The family decided this week that the well-intentioned project was not going to work out.
Shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic is an ordeal for the strongest and healthiest of us, let alone the elderly or immune compromised. But two bright and big-hearted Scarsdale High School sophomores are seeking to make things a little easier on Scarsdale’s frailest and most vulnerable citizens. They started AJ Delivery, a service that will shop for all the essentials, and then deliver the goods right to customers’ doorsteps.
“We thought of the idea just yesterday [Monday],” said Aron Frishberg of the new venture, which he launched with his best friend Joshua Im (the “J” in AJ). “I kind of thought of it, and I brought it to Joshua, and he thought it was a great idea too.” As of Thursday, they have three customers who told the boys they will tell their friends and neighbors about the service.
Neither of the boys drives independently yet, though Frishberg, 16, does have a learner’s permit. “Mainly, we plan to ride our bikes to the stores and to people’s houses,” he said. “We both live in Greenacres, and we can ride to DeCicco’s or to a Stop & Shop in White Plains, and there’s also a CVS in Hartsdale that we can go to.”
Customers call in their shopping list, and the boys pick up the goods at stores along the route to the person’s house. The bill is paid upon delivery, and while one might conclude Frishberg and Im are capitalizing on a get-rich-quick opportunity, that is far from reality. In fact, the boys don’t plan on making any money at all. Instead they plan to round up every purchase to the nearest $10 (“if someone’s order is $107, we’ll charge them $110,” Frishberg explained), and then donate the extra funds to causes dedicated to the eradication of coronavirus.
They said their motivation is a desire to be of service to the community and to practice philanthropy. “We’re scared for the older residents because they are more prone to this [virus],” Frishberg said. “We want to help other people because we are in a position to help.”
Taking precautions to prevent spreading the virus is part of their plan, Frishberg said. “It’s a bit scary, but if you have the proper equipment it’s not so bad. Since we’re so young there’s a very low chance of us getting it and having any symptoms of it, really,” Frishberg said. He said he would wear an N95 mask if it escalates to the point where he needs it, and he would wear gloves as well.
The abbreviated academic schedule makes the venture possible, he added, saying “We both have a ton of extra time because we don’t have school, and so we thought we would do this.” Frishberg estimates that between himself and Im, “we can do anywhere from 10 to 30 runs a day and still have time to do our e-learning schoolwork.”
Frishberg’s parents — his father is a portfolio engineer; his mother works as a travel agent — both enthusiastically support AJ Delivery. “If needed, we could always have one of our parents drive,” Frishberg said, adding that he’s confident he and Im will be able to service residents who live anywhere within the boundaries of Scarsdale.
While this joint venture is Frishberg and Im’s biggest entrepreneurial effort so far, both have demonstrated a flair for business. Frishberg is busily at work on an app that will help people catch up on the plots of their favorite TV shows, while Im is in the process of trying to start his own fashion design company.
The boys have a plan and the best of intentions — now all they need are customers. “We’re hoping that readers of The Scarsdale Inquirer will reach out to us, and Joshua and I are busy making flyers,” Frishberg shared.
In addition, Frishberg said, they plan to reach out to officials at village hall and the mayor’s office in hopes of receiving some advice. They’d like pointers on how best to reach the senior population and alert them to the existence of their service.
For now, anyone with information about a senior or other person in need of AJ Delivery’s shopping services should contact Frishberg and Im to let them know. “We are in the process of setting up a joint email, but for now the easiest way to reach us is to phone me,” said Frishberg. The number is 914-646-1820.