ESSAY- Bring it on: Grocery delivery's time has come

If you can bear to watch a woman with Attention Deficit Disorder reduced to a babbling, twitchy wreck, come with me as I schlep through the supermarket, attempting to keep track of grocery orders for two households: mine and my mother's.  

Surely, there's an intelligent way to accomplish this, but I've yet to discover it. (And call me stubborn, but I refuse to hike through the store twice, endure the checkout line twice, and hoist bags into my car twice.)

I make my way slowly through the supermarket, mumbling and swearing every time I have to backtrack, while trying to maintain two separate heaps of items in one shopping cart. (And where's that scrap of paper with Mum's list on it? I had it in my hand just a second ago.) 

At the checkout, I invariably mix up the orders and direct the wrong items toward the wrong bags. As I drag myself to the finish line, I write a check for my own groceries using my mother's checkbook. I discover the error as I'm handing the check to the clerk, rip it up and start over.  

People in line behind me drift off in search of a speedier checkout experience.

On my last outing, I thought I was doing well until I realized I'd left my husband's must-have soy milk on my mother's kitchen counter, then arrived home to discover the can of Chock Full O' Nuts coffee my mother was desperate for at the bottom of my bag.  

Why, oh why, is there not a single market in Charlottesville that will deliver groceries to my mother's apartment? When Mum lived in the little town of Agawam, Massachusetts, the local supermarket offered home delivery for a surcharge of about $10. You could call them up, or order online.  

That New England market uses the Internet turnkey service,, to maintain its database of both non-perishable and perishable items. I would hold the phone in one hand as my mother dictated her shopping list, and with the other hand I'd be navigating and clicking her selections at the store's website. That's the kind of multitasking I can handle.

When a store uses for its software and database, a customer can click on an item– say, "strawberries"– and then be given an opportunity to type in additional instructions. Perhaps "check the bottom of that little green plastic basket and make sure there are no moldy ones down there," or indicate a second choice if the first isn't available.

As I load the bags (plastic for Mum, paper for me) into my car, I fantasize about my favorite local markets such as Foods of All Nations, Reid's, and Integral Yoga pairing up with a service such as MyWebGrocer so that I can let my mouse do the walking (or scurrying) through virtual aisles.

I suppose the chain stores could do this, if the big boss in the Netherlands (where Giant Food is based) or wherever, can be talked into extending home delivery service to our little burg.  

The thing is, whenever Charlottesville is featured in some newspaper or magazine, the author notes that one element of our charm is the proliferation of boutiques. So why not make locally owned markets part of our boutiquey allure? Home delivery would call attention to these small businesses, attracting more customers to their bricks-and-mortar selves.

A few weeks ago, I was reading the Hook article about prospective nine-story buildings on the Downtown Mall and thinking about the people who have already bought condos in the Holsinger Building– most of whom are out-of-town jaspers who paid a million bucks to live behind the Cat House. Mr. or Ms. Muchbucks will surely be looking for services such as grocery delivery to make their complicated lives easier. 

And if these potential customers are stacked up like cordwood– nine deep along the Downtown Mall– home delivery would be a cost-effective service for local markets to offer. 

I'm certain that there are oodles of time-starved Charlottesvillians, plus a great many elderly and disabled, who would embrace any market that would offer home delivery.  

There's definitely one scatterbrained woman (the one who's holding a shopping list between her teeth while rooting desperately through the pockets of her jeans for the other list) who would happily pay for such a service.