Photos and Words by Clinton Nguyen
There is a bit of a problem with Late Night at Marciano Commons, and that problem is, it's not open nearly late enough to be truly considered "late night." What's open for those in South, or Bay State Road, or the people living near Central who aren't close to a real late night pick-me-up? Keep your eyes open for the orange flash, the tangerine-jumpsuited fellow whizzing down the streets at night during the obscenely wee hours.
Have a Sweet Idea started as a one man job run by John Piermarini. It is the culmination of a more than a year of unfulfilling corporate work at IBM, not to mention an 8 month long trial at Tufts University, and also a history of baking a gratuitous amount of cookies for friends and neighbors during Piermarini's college years. But what was his motivation? Take it from John himself: "Basically, I love baking cookies and making drunk and high kids happy. Those are two big goals of mine. (Good goals, lofty goals.)"
John was well received at Tufts, where he first donned his distinct orange jumpsuit. He became accustomed to the campus' sloped hills, and became the campus' own "Cookie Man." With success, popularity, and cookie dollars ("The best kind of dollars," he says) paying his bills, he began thinking about expanding. And so he did--Have a Sweet Idea expanded onto Northeastern University around the beginning of September and in the recent months he also recruited three more cookie-delivering cavaliers to take his stead on Tufts.
Sweet Idea reached Boston University a couple of weeks ago, September 27th. John's route runs through almost the entire length of the Boston University campus, from the tail end of Bay State Road (sorry Danielsen) all the way up to Packard's Corner, hitting most if not all of South Campus along the way. Currently customers can order cookies through two channels: text or email.
Two things required of the delivery crew are a smartphone and a bike. Keeping your business mobile necessitates a mobile business. Not only does a smartphone enable maps and navigation to customers on the fly, but it also channels text messages sent from a main number to individual delivery staff. Using Google Voice, an telephony service that allows for text messages to be forwarded to different numbers, Sweet Idea is able to dispatch individual orders to staff members. This makes it possible for customers to simply send texts to one number instead of sorting through five. "We're trying to develop different ways of sorting through texts. We sometimes run up the daily text limit [on Google Voice], " says Piermarini.
So what happened at BU on opening night?
John delivered directly to my doorstep just before midnight in an orange poncho in light drizzle on the night Sweet Idea took to BU. "Yeah, cold and wet, not so great for the first day," he said cheerfully, "but rain? Rain only makes us stronger." Have a Sweet Idea promises to deliver cookies in rain, sleet, snow, or whatever disastrous inclement conditions you can think of. With that amount of enthusiasm, Have a Sweet Idea will no doubt appeal to those needing quick snacks under impossibly stressful conditions. It will be interesting to see how they will develop in this yet untapped market.
Have a Sweet Idea runs from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, delivering four different flavors: chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, white chocolate oatmeal, and Tazadoodle, with more upcoming. Packs run at $5 for 5 for chocolate chip and snickerdoodle, while Tazadoodle and white chocolate oatmeal run at $6 for 4 larger cookies. Text 424-241-2825! Follow Sweet Idea on twitter!