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SMU grad launches freebie app in Dallas with edge to rival Amazon

A new on-demand gifting app called Afloat will make buying and delivering gifts from Dallas’ best shops as easy as ordering an Uber and faster and more rewarding than an Amazon ride.

Launched on February 1, the app is the creation of Southern Methodist University graduate Sarah-Allen Preston. She wants to make it easy for users to send gifts from local retailers — i.e. Madison, The Gem and Saint Bernard — with same-day or next-day delivery.

“At your fingertips, you can give gifts, support local businesses and build relationships,” Preston said in a statement. “Afloat uses technology to make these things easy and enjoyable, ensuring everyone reaps the real reward of doing good while feeling good.”

Users simply download the application, buy a gift registry from Dallas-area stores and send them directly to a recipient. The gifts are then prepared, wrapped and delivered the same day or the next day. (There’s a $15 delivery charge.) Easy, and no dealing with the dreaded “delayed shipping” emails from giant online marketplaces.

The app launches with merchandise from various stores, including housewarming gifts from Forget Me Not; family gifts from JoJo Mommy; and flowers from Pointers Petals. Other stores that have already signed up include Madre, Boxed Bites, Casamia, Holly Harris Designs, KidBiz/The Biz, Shop KSW, Liz and Honey, Madison McKinley, Marybeth, Sur la Vague, Miracle Milkookies, Mr. Big Books and Sugar. Boardz.

New products and stores are added every week, they say.

Preston, a professional event planner in her 30s, says she got the idea for the app during two life-changing events: her divorce and her son’s open-heart surgery.

Because she has always enjoyed celebrating relationships, holidays, events and milestones, she said, she wanted a way to personally express her gratitude for the outpouring of love she had received from her family and of his friends.

Afloat, she says, makes it quick and easy for people to send gifts to friends and family for any occasion (no matter how difficult) while supporting local brick-and-mortar stores.

“I realized that there was no platform to help me support those who were going through hard times like me AND celebrate the happy too,” she says. “So I created it. And gifts became the language of love afloat.”

Preston, who splits his time between Dallas and Kansas City, Missouri, soft-launched Afloat in Kansas City in December, and an official app will launch there, with the Dallas app, in February.

As a special giveaway at launch, they are offering free shipping. To follow, go afloat.life or on Instagram, @afloatlife.