The following is a post we contributed to Ecotrust's blog, published February 22, 2016.
Here at B-line Urban Delivery, we tackle last-mile delivery challenges for local and regional food producers every day. After all, delicious wild salmon, grains, grass-fed beef, produce, and dry goods don’t magically appear in our pantries. Keeping the regional food economy thriving is at the core of the Redd on Salmon Street, which is why we could not be more excited to make it our new home.
Since January, B-line has been headquartered at the Redd’s Marble building, where we operate our central-city freight delivery business from a warehouse formerly inhabited by slabs of marble. Now, pallets of hot sauce, granola, and pasta rub elbows with freezers full of grass-fed beef and wild salmon.
The hum of refrigerators putting a chill on local sauerkraut, cranberry juice, and lamb mingles with conversation between suppliers and our sturdy crew of delivery riders dressed head to toe in waterproof gear. And, of course, our fleet of cargo delivery tricycles, each capable of carrying 700 pounds of goods are central to this hub of activity.
From our new home, we continue to do the work we’ve been accomplishing since 2009 — providing an efficient, nimble last-mile delivery solution into downtown and inner eastside, reducing the truck and van traffic congesting central Portland.
Beyond our daily deliveries, our new space enables us to function as an urban consolidation center for regional food. With more room for dry storage plus a 3,000-square-foot cooler/freezer in the works, we will have the ability to hold hundreds of pallets of local goods. We have a loading dock for large trucks and trailers and can receive everything from multiple pallets down to a few cases, store it, and then combine those goods for delivery by trike or coordinate with distributors to transport to restaurants, groceries, and offices throughout Portland.
For years, Ecotrust and B-line have been hearing that product storage in the heart of Portland can make a huge difference to small and mid-sized food businesses. For rural producers, maintaining a consistent supply of product for an urban clientele is a considerable challenge. Having a place to store large quantities of seasonally harvested product like grass-fed beef in the central city can make a world of difference when responding to weekly demand from chefs.
Likewise, small-batch or specialty products from entrepreneurs hoping to make it onto the shelf at New Seasons will have a place at the Marble. Our solution is to provide these small businesses a place to safely store product, along with access to a pick-and-pack table for efficient order processing.
Sounds pretty basic, but we’ve gotten an enthusiastic response from small business owners about how great it will be to have one central, easy-to-access place to get down to business.
We are excited to be a part of the growing community of food entrepreneurs at the Redd on Salmon Street, sharing resources, collaborating and keeping the maker spirit and “Produce Row” history of inner industrial Southeast Portland alive. It is the perfect spot for B-line to grow our capacity to meet the needs of the enterprising people who keep us fed and keep Portland on the culinary map.