ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s Sunday morning. I open my eyes and can tell by the location of the sun in my room it’s almost 10 a.m.
Finally my I’m-never-going-to-shut-up-and-give-you-peace brain let me sleep later than 7:30 a.m. I feel refreshed for the first time in weeks and decide I’m going to continue with this lazy, relaxed trend the rest of the day. A nano second later my brain catches on to my plan and responds with maniacal laughter.
The list of things I need to do that day – laundry, clean the floors, wash the car, buy groceries – begins to cycle through my head. As a distraction, I roll over and grab my phone. I message my best friend and check out my other notifications. I smile as I come across the bright, orange and white app on my phone with the label “grocery” underneath it.
There’s one chore I won’t have to worry about today. That’s because with a few taps, my grocery shopping will be done.
I remember the day I found out I could shop for my groceries online from either Smith’s or Walmart, drive to the store, park, have the groceries loaded up, and drive home without setting one foot inside the store. It was June 13 and I happily proclaimed to all of Facebook that it was “the best day of my life.” I was only half joking.
I hate grocery shopping. Loathe it. I try to strategically plan my outings at odd times to avoid the crowded parking lot with people walking as if they have all day and the dirty carts with who knows how many germs and the long lines. Even then, it just always seems like such an inconvenience. Every time I’m there I think there are so many things I could be doing right now instead of standing here trying to find the best bananas.
So when I learned I could mostly eliminate one of my most hated chores from my life, I was more than willing to give it a try.
Walmart started offering online grocery shopping in the Albuquerque area this past winter. Tiffany Wilson, director of communications for Walmart, said in a phone interview from California, that there are currently four stores in the Albuquerque area offering the service. Three of those are super stores and the other is a Neighborhood Market, which is the company’s smaller, grocery-only version of a store.
“It’s been well received because it’s a matter of convenience,” Wilson said. “You can get your groceries without even having to unbuckle your seat belt.”
Smith’s started in January and has three locations using ClickList, the store’s online grocery service. Both companies have plans to add more locations and even eventually have the groceries delivered. Marsha Gilford, Smith’s vice president of public affairs, said Smith’s will add more stores in Albuquerque and expand to places like Farmington, Santa Fe and Los Alamos. Walmart does not charge extra for the service while Smith’s has a $4.95 fee per order.
“People have called it life changing,” Gilford said. “You have people with kids, people who are sick and people caring for elderly parents and now they can use this.”
To use the online service with either store, customers must create an account. Once the account is created, shoppers can use the search bar to find their grocery items. During checkout, shoppers reserve a pick-up time that is usually the next day. Shoppers head to the store during their designated one-hour pick-up window. Once there, they park in a designated area. Smith’s customers must call the store when they arrive but Walmart associates can track customers arrival. An associate then brings out the order and loads into the vehicle.
I placed my first order and scheduled it for pick-up the next day on my way home from work. I immediately texted my 20-year-old son about this new, marvelous thing.
He wasn’t impressed.
“Omg. We’re gonna be too lazy.”
I wasn’t impressed with his lack of being impressed. Did he not understand how much better my life was going to be?
Anyway, about 20 minutes before my pick-up window I got an email saying my order was ready. I let out a little screech, jumped up and down, checked in, ran to the door and hopped in my car. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I saw the bright orange door and signs on the side of the building. As soon as I parked, the door popped open and the most cheerful, nice young man came out and approached my car.
“Are you Elaine?”
“Is this your first time using this service?”
“Well welcome. I hope you enjoy it. I’m going to get your order and I’ll be right back.”
While I was waiting two other vehicles pulled up, one was a minivan with a woman and two small children.
When he came back, I got out of my car to help him load the groceries into the trunk. He told me I didn’t need to help him and he wanted me to wait in the comfort of my car with the air conditioner running. At this point I’ll admit I was feeling a tad bit guilty. Was I ready to be served like this? I pushed those feelings aside and decided, Yes, yes I am. He came over after loading my groceries and gave me a gift bag of goodies that included gum and some drinks. He asked me to call if I had any problems or was unsatisfied in anyway and then told me to have a great day.
Pat Di Vasto, a principal of an elementary school in Rio Rancho, had a similar customer service experience when she first using the service this past winter, which is smack dab in the middle of the school year.
“I work ungodly hours,” she said. “So I have to go to the grocery store on Saturdays. It’s no fun. They (workers) are always so kind. Being the new Yorker that I am, I try to slip them a tip. They won’t take it.”
Catherine Walton, who serves on the Rio Rancho school board and works as a real estate broker, said the service makes her life easier. She uses the Walmart site at least once a week. She said in addition to the convenience, online grocery shopping has helped her save money.
“The last thing I want to do is spend an hour or two at Walmart on a weekend,” she said. “If I go into the grocery story, I buy what I don’t need. My bill has gone from about $175 a week to $110.”
I’m not going to lie, after my first experience, I smiled all the way home. I couldn’t believe how easy that was and that man was just so dang nice.
So I knew when I woke up Sunday morning I was going to give this another try although I couldn’t talk myself into being lazy all day. I was cleaning our hardwood floors in the living room when my son remembered something else he needed.
“I need Moco de Gorila,” he said.
I hand him my phone. He does a search and in less than a minute we have now purchased hair gel. Before he’s even done, I’ve turned my attention back to the cleaning the floor.
Now if only there was an app for that.