Diary of a dairy deliverer: milkmen are making a comeback

Long before the sun rises, Pierre Paquette is up and loading his delivery truck at the Agropur Natrel depot, in Montreal’s east end.

“The dairy product, I think is the first thing you want in your fridge in the morning,” he said. “My milk, my dairy is fresh, fresh, fresh.”

They’re no longer a relic of the past; milkmen are making a comeback.

In the space of a year, Paquette has built his home delivery business from the ground up. The West Island Milkman now services more than 60 households per week.

“It's amazing and not only that, it's more affordable,” said Talia Brott, a Baie-D’Urfe resident who orders form Paquette weekly.

“His prices are less expensive than what I was paying at the grocery store, so I'm saving money and it gets delivered right to the doorstep.”

That’s more than a luxury for the mother of three young children under the age of five. Especially, when at the start of the pandemic, grocery stores started limiting sales to two cartons of milk per person, to ration supply.

“That was really difficult for us,” she explained. “We go through 14 cartons a week of three per cent and one per cent milk, and we were going to the grocery store sometimes twice a day."

Paquette’s transition to home deliveries was also born out of necessity. Before COVID 19, he did exclusively commercial deliveries.

Then, in March of last year, the economy shut down.

"I lost 80 per cent of my business and I say wow what can I do,” he said. “My wife had a good idea to maybe have home deliveries."

He built a website and the orders came rushing in.

“People really love it,” he said. “It’s a success.”

A year into the project, he’s not looking back.

“After the pandemic, I will stay in what I do with my website deliveries and I hope everybody will stay with me,” he said.

But, he’s not leaving anything up to chance. Paquette has already expanded what he offers to juices, eggs, and pastas from other local businesses. And he’s always sure to have something special on hand for the kids on his route.

“Any time there's a truck that passes the house, they're super stoked,” said Brott, of her three kids. “So to see someone walk up with two big cartons of milk is a thrill for them and he usually throws something in free with the delivery, whether its chocolate milk or sour cream."

“Chocolate milk is a winner,” Paquette laughed. “For everybody."

He believes his business is also a winner, and one that will continue to grow.

"I will retire with that,” he said. “I am 45 years old and if everything is good, I will retire with that." 

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