My ‘Hannaford To Go’ experience selfie video
MANCHESTER, NH – It’s noon on Sunday, and the Philadelphia Eagles are playing at 4:25 p.m., followed by the New England Patriots at 8:30 p.m. I’m a full 24-hours behind in my “clean the house weekend” festivities. My wild blueberry English Muffin bread is taking twice as long to rise as it was supposed to, thanks the winter chill.
Plus, I need a few things from the grocery store, but I know the round trip, plus in-store shopping time, will completely foil my house-cleaning game plan.
If there were a better time to test out Hannaford supermarket’s new Hannaford To Go service, I don’t know when that will be, so I take the plunge.
Unfortunately, the service isn’t offered at either of the two Manchester stores closest to home. But fortunately for me, it’s available 4.7 miles away, at the Goffstown store on Mast Road, just over the border.
I sign up for an online account at hannaford.com in no-time flat, and begin exploring the shop-from-home menu. Looks easy enough.
So, I start searching for the things I need for game day chow, and other things that I know I’m low on or need stat.
My shopping habits over the years have been modified by lifestyle. I never do weekly shopping anymore – largely because now that our kids have grown and flown, it’s just the two of us. I find that occasional trips on my way to or from someplace else are most efficient.
Grocery shopping to-go seems like a good fit for me – shaving a little more time off my already jam-packed days.
I’m excited to see how it all turns out.
Initially, I find the search function to be less than user-friendly. A search for frozen spinach populates a list of ready-made frozen spinach items. I try again, with just “spinach” and get closer. I’m looking for a 16-oz. bag of cut leaf spinach, and see everything but. Then I notice the 10-oz. boxes, and realize that four boxes at 89 cents each is a better deal than two bags of the 16-ounce at $1.39 each – plus, more spinachy goodness for my famous Eggs Florentine recipe, so I click the arrow to order four boxes, and continue with my wish list.
I begin to see the joy of price comparison shopping via my computer. I can make informed decisions based on what’s on sale at this moment, or which items I will buy based on brand loyalty.
I ask my husband if he has any requests.
“Hummus! That’s always good for snacking,” he says. So I search hummus and scroll down to find our favorite, the Taste of Inspiration everything hummus. We’ll need two of those to make it through today’s football games, and residual weeknight snacking.
And that leads my mind to pita chips – I have been buying the Keebler brand in a box, and find them easily, searching “Keebler pita.”
The biggest trip-up was eggs. I started with a simple search for eggs, and was overwhelmed with the egg-related items on my computer screen. I scrolled through the menu to the left to narrow my search, and clicked on “brown,” then I looked again, but still didn’t see my usual product: Nature’s Place large brown. So I went back to the search bar and spelled it out, and got the eggs I wanted.
This seemed a little tedious, to have to be so specific. However, one of the features of this service is that it’s supposed to save my preferences for future reference.
Because this is my first time trying the service, the $5 service fee is waived. I have to say that a $5 service fee wouldn’t deter me from using this service in the future – and, if you spend $125, the fee is automatically waived, so it’s a win-win.
And because I placed my order before 1 p.m. I can pick it up by 5 p.m., which is great timing. That leaves me four hours to bake my blueberry bread, process some laundry and purge the house of dust, dirt and junk mail.
With chores under my belt, I head out to the car and mark the time: 4:42 p.m. I take the highway and arrive promptly at 5 p.m., find my way to the “to go” drive through and announce my arrival. I’m told that my order is almost ready and to pull into parking spot 1.
Five minutes later someone comes out to the car to tell me it’s going to be a few more minutes as they pack up my order. Two more cars pull in to the neighboring parking slots, and I notice the store is buzzing with customers – lots of people stocking up for the Patriots game, I figure.
At 5:13, Andy Herbert comes out to let me know that there were a few substitutions – the special dark pretzels I ordered are out of stock, so it’s regular old Utz pretzels for me. No big deal.
But he also tells me there’s no old-fashioned oats, and I reject the quick cooking kind. Also, the jug of wine I specified is not available, either.
Fortunately, I’m stocked up, so I tell him to take that off the tab as well. He takes my credit card and tells me he’ll be right back with my groceries.
Hannaford To Go official promotional video
Groceries loaded and I’m heading home at 5:15 p.m. I make a pit stop at the Hess on Bridge Street, enticed by the $2.80 per gallon sign and my nearly-empty gas tank. To my delight, the gas on the pump is marked $2.79, so that’s a big score!
I pull into my driveway at 5:33 p.m. and haul my bags in, all in one trip – the paper “to-go” bags have handles. I notice my bags are marked with a sticker that reads #83 which leads me to believe 82 people before me ordered their groceries to go today, as well.
In the kitchen to unpack and inspect, and the first thing I notice is some unexpected swag – a complimentary travel mug and insulated lunch bag.
As I unpack the items, I am pleased; they are all just as ordered – and the apples are beautiful. I was worried that whoever selected them might not be as choosy about produce as I am.
By 6 p.m. the game-night chili was simmering and the brown bags were folded and nested and stashed.
All in all, I would rate the experience a success. I did have to wait 13 minutes once I arrived, but I didn’t have to get out of the car, which meant I had time to check my email and see how the Eagles were doing (not good, by the way).
I will also say that I am a loyal Hannaford shopper. I like the feel of the store, and I am a huge fan of their Muzak, which is often an old-school mix of my favorite R&B tunes from back in the day.
Andy told me Goffstown has been offering the service since July, and so far so good. He’s a dedicated “to-go” employee, which means he’s not divided between running a register or stocking shelves.
If this service were offered in Manchester, I’d definitely take advantage of it more often.
If you are Hannaford curious, I’d recommend you give it a try – the first-time saving of the $5 fee service fee makes it a no-risk adventure. I hope it becomes available at more stores soon.
Until then, you can have your own grocery-to-go experience at the Hannaford stores located in Concord, Dover Fields, Goffstown and Nashua.