Anti-inflammatory product startup relocates from Truckee to Sparks
SPARKS, Nev. — In 2017, Sandra Dorst launched an online store for healthy food lifestyles in Truckee, where she shipped anti-inflammatory products based on the Paleo Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) diet out of a tiny 300-square-foot space.
At the time, Dorst knew if her online marketplace, ShopAIP, saw enough demand, the company would have to relocate to neighboring Reno-Sparks, a booming ecommerce and logistics hub.
Dorst, however, was waiting for a tipping point to trigger the move.
That came in March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the U.S. economy.
“When COVID hit, the demand for online food dramatically increased,” said Dorst, CEO and founder of the company.
With more consumers stocking their pantries by browsing webpages instead of store aisles, U.S. online grocery sales have exploded. For example, in June, sales industry-wide hit a record $7.2 billion, up 9% over May, according to research by Brick Meets Click.
Along with the increased online shopping habits across the country, Dorst said the pandemic heightened people’s focus on improving their overall health, which, for some, included seeking out specialized food.
ShopAIP sells approved foods for Paleo, AIP, gluten-free, low-carb and allergen-friendly lifestyles, said Dorst, who discovered the AIP diet after struggling with an autoimmune disease that caused debilitating symptoms.
“Between people realizing that although we may not have 100% of control over our health, there is quite a lot we can do to influence our overall health and wellbeing,” Dorst said. “Coupled with the need for contactless buying, it has allowed ShopAIP to prove to consumers that we can be there for them on both fronts.”
As a result, ShopAIP’s revenue shot up 85% compared to last year in Q1 of 2020, and jumped 107% in Q2, Dorst said.
“It became very obvious that the location we were in could not sustain the type of growth we were experiencing,” she said. “It became obvious over the last few months that the timing for the move was now.”
With that, earlier this month, ShopAIP settled into a 1,800-square-foot facility on East Greg Street in Sparks.
“This move represents the future and having easy access to facilities and a pool of employees that can easily grow with us,” said Dorst, noting the benefits of doing business in Sparks go beyond the access to facilities and workforce. “UNR being so close will be great not only for recent graduates, but also internships. There are so many other small businesses to help support a business like ours via marketing, printing, shipping materials, and even things like insurance and legal help.
“There’s a very active business community here and we are looking forward to becoming an active member.”
Dorst said she is looking forward to discovering local talent, and expects to add several more people to ShopAIP’s team in the coming months.
Over the next two years, the ShopAIP founder expects to hire more than 10 people. Moreover, if demand continues, she could see the company stretching out into a 10,000-square-feet space.
“The next two years of growth is crucial,” she continued. “However, once we’ve done the hard work to become attractive to investors, that’s when we’ll see the real growth in our staff and facility size and footprint in the market.”
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