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Silverdale man turns errand running into business
Bryan Garrett always listens to his mother.
And the Silverdale man took a suggestion from his mother and turned it in to a successful business.
“I was out of work and looking for a job,” he said. “Just to keep busy, I was running errands for her and once in a while helping out some of her friends with things. When I got discouraged about not finding a job, she said to me ‘Why don’t you do what you’re doing for us as a job?’ “
That was it. Garrett decided to study the idea and came up with Kitsap Errand Runner. For a fee, he’ll run errands, do shopping, make a trip to the dump, or pet sit and house sit. It’s taken three years, but the business is growing.
“At first, I wanted it to be a personal concierge service,” he said. “But then I realized this is Kitsap County and I needed to just call it was it is,” he said. “So I decided that it should be called an errand service.”
Garrett researched similar services throughout the country by looking on the Internet. He wrote a business plan, got business cards printed, started a website and put his plan into operation. In the first year, he had to work another job on the weekends as a bellman at the Clearwater Casino. During the weekdays, he ran his errand business.
“I was working 70 hours a week,” he said. “It was hard. But I knew it was the only way to get the business going.”
The second year he called the “Running for Mayor” year.
“I just took a stack of business cards and started shaking hands,” he said. “This is a personal business and it takes meeting people on a personal level.”
Soon his business began to take off by word of mouth.
Now in its third year, Kitsap Errand Runner is his sole job and he works five to six days a week. While there’s still room for growth, Garrett says in the past year he’s seen a 22 percent growth in sales.
Some of his business comes from his regular customers who use him on a weekly basis. Other customers call just when they need him.
He has a base rate of $28 an hour for errands and $35 an hour for calls that require more labor, like mowing lawns or cleaning out rental properties. He also offers packages that give repeat customers discounts if time is bought in bulk. If the errands are within a core area, there is no extra change for mileage. But if the errands require more than 15 miles, there is a fuel fee of 55 cents a mile.
“The cost of fuel can really affect my bottom line,” he said. “And it’s so unpredictable. So the fuel fee is just about the only way I can stay ahead of the game.”
One of Garrett’s regular clients is the owner of a business in downtown Poulsbo.
“She sends me her shopping list by email on Sunday and I do her shopping every Monday morning,” he said. “And do her banking, too. That way she can stay in her shop and run her business. And she tells me that by not shopping herself, she saves money because she doesn’t impulse buy.”
Another customer is an older woman Garrett fondly calls “Mrs. D.”
“I do her grocery shopping, pick up her prescriptions and sometimes her orders at JC Penney’s,” he said. “And then I put her groceries away and once in a while change a lightbulb or put out her trash for her -- just about anything she needs.”
He’s happy with the nickname “Do’er of the To-Do List.” He’s happy running to the bank, or taking deliveries to their destinations, or even meeting customers at the nursery.
“Because I have a truck, some customers ask me to meet them places like the nursery and take whatever they’ve purchased to their home,” he said. “They just don’t want bags of soil or plants in the back seat of their nice sedan.”
A native of Florida, Garrett came to the Pacific Northwest in 1977 when assigned to NAS Whidbey. He fell in love with the mountains and stayed. He met and married his wife, Diane, in 1979. He has lived in Kitsap County for 20 years. He previously worked for an automotive group in Poulsbo before being laid off in 2010.
“I thought I’d be able to find a job right away,” he said. “My wife was working so we were able to make it. But after nine months I still didn’t have a job.”
That’s when his mother, who lives in Silverdale, suggested the errand-running business.
He’s never surprised at the calls he gets.
“I got a call from a customer in Minnesota who wanted me to go to Belfair and pick up fenders for a 1934 automobile and take them to Tacoma to be shipped to him in Minnesota,” he said.
He’s also promoted other businesses. A recent call came from a t-shirt company asking him to find all the tattoo parlors in Kitsap County and deliver them a sample t-shirt and brochures, in order to promote her business.
He’s posted roadside signs advertising events and then gone around and taken down the signs after the event. And he’s house-sat, cat-sat, and even cared for a bird.
For Garrett, who is a dedicated member of the Sylvan Baptist Church in Silverdale, his work is more than running errands.
“If you go anywhere on the weekend, you see moms and dads running from place to place, dragging their kids along,” he said. “You just know they’d all rather be at home or out somewhere doing something fun with the family. If they didn’t have so much to do, they could spend time with their family, or spend time doing what they love. Kids are missing out and the parents are missing out.
“That’s where I come in. I just have a desire to help people. By running their errands, I’m helping them create time for themselves.”
Garrett admits he wishes he could do it all for free. But he has a mortgage and bills to pay.
“This job is something that makes me feel like I’m helping others and yet, I’m able to make a living,” he said. “And now that my wife has gone back to school to become a teacher, it’s really important that I make it.”
And, he said, he saves time each week for his mother.
“I still do her errands,” he said. “I make sure I take care of her.”
Contact Garrett at 360 471-9504 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Facebook page is Kitsap Errand Runner.