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September 9, 2010

Let us now praise Relay Foods — Episode 1: The quest


For many years now, ever since Webvan and its ilk crashed and burned in the dot-com implosion of 2001, I've wished that there were some way I could shop online for groceries and have them delivered to my house.

Sure, Peapod's still in business, albeit in a limited number of venues, but who knows if and when they'll ever make it to my Podunk town.

Which is yet another problem, namely that little cities like mine will be the last to be part of any delivery network.

Last year I noted with some excitement that Harris Teeter in Charlottesville had begun offering Express Lane — online shopping/ordering/at store pickup at a time of your choice — where you drive to the store and without getting out of your car have a guy load your prepaid (online) groceries into your car and then drive home.

That's great — except the only Harris Teeter in Charlottesville that offers it is way far away from my house.

So I resigned myself to the dreary chore of grocery shopping for the foreseeable future.

Until one day last month when I saw online some story about a new company in Charlottesville called Relay Foods which offered online shopping and grocery pickup at specified locations around town — and home delivery.

I checked my enthusiasm, waiting to come to the catch, i.e., that I was outside the delivery area (even though I live only about two miles from a very busy part of town, my subdivision still doesn't have a gas line because it's considered too rural and not populated densely enough).

I took a look at the company's website, which promised even more than I could've imagined: they've collated the offerings of over 50 stores (top), including Whole Foods and some of Charlottesville's best specialty markets along with a whole host of small farms and producers.

Can this really be, I said to myself?

The rest of the story will appear at this time tomorrow.

Preview: it has a happy ending.

September 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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