Online grocers tender food and convenience to students

The grocers cater to the college population by offering delivery for a few bucks.

Jeannine Aquino

Lugging a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, some Easy Mac and other dorm staples home on a winter day is not most students’ idea of a good time.

With online grocery-delivery services, however, this might soon be a thing of the past. But what is considered convenient to some, might be seen as laziness to others.

Gopher Grocery is a new online-delivery service catering to the college crowd. Joining Simon Delivers, another online-grocery site, it offers students a variety of options ranging from frozen foods and dairy products to bathroom and laundry supplies.

“In college, there’s never a place to get groceries nearby,” said Billy Orkin, owner of Gopher Grocery. “It’s a major hassle. I thought there has to be a better way.”

At gophergrocery.com, students can choose any of about 500 available items. With a minimum purchase of $25 and a $2 delivery fee, Orkin said, Gopher Grocery can get students their purchases within one hour.

“I want to be like a pizza-delivery service for groceries,” Orkin said. “You order groceries, and it shows up in an hour.”

Orkin said Gopher Grocery is one of the few one-hour grocery delivery services in the nation.

However, Orkin’s service is not available to everyone on campus. The service area currently includes two ZIP codes: 55414 and 55455. Orkin said this is because he plans to keep his inventory small so he can deliver fresh products to customers.

SimonDelivers.com, on the other hand, services the entire metro area. It also has a 10,000-product inventory, said Steve Lauder, vice president of communications at Simon Delivers.

“Most everything you can find in a grocery store is available at Simon Delivers,” Lauder said.

The delivery charge at Simon Delivers is $6 on orders $80 and more, and $8.95 for orders less than $80, according to the company’s Web site.

Megan Brezicka, a food science sophomore, tried Gopher Grocery two weeks ago. She said she had a good experience and plans to use it again.

“I personally think for people who don’t have cars, it’s really beneficial,” Brezicka said. “By the time you go to the grocery store, using gas and using your time, that’s worth $2. The prices are about the same as a normal grocery story.”

Erica Delin, a biomedical engineering sophomore, said it would be nice if there were a campus grocery store available for students, but online services are convenient.

“Seeing as everything is done online anyway, like paying tuition, it’s even better (to buy groceries online) because you don’t have to go anywhere,” Delin said.

But first-year English and psychology student Karina Kuhrt said online grocery stores are “ridiculous.” She said people lose the experience of going to the grocery store and picking out their own food.

“It’s a change in the times. People aren’t necessarily lazy but just too busy to actually take the time (to actually go to a supermarket),” said Kuhrt, who added that she enjoys in-person grocery shopping too much to buy things online.

But Paul Schiller, an English and Italian senior, has a somewhat different take on the online-shopping phenomenon.

“I think people who are less lazy are more prone to (buy groceries online) because it frees them up to do other things,” he said.