2017-03-10 / Front Page

Idea leads to IKEA delivery service

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Peg Donovan of West Kennebunk poses alongside the logo of her new business, Svan Delivers, which transports goods ordered at an IKEA store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, to customers across southern Maine. (Courtesy photo) Peg Donovan of West Kennebunk poses alongside the logo of her new business, Svan Delivers, which transports goods ordered at an IKEA store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, to customers across southern Maine. (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNK — They say necessity is the mother of invention, but sometimes convenience is the mother of inventing a new business.

Last fall, prior to a meeting in the University of New England College of Pharmacy, where she works as operations manager, West Kennebunk resident Peg Donovan casually mentioned to co-workers that she had plans for a day trip to the IKEA store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, to pick up some goods she had ordered.

As it so happened, three of her colleges had orders ready at the IKEA store as well, and each asked if Donovan would mind picking up theirs while she was there.

“The light bulb just went off and in the moment a business was born,” she said, on Monday.

Late last year, Donovan formed Svan Delivers, believed to be the first brand specific business of its kind in Maine. Donovan takes requests through her website, svendelivers.com, and each weekend picks up customer orders at the IKEA store, delivering them to points across southern and central Maine.

IKEA is, of course, a Swedish company renowned for its ready-to-assemble furniture.

“I have always loved IKEA,” Donovan said. “It’s furniture is all beautifully designed and made of sustainable materials. The lines are clean and it’s all well-constructed, making it great for kids and families.”

But IKEA only has two stores in New England, and the other one is even further south, in Connecticut. The company uses a private contractor to deliver it’s furniture which is shipped in so-called “flat packaging” that, Donovan notes, “are heavy and cumbersome for people to handle.”

The shipping is also expensive, often as much as $300 to $400.

“So, if it’s just a table, or a desk, often the shipping can be more than the product itself,” Donovan said. “For example, this past weekend I delivered a $70 bookcase to a person in Brunswick that IKEA would have charged $399 to ship. I delivered it for $38.”

Donovan sometimes adds on a small surcharge to places more than 20 miles from Portland, depending on the size of the order. But even then, the reaction from customers, along with the sudden meteoric rise in requests for delivery, has been nothing short of phenomenal, Donovan says.

“It’s been overwhelming, everyone is so excited we are doing this,” Donovan said. “It saves them an entire day of travel, going through Boston traffic, and walking through a four-acre store. Plus, with IKEA’s contracted delivery service, you never know when your package is going to arrive. I give a two-hour window, and call ahead 30 minutes before I get there.”

“The reaction has been very, very positive,” said Donovan’s husband Ray, who notes that coming up with the company name, Sven Delivers, was his “sole contribution to the business.”

“Well, that and lifting the packages,” he jokes.

“This idea exists in other parts of the country and, before starting, I reached out to some business owners and they gave me an idea of what to expect,” Peg Donovan said. “However, I think it’s far surpassed what I was told to expect, and, in some cases, even what those other business are doing.”

IKEA furniture is notoriously perplexing to put together, but Donovan has that covered, too. She’s hired South Portland resident Pete Himmer to assemble items on request for a fee commensurate with the size of the project, from a single table to an entire commercial office set-up.

“I’ve been enjoying the challenge of putting together all kinds of IKEA furniture,” Himmer said. “I work full time as a carpenter during the week so this is a nice change of pace. It’s been great to see people so pleased with their new furniture once it’s been assembled, as not everyone loves working with an Allen wrench, or the pictogram assembly instructions.”

Apart from that stress relief, customers also seem to enjoy the fact that Sven Delivers is owned and operated by a woman, Ray Donovan says.

“I think that people see the value of what Peg is doing and the idea of it — the fact that it’s a local small business, woman owned and operated,” he said. “That’s because 90 percent of the people we deliver to and interact with are women, of all ages, from young mothers to senior citizens.”

In today’s world, women are well-advised to be wary of who they invite into their homes, and the Donovans say, despite its popularity and growth, there have been a few, particularly on Craigslist, who have questioned if Sven Delivers is “legitimate,” or a scam designed to gain access to a home, or else abscond with IKEA products.

“Like anything in this day and age, there’s an element of trust,” Ray Donovan said. “We just want people to understand that, yes, this is real, legitimate business, and she [Peg Donovan] is really doing it.”

Sven Delivers is an independent delivery service and is not affiliated with IKEA. If an order is placed through Sven Delivers, but that item is suddenly unavailable when the Donovans are at the IKEA store, they will either pick up an agreed-upon alternative, or else delay the order until the next visit.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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