Mountain biking may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you hear the term "gateway drug," but it's what fueled Zachery Avant's appetite for all things bike-related. The 27-year-old Charlotte native is one of the founders of Good Runnings, the city's first food-and-goods-exclusive bicycle delivery service. "Charlotte's pretty interesting right now in the fact that it's a little bit amorphous and experiencing a slight identity crisis; it's growing but doesn't know exactly what it's going to become," Avant says. "If Good Runnings can have a little impetus in that, then we had a voice in the matter." Launched on May 20, they currently serve NoDa, Plaza Midwood and Uptown. They plan to expand after their grand opening, slated for July 22.
Creative Loafing: You and your fellow Good Runnings co-founder, Nick Barlow, bonded via your shared love of biking. How did your pastime become your business?
Zachary Avant: Nick had some friends in New York who had undertaken similar ventures; these services exist elsewhere, it's a tested model. We, along with our buddy Bill Cleveland, thought the city needed a good bike delivery service in town and that we could make it happen. It's my first time really doing something like this. From the get-go, I've been expecting the unexpected to pop up. We had to hammer out the logistics in terms of figuring out a model to keep our rates low. So far, it's been flawless, with delivery times coming in under what we thought, so that's been an unexpected pleasant surprise.
You've partnered with local staples like Viva Raw and the Common Market, but customers can place à la carte orders to their liking, right?
Although what we can deliver is not limited to the businesses we collaborate with, forming those partnerships is important to us. We support local businesses and in turn, they support us. We're not chasing dollar bills as our entire driving force, but in the future, I would like for us to grow into the go-to delivery resource for the city. That would be the goal.
Despite what a look at rush hour traffic might lead one to think, Charlotte is recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community by The League of American Bicyclists. Do you think we've fully embraced cycling as a lifestyle?
I would say yes, it's become a lot more mainstream. I ride to commute, to run errands, and I'm sort of trying to make a career out of it as well. People find it's a simple, low-impact, enjoyable way to get around, and as a collective are saying, 'This is the world we want to live in, so let's make it that way.' I think the city doesn't really have a choice but to support riders.