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Credit: Derek Malou/Unsplash

The creators of Trunkit are betting that people throughout the province need drivers to haul their stuff

Have a dresser you want to send to Kelowna as your niece moves into her first apartment? In Manning Park and forgot your ski poles? As it stands, no dice: shipping anything fast in that cross-section between “old” and “bulky” will cost you big—probably more than the item is worth.

That was the problem the Smith family faced a few years back when they needed to move a couch from their home in Pitt Meadows to their cabin in Vernon. “It was worth maybe $100,” says Greg Smith, a police officer with the City of New Westminster. “But shipping it would have cost hundreds.” His sons, Carter and Alex (now 17 and 15, respectively), pointed out how many trucks were likely driving back and forth on the highway with cargo space going to waste. “We started thinking, We’ve got to find a way to connect people,” Smith recalls.

And so they did. This past December, the trio launched the app for Trunkit, a peer-to-peer service that connects travellers with empty trunks, truck beds or trailers to people who have stuff to ship. Drivers post trip dates and a detailed profile; shippers post the package specs (including a photo—“So you can see: it’s a ladder, it’s a chair. There should be no mystery as to what you’re taking,” Smith explains). An algorithm provides a suggested rate, and the two parties negotiate from there. Shippers pay via the app—money is released after the package arrives—and Smith and his sons take a 15-percent cut.

One month in, Trunkit has almost 300 registered users, but beyond several test runs, the Smiths are still waiting for their first official P2P trip. (A delivery was booked in mid-January but had to be cancelled due to snow.) “People are posting trips, but we’ll need thousands, a critical mass,” Smith says. “We’re hoping it picks up exponentially in the spring and summer.”

With limited long-haul delivery options in the province, that optimism may be justified. “A lot of people in the Interior used Greyhound to get stuff around, and that’s gone now,” Smith notes. “It was very, very important, and we thought, Well, we can fill that a little bit.”