trying to eat cheap on this night!" <em>Story via David Bakke, Editor at <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/" target="_blank">Money Crashers Personal Finance</a></em> <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/must-try-cheap-eats-in-7-cities.html" target="_blank">Must-Try Cheap Eats in 7 Cities</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixagraphic/4244292846/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: pixagraphic</a></em>
<strong>Story 1:</strong> "Here's a tip: find a different line of work!" <strong>Story 2:</strong> "While signing the tab for her credit card, a customer decided to give me a verbal tip as well. She looked at me and said I had the eyes of a serial killer, I should be careful when I walk around midtown because I might scare people." <strong>Story 3:</strong> "I had a guy write on the tab, 'Don't stand up in a canoe.' Um...." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/service-debates-when-are-requests.html" target="_blank">Service Debates: When Are Requests Unreasonable?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tigerzeye/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: lifecreations</a></em>
The Trippy Tip
"Back in the early '80s I was a hostess at a Pizza Hut. One very busy lunch rush, I was carrying a pitcher of soda and a tray of ice-filled tumblers out to a table I had just seated when another customer stuck out his foot and tripped me. I held on to the soda, but the tray went flying. I can't swear he did it on purpose but if he didn't, it was awfully clumsy of him. On the chance it was deliberate, for the rest of his visit, I was absolutely fawning. I filled his glass several times, pre-bussed his table, got his dessert when the server was busy and generally killed him with kindness. When I went to clear his table, two slips of paper lay there. A $5 bill was under one marked 'for the waitress.' Under the other was a $20 bill marked 'for the hostess, with my apologies.' My grandmother was right about catching more flies with honey!" <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/which-dishes-bring-home-bacon-look-at.html" target="_blank">Which Dishes Bring Home the Bacon: A Look at Restaurant Mark-Ups</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/audin/2045716381/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: Audin</a></em>
A Tip For Kicking Someone Out
"I was bartending at a super-busy bar and these two drunks were sitting on the stools, making out with each other and bothering the patrons. After a while it became clear that they had too much. I went around filling drink orders, and when I got to them I just told them that the only thing they could order for the rest of the night was water. Cut. Off. They were super pissed, railing about how 'stupid' the bar was as they gathered their things and left (nearly falling over). Yeah, they didn't end up tipping me after they paid, but another customer more than made up for it when he turned to me, said, 'thanks for getting rid of those a--holes' and put a $20 down on the bar just like that." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/would-you-pay-to-have-your-silverware.html" target="_blank">Would You Pay to Have Your Silverware Replaced?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/776733587/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK</a></em>
The 200% Tip
"It was 12:55 AM on a Saturday night and three friends and I needed a late-night pick-me-up after a night of hopping around to a few shows. We were in Kansas City, Missouri, visiting my in-laws and some friends. After much debate, we decided to stop at Winstead's since my husband had raved about their delicious milkshakes. We walked in, and the nice waitress told us they closed at 1 AM, but if we ordered in the next five minutes, we could stay. How nice is that? So we quickly decided and ordered a vanilla Skyscraper (a milkshake that serves at least eight-10 people and comes in a giant pitcher that looks like a flower vase), some fries, onion rings and The Winstead (a burger).Our food came within a few minutes and we began to chow down. It was getting close to 1:15 AM, and we began feeling bad because we were the only ones in the restaurant and all the employees were cleaning up. This is when we all decided we were going to leave a very big tip. We finished up and left almost a 200% tip. As we were walking out the door, the friendly waitress yelled "Thank You!" to us, and we were on our way. But as we were walking to the car, we turned around to see a dancing waitress waving money in the air. We were thrilled as well to give a little extra to make someone's night that much more special." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/8-totally-overrated-ingredients.html" target="_blank">8 Totally Overrated Ingredients</a>]</strong></strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gemsling/542274369/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: gemsling</a></em>
The $100 Tip
<strong></strong>"The best tip I ever got was from a regular guest of mine who couldn't secure a table in my station but could watch my busy night. On his way out of the restaurant, he shook my hand and said, 'You work too hard.' He tipped me a hundred dollars on the one night I didn't wait on him. Never did beat that." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/tipping-quiz-results.html" target="_blank">Tipping Quiz: The Results</a>]</strong>