A Publication of WTVP

With the rise of big-box stores, many services of yesteryear fell by the wayside as small, independent shops were replaced by the Walmarts of the world. Another casualty of this decades-long, David-and-Goliath battle? The milkman. While the concept of residential dairy delivery sounds about as quaint as a Leave It to Beaver rerun, one Peoria physician is determined to bring it back.

The brainchild of Dr. Daniel O’Brien, Merry Milk Delivery opened its virtual doors to consumers last September, utilizing an online storefront to offer local dairy products for the same price as the grocery store. Delivered by electric cars, gel cooler bags keep the product fresh, allowing customers to simply exchange their bags for a new one each week.

The idea struck O’Brien amidst his early-morning ritual of feeding his newborn son. “Ninety-plus percent of people drink milk,” he explains, “and it was a ‘happy’ job, associated with the nostalgia of the past: the smiling face of the milkman, who left people a little present of dairy products on the doorstep.” It was a simple, convenient service, and people liked it. So why did it fail?

It wasn’t for lack of demand—the reason most industries fail, he states. “It went out of business due to increased gas and refrigeration costs that occurred during the opening of larger box stores—stores which also sold dairy products.” During this time, he says, dairy producers had trouble keeping delivery costs down, and people were less interested in the service. “So what if you eliminated the factors that caused dairy delivery to fail?”

That’s exactly what Merry Milk Delivery has done, offering the simple essentials you need every week—milk, bread, eggs, coffee, yogurt, cheese, juice, etc.—delivered straight to your doorstep. Beginning with Prairie Farms dairy products, the business recently partnered with Great Harvest Bread Co. and Leaves N Beans to deliver their products as well. And, striking a bonus note of nostalgia, Merry Milk Delivery drivers arrive in full uniform—complete with white shirt, bow tie and cap.

So far, business is good, and O’Brien hopes to continue to expand its offerings. If you, too, find it annoying to walk to the back of a Walmart just to buy a gallon of milk, visit… and cross that item off your to-do list. iBi