Why Would Anyone Want to Live in a World Where Online Grocery Shopping Rules? 

I have a neighbor who gets his groceries delivered by AmazonFresh every week, and what confuses me more than the fact that, week after week, he lets the insulated grocery bags sit on his stoop — in plain view, just begging to be stolen by a hungry passerby — for hours, is the fact that he doesn’t go to the store to buy his food.

For me, my weekly grocery-shopping session is like therapy: whether I go to Whole Foods or Greensgrow’s farm stand or Trader Joe’s or Acme, in that hour-or-so of time, all that matters is which variety of hummus I want — so many options! — and which bunch of spinach looks like it will actually last through Thursday, and whether or not I’m going to treat myself to an overpriced kombucha that week. Generally, the biggest, most upsetting problem that I’m faced with during hour is the discovery that there are no ripe avocados available. It’s wonderful. I would never want to give that weekly, blissful, problem-free hour up. Which is why a recent article on Bloomberg nearly caused me break down into tears.

The article, titled “How Amazon Will Kill Your Local Grocer,” talked about Amazon’s aim to take over grocery shopping, like it did bookstores, and electronic stores and, you know, basically everything else. (Though Philly’s independent bookstore culture beats on! Take that, Amazon.) In it, the author says, “Though traditional grocers are not likely to see sales migrate to Amazon right away, that luxury won’t last. And just like bookstores, your local grocer could be toast.” Nooooo!

And it’s not just Amazon paving the path to make brick-and-mortar grocery stores — where you can touch and feel your avocados for yourself! — obsolete. There’s Peapod, helmed by Giant, Thrive Market, FreshDirect, and more. Pair those with options like Instacart, where someone does your grocery shopping for you, and you really don’t need to step foot into a grocery store ever again. But explain to me, because I don’t get it: Why would anyone want that?

I understand that occasionally life gets in the way and you are just too busy to get to the grocery store. Fine. And I’m sure for parents with newborns, or for someone who’s sick, for whom the thought of leaving the house is enough to induce tears, these services are lifesavers. But would anyone want to live in a world where brick-and-mortar grocery stores go the way of Barnes and Noble, another land that, for some, served very much as a retail-therapy combo?

I wouldn’t — even if Trader Joe’s never manages to get its out-of-control line situation under control. But it seems my neighbor down the street might not care one way or the other. And my work wife, who tried FreshDirect for the first time three months ago and hasn’t set foot in a grocery store since, probably wouldn’t even notice. And, I don’t know, maybe I’m alone in my weird love for grocery shopping — in an actual grocery store. (Though the response to everything we’ve ever written about Wegmans would suggest otherwise.) All I know is, I don’t want to live in a world where online grocery shopping rules. Do you?

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