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So how did all that random stuff you just ordered on the internet end up on your doorstep the next day?  I recently listen to a Radiolab podcast that told a story of these fulfillment centers- miracles of modern distribution.  Imagine a million square foot/17 football field-sized mega-warehouse containing everything from iPad covers to paper towels to Malibu Barbies.  You peruse Amazon from the comfort of your sofa, conveniently adding almost any product known to man to your virtual cart and viola, it magically appears on your doorstep, often in one perfectly sized box.

Now, if you’ve been following these blogs, you might remember the mention of a last minute phone call that changed the trajectory of one coWORKers life, as we discussed how to get to where you are.  Turns out one coWORKer was about to help Amazon write some of the software that would run this colossal distribution system, but when his friend called with a crazy idea, he took a leap of faith and flew out west to start up something totally unrelated…but I digress.

It seems like these super-sized warehouses would be reserved for super-sized business, but it turns out our very own Tom Harrison uses a similar service.  Okay, so it might not be 17 football fields long, but after years of hand packing maps in his garage he happily upgraded to a fulfillment center in the East Bay.  He tells us if it can sit on a shelf and go in a box, they’ll take it!

But what if it rots?  Fresh food has to travel from farm to table but it can’t sit around gathering dust on a shelf waiting for your order. coWORKer Bob is tackling this problem head on with Good Eggs, a company designed to connect local farmers with local consumers through an online grocery store.  But unlike Malibu Barbie, who can wait patiently on a shelf for her big day to arrive, his just picked provisions enter the warehouse in the early morning and are all gone (and on your table) by the end of the day.  Whew! Now that’s one heck of a coordination feat!

Written and photographed by Natasha Juliana. Curious about WORK?  Sign up for a free trial!