At one time, grocery deliveries were common. Across the country, bicycle-riding kids earned their shiny nickels pedaling around town, dropping off milk and eggs. Seems quaint, doesn’t it? And now, as online grocery orders have taken off in recent years, it almost feels like what’s old is new again. Well, almost.
The latest to join the ranks is Walmart, which is debuting a test program called Walmart to Go in San Jose, CA. Residents can have groceries delivered to their door, with service charges starting at $5. (For more on this, hit up Sean Aune’s coverage.) If Walmart to Go succeeds here, you can bet other locations in its vast network of stores will follow.
To be honest, part of me is hoping this doesn’t succeed. That part of me is saying, “How lazy can people be? Can we really not be bothered to leave the house and get our own Chef Boyardee?” But another part of me remembers living in Manhattan, and how back-breaking it was to schlep heavy shopping bags over several blocks and up to my five-story walk-up. In those days, I was grateful for FreshDirect.com, a popular grocery delivery service in New York City, and I have to admit — delivery can be a godsend in expensive, high-volume urban areas like that, where having a car is simply not feasible for mere mortals.
But outside congested cities — in areas rife with strip malls, out-sized parking lots and vehicles galore, like most of America — is this even necessary? Well, okay — there’s something to be said for not having to shop alongside these people, no matter where you live, but it’s hard not to question the value of yet another service that encourages people to stay sequestered at home.
Years ago, grocery deliveries were once opportunities for young people to take action and earn honest wages. But today, it seems more indicative of a society hardwired for convenience, presenting like evidence of our lack of action. And that’s a little unnerving.
What others may find unsettling about this particular item is the prospect of lining the pockets of a company that allegedly has such a poor attitude toward women, as well as a tendency to leave a trail of bankrupt mom-and-pop shops everywhere it goes like a body count. I’m all for saving a buck, especially in these tough economic times — and I don’t judge people who need to focus on that — but I do wonder what it really winds up costing us.
I suppose it could be worse. At least the chain started selling fruit, vegetables and salads, in an effort to offer healthier options. Given how many people shop at Walmart, I actually see this as a good thing. But so is getting off your butt and leaving the house once in a while.
Have you ever used an online grocery delivery service? If Wal-Mart to Go was available in your area, would you use it?
[image via SavvySugar]