KENDALLVILLE — Gone are the days of taking a Saturday or Sunday drive to the store, shopping for an hour, loading everything into the trunk and feeling too tired to cook afterward.
With the rise of alternative grocery services, like pickup and online delivery, feeding the family is easier and gaining popularity with some in Kendallville and surrounding areas.
Admittedly, there are not as many services in Kendallville as there are in places like Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, mostly since there aren’t as many grocery stores.
In Kendallville, the app-based delivery service Instacart recently started service in the city, delivering both Kroger and CVS goods to homes.
Kendallville’s Walmart on S. R. 6 does not deliver, but it does offer free pickup service, where someone will do your shopping and then bring the bags out to your car when you pull up for pickup. The store unveiled that grocery service last fall shortly after it had rolled out a merchandise pickup service.
Chelsea Buwalda lives in Kendallville and has used both Instacart for grocery delivery and Walmart pickup.
“I initially tried Instacart, because I had sick kids at home and couldn’t get out to grocery shop,” Buwalda said. “Now I use Walmart pickup primarily, and it’s such a money and time saver.”
She made the switch from Instacart to Walmart pickup primarily because of the price.
“(Instacart has) a delivery and a service fee, and Walmart has no fees with their service,” Buwalda said.
Not only is grocery pickup saving Buwalda time by keeping her from browsing endlessly in a store, it also saves her money by only buying what she needs.
“I don’t browse and pick up random things not on my list,” Buwalda said.
Buwalda fits the description of a typical Instacart customer: 80% of them are women, and 50% of them are moms, according to the company’s corporate communications.
Though Instacart primarily operates in metro and suburban areas, it’s starting to see business increase in rural areas like Noble County.
“We can share that generally we’re finding that services like ours attract customers in the expected larger markets like San Francisco, New York and Chicago, but we’re also seeing a lot of customer demand in smaller markets,” corporate communications said.
Instacart first became available in Kendallville in October last year. It offers the convenience of not having to leave home at all, but also includes a delivery charge, service charge and tip to the driver.
Pickup services don’t have that additional cost, but require you to make a trip to the store, even if you don’t have to go in and push a cart around. That’s still convenient enough for many shoppers, though.
Jeff Zimmerman, a resident of Snow Lake in Steuben County, uses Walmart pickup often for the time it saves him.
“My wife is actually disabled, and I have a lot of stuff to do,” Zimmerman said. “I can spend 15 to 20 minutes on my computer picking out groceries and other items.”
Aside from saving time, Zimmerman sees the value of pickup in saving him from having to physically go into the store. He’s not someone who enjoys browsing.
“What you have on your list, you just tend to get that rather than picking up other things,” Zimmerman said. “I just tend to get what’s on our list.”
He also likes that Walmart employees put the groceries directly into his car and are courteous and fast.
“I think it’s great. I rate them five stars for that service,” Zimmerman said. “I think they’re very friendly.”
Other stores, like Meijer and Kroger, also offer pickup services, but they charge a monthly fee or another charge after using it for free a few times. Walmart pickup is always free, something Zimmerman said is a plus for him.