Iowa City Downtown District to debut free delivery service

The delivery service will specifically be for soft good retailers located downtown, with the official vehicle provided by the Toyota of Iowa City.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa City Downtown District office front as seen on Sept. 2.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

Residents of the corridor area will soon be able to order clothes, books, and toys from downtown businesses from their couch.

Beginning Sept. 8, the Iowa City Downtown District will launch a new delivery service for soft goods businesses as customers shift to online shopping.

The delivery service will provide those living in the Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and Solon areas a way to shop downtown from their home. The service will be available Monday through Thursday and will deliver to the Cedar Rapids area on Fridays.

Soft-good retailers sell things like clothes, books, and toys, and do not sell food or tobacco products.

The delivery is of no additional charge to businesses and customers — MidWestOne Bank and Toyota of Iowa City sponsor the program.

Iowa City Downtown District Operations Director Betsy Potter said the idea for the service was presented by one of the retailers located downtown as a way to attract a wide range of customers.

“This was an idea that one of our retailers had come up with as a way to help soft goods downtown reach their customers easier, or to expand their customer base to those that may only be able to be accessed via delivery,” Potter said.

Potter said there are almost 30 soft-goods businesses involved in this new service, each with individual situations that prompted them to take part.

“A lot of the businesses haven’t gotten into delivery or haven’t been able to get into delivery because of staffing, so we’re trying to take that off their plate or open up an opportunity for them,” she said.

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Potter said orders will be placed directly through the stores themselves, which will then contact the downtown district about the need for delivery.

One of the four staff members will deliver the goods via the official downtown delivery vehicle, provided by Toyota of Iowa City, she said.

Toyota of Iowa City representative Mike Huber said the vehicle was donated to the downtown district as a way for the dealership to support the local businesses within the downtown district.

“[It’s simply] partnering with our partners,” Huber said. “We have many customers that are downtown business owners or that work in downtown businesses, so we’re helping them out when they might need help.”

Catherine Champion, owner of Catherine’s Boutique in downtown Iowa City, said with the increased demand for stores to deliver during COVID-19, about 25 percent of the store’s website is routed through the website.

Champion said she thinks this service will be beneficial and will help take stress away from business owners and employees.

“I feel like it’s just something that we need,” Champion said. “We spend so much time delivering things, and it’s obviously a need with [COVID-19] right now, and people wanting contact less pick up, and for people that can’t leave their house.”

Champion said she believes this delivery service will provide the surrounding communities with an additional way to support businesses in the downtown district, which will ultimately strengthen it.

“Downtown Iowa City is the healthiest downtown that I’ve seen, I mean period, end of story,” Champion said. “We have a great, diverse, crew of businesses…and we have a community that supports those businesses.”