Although Solo cups are staples at every fraternity party, dorm-room get-together and Facebook picture, students must often go to considerable lengths to find them.
But dormdogs.com, a new campus delivery service at Yale, brings those primary-colored pieces of plastic and other dorm necessities straight to students’ doors. Spearheaded by Pierson College seniors Alex Kleiner ’08 and Nick Thorne ’08, dormdogs.com offers 11 products, including Solo cups, Red Bull, printer paper, Kleenex, Orbit gum and a variety of cleaning supplies such as paper towels, Febreze and Swiffer Sweepers.
The service, which launched in September, is available only to Yale students, who can make purchases by logging onto the company’s Web site, filling their online shopping carts and paying either with cash or through Paypal.
Kleiner and Thorne said they were inspired to launch the service because even though students often use Solo cups at parties and other campus events, they are not always easy to find. Smaller local stores sell the cups, but at expensive prices, they said. Buying in bulk at wholesale stores often requires both a car and a club membership, and making accommodations for such a trip can be a hassle, Kleiner and Thorne said.
“We thought, here’s a great opportunity to make people’s lives easier,” Thorne said.
An informal survey of stores near campus backs up Thorne and Kleiner’s claim that dormdogs.com saves students both time and money. Students can buy Solo cups from dormdogs.com at cheaper rates than at both Gourmet Heaven and Durfee’s. The Web site also sells other college staples — including Bounty paper towels, Kleenex boxes and printer paper — for less than do local stores.
“I see no reason why you should buy printer paper at the bookstore,” Thorne said. “Ours is $1 cheaper, and we deliver right to your door. Printer paper can be heavy to carry.”
While dormdogs.com competes with local stores, Kleiner and Thorne said they are unaware of any similar services at Yale, though there are other schools that offer services based on the dorm-delivery model. At Princeton, for example, a university-sponsored service called “Tiger Foods” delivers food from local eateries to student dorms. But Kleiner and Thorne said their business is distinct because it is not university-sponsored and operates independently of the University. Kleiner also said the delivery services at other schools are “geared toward more instantaneous deliveries and are more snack-food-related.”
“What makes us different is that we are the place you go when you think ahead of time — I need a box of tissues for my room; I need paper towels; I’m going to have some friends over and I need cups,” Kleiner said.
Kleiner and Thorne said they are well aware that Solo cups at campus parties often hold beverages other than milk and orange juice. To acknowledge these alcohol-related issues, dormdogs.com has partnered with the Gordie Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to educating young people about safe drinking.
“On a very personal level, we are attached to issues of alcohol awareness because I had a friend die of alcohol poisoning,” Kleiner said.
Kleiner said his friend’s parents established the Gordie Foundation after their son’s death.
Every dormdogs.com delivery includes free promotional items from the Gordie Foundation, including bottle openers and beer cozies that list the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
“They’re not telling you not to drink,” Kleiner said. “They’re telling you to be aware of what the signs are of irresponsible drinking.”
Yalies who have used dormdogs.com said they are pleased with the new service.
Eli Hill ’08, who used to buy cups from Walgreens or Durfee’s, said she likes the convenience of the delivery service.
“They delivered the cups right to where I needed them,” Hill said.
Clayton Crooks ’09 said even though he knows it might be cheaper to buy in bulk, he is a fan of dormdogs.com because students do not always have the time to go shopping.
“People could always go to Costco and get it for cheaper, but who has time to do that?” Crooks said.
Kleiner and Thorne said they have seen steady growth in their fledgling enterprise. At the beginning of the school year, they said they were making about five deliveries per week, but they have now increased their sales volume to 10 deliveries per week and estimate that they have delivered about 3,500 cups.