The loud rumbling of Peter Carreiro’s delivery truck came to a slow halt last Thursday evening as he quickly jumped out, a boisterous “hello!” traveling across the yard to one of his many loyal customers.
“Oh, we love milk!” Monica Aurigemma exclaimed as she scurried to give Carreiro an empty glass milk bottle.
Carreiro is an old-fashioned milkman, the only one in the area. His company, Rise ‘N Shine, is based on the premise of developing customer relationships and delivering fresh, locally based products directly to doorsteps.
As the sun set on Essex Jct. last Thursday, Aurigemma – who normally doesn’t catch Carreiro during his route – was ecstatic to see him.
“We like local milk. It’s delicious milk, and we just like to keep it in Vermont,” she said.
The reusable bottles, all returned and then washed by Carreiro, are one factor that attracts Aurigemma to the business. Then there’s the frozen pizza from Half Baked Pizza in South Burlington: A pie is always patiently waiting in her refrigerator, she said.
About 80 percent of the milkman’s 200 products are from Vermont.
“Milk gets us to the door every day,” he said, but people take advantage of his other offerings, such as Chobani and Stonyfield yogurt, Myers bagels, eggs, almond milk, Cabot cheese and snacks ranging from beef jerky to purple cornflakes. Chocolate milk is another favorite, he noted.
Carreiro asks what customers want to see on the truck, allowing them to be a part of the process, he said as he gathered up a family’s order and stepped out of his truck, crate in hand.
Aurigemma isn’t Carreiro’s typical customer, he said. Families with children are more likely to use his services since parents want to provide healthy meals, including GMO-free, organic and gluten-free options, all of which Carreiro has on board.
Last week, Carreiro transferred the customer’s order to the doorstop box, closing it with a thump and quickly making his way back to the truck. Delivering to 12 towns, including Colchester, the milkman has his route down to a science.
Next up was a driveway down a semi-lengthy mud-filled road. Trudging along, the vrooming truck slowly made its way to complete the order. As Carreiro executed a five-point turn to head back, a customer waved from the window.
Carreiro has graced Vermont doorsteps with milk for 12 years. He started as a milkman in Rhode Island in 1990 but sold his business to move to the Green Mountain State.
“It’s been in my blood ever since,” he said.
As his business has grown, so have his clients. Many families have been with him since the start, he said, and he’s watched their kids grow up. One moment they’re waiting on the curb with a doll in hand and the next they’re behind the wheel, he said.
“I have some people on our routes, their kids have had nothing but our milk … that’s all they know, is having a milkman,” he said, speedily walking down the street to his next stop.
Carreiro puts in a 12-hour shift, starting at 5 a.m. and finishing around 5 or 6 p.m. He makes between 40 and 85 stops depending on the day, collecting as many as 200 bottles to refill.
Carreiro figures he diverts a lot of waste from the landfill, or even recycling facilities.
“If [the bottles] were plastic instead of glass, and people had to put them in those blue bins and they crushed them down, it would be taller than Mt. Mansfield,” he said. “That’s how many bottles we keep out of the system.”
Vermonters buy and support local business and products, Carreiro said. The availability of a great dairy industry and high quality food products are added perks, he explained.
With comparable prices to markets like Healthy Living in South Burlington, Carreiro said people receive quality products with just a $2.99 delivery fee.
Delivering the products and seeing his customers is his favorite part of the job, he said.
After interviews with multiple television news outlets on National Milk Day, Wednesday, Jan. 11, he’s received a spike in new customer inquiries. He’s had to break the news to some that they’re not in his delivery range, but he added others to his route. He’s already thinking about where to deliver next.
For now, Carreiro is traversing the streets of Chittenden County and its outskirts, delivering goods to customers who he knows by name children and pets included.
“I love what I do. I really like it,” he said.
And as he spoke, he slammed his truck’s back door shut, bottles clinking in response.