This Year’s Holiday Heroes: Local Delivery Workers Bring the Season Home

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing almost everything about the holiday season—from shopping to family gatherings—residents and local businesses are relying more than ever on delivery workers this year.

Like many businesses, Leesburg furniture and home goods boutique 27 South started offering online ordering when the pandemic began, said co-owner Carolyn McCarter.

“That was a huge thing for us back then, and during that time frame, we offered free delivery, which was hard.” McCarter said. “It was literally myself packing up my car with like all these small deliveries to do across Northern Virginia. But I mean, people, just right now, they definitely want the luxury of having stuff sent to their home.”

For 27 South, business has been steady during the pandemic—it’s a good time to redecorate while people are stuck at home. Now, they partner with Bungii—like Uber for delivery trucks—and recently, with Oscar Arevalo, who just started his new business, Now Movers.

“He’s kind of our saving grace, because it is logistically difficult,” McCarter said. “And he’s helpful in the fact that he has good pricing.”

And, she said, they can trust Arevalo to know how to handle furniture, and to go to people’s homes.

Arevalo said it’s one of a few furniture stores for which he does delivery, along with moving. He said he does the best he can to make the customer happy, and, so far, they have been.

“I’m happy with my job, and I hope I can stay busy in the future,” Arevalo said.

And in some neighborhoods, delivery workers can be local heroes.

Eric Dunn, a delivery driver for UPS, has had the same route around Belmont Greene in Ashburn for almost 20 years. He has seen newborns grow up into teenagers on his route. He even moved into the area where he delivers.

And there, he is a familiar face. He has helped out with the local Pinewood Derby. He has played for two different faculty basketball teams at local elementary schools—where he delivers baskets while the students chant “UPS!” And even with the miles he already puts in, Dunn, who described himself as “a hillbilly, a country boy,” goes the extra mile with his deliveries.

Eric Dunn and his son Aiden. [Contributed]

For example, if he thinks he’s delivering a Christmas present, he tries not to let the kids get a look at it—”before I take the package out of the car, I look up at the windows to make sure they ain’t peeking, because they will peek,” Dunn said. 

And over the weekend, his neighborhood surprised him with a parade and a shower of gifts.

“It was probably about 40 cars, 50 cars, they had signs, tooting horns—it was overwhelming, man,” Dunn said. “It definitely touched me in the right spot.”

That was organized by someone else who saw him go the extra mile, Bre Khanbalinov. She and her family only moved into the neighborhood a few months ago, and one day she wasn’t home when Dunn came to deliver a new iPhone. So Dunn called her to make sure it got to her.

When she shared that story with the neighborhood Facebook group, she said, “everybody had a little story to tell.”

“Once I started hearing all of these stories and getting to know how special he was, I was like, maybe this could be something for him,” she said. She pitched the idea of doing something for Dunn, and it quickly grew—more than 120 people took part, she said, also giving Dunn small gifts, gift cards, and a money gift for the holidays.

“I really hope that he gets the recognition at work for everything that he’s done,” Khanbalinov said.

Dunn brought his young son, Aiden, too.

“He saw how much love I got for the first time, because he’s a little older now, and he saw it, so he was impressed,” Dunn said. “He was enjoying it.”

Business Delivery Backups

For small businesses, if anything, the difficulty has been getting new stock delivered to the store.

“There’s a global shortage of everything—of materials and shipping containers too,” McCarter said. “So, things coming over from overseas, there’s a huge price gouging going on, because there’s just not enough space because there’s such a demand in the U.S.”

“Some of our merchandise does come from overseas, so there’s been a lot of issues with customs, and things getting stuck in customs and they’re sitting in ports right now,” said Leesburg women’s clothing boutique Misguided Angels owner Kim Hutchings. “Accessories, mainly, and clothing that’s for whatever reason not being produced.”

Better to support the small business, Hutchings said, than Amazon—“they don’t need it.”

“I would love it if … they would understand how badly these local businesses do need it, especially this year,” she said.

Like 27 South, Misguided Angels offers shopping online, along with private appointments and the spacious shop on King Street.

Browse and order online from 27 South at 27-South.com, and from Misguided Angels at ShopMisguidedAngels.com.

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