Grocery stores circling back to home delivery

Becky Campbell • Mar 16, 2019 at 8:37 PM

There’s an adage that all things come full circle, and grocery shopping is well on its way down that path.

A number of smaller mom-and-pop-type grocery stores operate in Johnson City as well as big chain stores, and for the last several years there’s been a promise of a new chain — Publix — locating in Johnson City. Those plans are apparently still in the works, but no work has started.

Decades ago, those mom and pop stores had a service that all but disappeared as bigger stores came into existence. That was a grocery store and delivery service.

Johnson City Press columnist and historian Bob Cox recently recalled his memories of Ford Wilson Grocery Store, located at 200 Elm St., in the mid-1940s. The owner filled orders and made grocery deliveries on his bicycle. 

Another grocer from that era, Paul Good, had a roving grocery store. He drove to rural communities in a truck stocked with canned food, seed, kerosene and household goods.

These days, grocery store chains and big box stores have a similar service that has skyrocketed in popularity — curbside shopping.

Food City, Kroger and Walmart all offer curbside grocery pickup. Other stores are getting in on the service as well, with Target recently joining those ranks.

As of now, the service has not expanded into a regular delivery service, but there is one business that still provides that. Schwan’s has offered fresh frozen grocery delivery since 1952. It’s not uncommon to see a Schwan’s truck in and around Johnson City making deliveries on a regular basis.

Last August, Kroger announced its newest shopping service called Kroger Ship. Customers shop online and can have the groceries delivered to their door. The service was launched in four large market areas — Cincinnati; Houston; Louisville, Ky.; and Nashville — and is free for orders over $35, with a $4.99 charge for smaller orders.

Depending on how well the service takes hold will determine on how quickly it expands to other markets.







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