Some Missoula shoppers may be looking for help this year to avoid the crowds that come with the holiday season and Black Friday.
Melissa Burg, the owner and only employee of a local errand service, stands ready.
While the customer default becomes more of a corporate click and ship each year, Burg took her silver Nissan Versa to Costco Wednesday and delivered groceries to a client and picked up someone’s prescription for them.
Shopping has changed along with everything else during the pandemic and some of Burg’s older clients noted they are grateful to have someone to shop for them instead of braving the crowds.
Wendy Nelson, 66, said that for the past year she's subscribed Burg’s services, which has helped her do everything from grocery shopping to helping her sell old jewelry.
Before the pandemic hit, Nelson took public transit. That isn't an option she feels comfortable doing during the pandemic.
"She's my one and only go-to person," Nelson said of Burg. "If I could adopt her, I would."
Her days differ. Some days, Burg might have no calls. Other days, she’ll have multiple and they could be requests for shopping, cleaning homes, or courier services.
“I don’t over-schedule just in case,” she said adding that she relies mostly on her regulars.
Burg started her business in 2004 and has kept it going while holding other jobs on-and-off for sixteen years. With 2020 keeping some older shoppers inside, Burg’s work has become more sought and important.
She’s not just a personal shopper, she said. Her errand service covers a variety of what her clients may need.
“I am listed with the Missoula Aging Services, so I’ve helped a lot of elderly people,” she said.
Since the pandemic began, Burg said she’s had to adapt like other businesses with face masks and no-contact drop-offs, but she’s also received 15 to 20 more clients.
Burg said some of those new clients include out-of-state people who have been calling for their local loved ones.
Burg added that recently she had shipped 40 copies of a book for a client who wrote it during quarantine. Another client called from out-of-state to get some bullets shipped to him for hunting.
The Good Food Store Marketing Director Teresa Drew said that while she was aware of a rise in personal shoppers during the pandemic, she’s mostly noticed friends and family shopping for each other. The grocery is asking shoppers to shop less and increase their basket sizes as well as shop solo and shop fast to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Customers can call Burg or schedule services on her website.