by Alison Bailey
Sofie’s Scoops, Olympia’s iconic downtown gelateria, was one of a handful of local eateries quick to pivot their business model in response to the conditions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The same day Governor Inslee issued the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Sofie’s Scoops owners Sofie Landis and Chris Proctor unveiled their online ordering system.
When the crisis struck in March, Sofie and Chris were gearing up for their fourth summer at their walk-up gelato counter in downtown Olympia’s 222 Market. After three consecutive summers of end-over-end growth, they were excited to start their busy season feeling prepared for the demand.
When the governor’s order closed their doors, Sofie and Chris knew they had to take advantage of the provision allowing eateries to continue offering delivery and pick up. But would their fans be game for gelato delivery? They decided they had to try to find out.
In the third week of March, Sanity Scoops was born. It was a pre-order system at sofiescoops.com that brought handmade gelato right to your doorstep. Sofie got the word out by alerting local radio stations and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce. She also took to Instagram to alert her 5,000 followers.
Their brand-new online ordering system went live on a Monday, and in just a couple of days they had to turn it off because they couldn’t keep up with the demand. “That first week of deliveries was very stressful,” Sofie says.
New technology and new procedures can be challenging for any business, but Sofie and Chris were diligent about keeping track of what worked and what didn’t and making adjustments along the way.
By the third or fourth week of Sanity Scoops, their operation was dialed in. Sofie managed incoming orders, customer service and marketing Monday through Wednesday.
On Wednesdays, Chris made all the gelato. Thursdays, they packed it. On Friday, delivery began!
In mid-April they opened the storefront from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays for a socially distanced pick up service. On Saturdays and Sundays, Sofie drove for five to six hours each day to deliver gelato as far as Tenino and Rochester.
“It’s actually been really special seeing everyone where they live,” says Sofie. “I’ve definitely had a few kids answer the door and start screaming when they realize I’m delivering gelato.” On average, she’s been making 60 to 70 deliveries in a 3-day weekend stretch.
Sanity Scoops is in its final weeks here at the end of May. Look for news of the walk-up scoop counter re-opening in the coming weeks. Sofie says they plan to coordinate their re-opening efforts with those of the 222 Market and will comply with all state guidelines.
Sofie is thrilled that they sold every last scoop of gelato they made in these ten weeks. “We are super appreciative of how incredibly supportive the community has been,” she emphasizes. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”
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