Shopping the Express Lane

Since joining the ranks of mommy hood, I’ve had to learn how to do everyday things faster, one-handed and/or differently. Otherwise, I would never manage to shower, eat or get out the door. It’s like my own version of the Olympics. Instead of “faster, higher, stronger” my new motto is “faster, one-handed, holding baby.” My new status at least gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate how I do things, including my grocery shopping.

I already consider myself a highly successful online shopper for clothes and other merchandise. (I love Target’s Daily Deals, Etsy, and of course Amazon). Why wasn’t I getting my groceries online? Grocery delivery services like Peapod and their service fees are too much of a stretch for my budget. I had seen customers picking up their groceries at my beloved Harris Teeter, but thought that the surcharge would be too expensive, so I never investigated further.

Let’s talk about Harris Teeter, for a moment. Shane and I are obsessed with our grocery store. We will seriously talk anybody’s ear off about how much we love our grocery store of choice. I’ve only heard other people talk about Wegman’s the way Shane and I talk about Harris Teeter. (Apparently a Wegman’s will be opening close to home soon, and I’m pretty excited). Periodically, we will shop at another store to save money or because it’s a little bit closer to where we live and we always end up disappointed. Not only are we thrilled with the Teet’s (I’m sure we’re the only people who refer to it as such) produce, we loooove their meat counter. It’s always the meat that leaves something to be desired at other stores. I also can’t say enough for the genuine customer service we experience at Harris Teeter. I’ve never once had a negative experience with one of their employees in 3 1/2ish years of shopping there. I chalk it up to the company’s southern roots (they were founded in North Carolina) and hold their employees to a higher standard. Now that my Ode to Harris Teeter is off my chest, back to the express lane…

I get weekly emails from Harris Teeter letting me know which items I regularly buy are on sale that week. Several weeks ago, they mentioned that their Express Lane shopping was just $1.95 all summer long. I initially ignored it, but after a frustrating and difficult outing to Safeway with Tristan in tow, I thought it deserved a second look.

I honestly didn’t believe I could shop online and pick up my groceries for just $1.95, but after reading all the fine print, I thought it was worth a shot. Normally, the service fee is $4.95 each time and they even waive the fee for your initial Express Lane purchase, so I had nothing to lose. It took some time to search out the items I usually buy, but I was able to save them to a Favorites list on my account for quicker shopping next time. I placed my order and selected a time slot for pick up.

To get our groceries, all we had to do was pull our car in the Express Lane in front of the store. We gave our name and a few minutes later an employee arrived with a cart and loaded our groceries in the back of the car. They then swiped our credit card right there and we were on our way. The pick up was smooth considering the surprise thunderstorm and the screaming baby in the back seat. The only hiccup was once we were at home unloading the groceries, we realized we had somebody else’s bag in addition to our order. I called the store and they said to keep it since we already had it, so we acquired some bonus items.

We have since used the Express Lane service two more times and I absolutely love it! For me, nothing beats shopping online. The added bonus is I can see what’s on sale and plan my meals accordingly. I’m thinking this will help us stay on budget since we can be more deliberate when it comes to menu planning for the week (especially with child care costs coming our way soon!) I also love as a mother that I don’t even have to get out of the car. Outings just aren’t as simple as they used to be, and I don’t mind not having to soothe a fussy baby in the grocery store. Using Express Lane should give us more time together to have fun as a family instead of having to take care of one more errand to run – especially as I prepare to return to work.

To answer a couple questions I’m sure you have:
What if they’re out of stock of something you order?
You can provide directions for them to substitute something specific, allow them to generally substitute with a comparable item or to not substitute at all. In fact, the employee who fulfills your order calls you when it’s complete and let’s you know if they had to make any changes and ask what action you would like them to take.

Can you use coupons?
Yes. You simply bring your coupons for the items you purchased when you pick up your order. They then credit your account and apply that amount on your next order.

isn’t $4.95 per order a bit much for weekly shopping?
Yes, I think so too, although I’m very willing to pay for the convenience. Once the summer promotion price of $1.95 per order ends, I’m planning on signing up for their monthly plan: $9.95/month all-you-can-shop. That will allow me to keep the convenience without breaking the bank.

I’m very excited they are developing an app to allow you to shop and place your Express Lane orders from your phone or mobile device. That will certainly add to the convenience factor!

I highly recommend Harris Teeter and Express Lane Shopping to anyone lucky enough to live in the 8 states and District of Columbia with Harris Teeter.

I should note that these opinions are entirely my own, and I am not paid by Harris Teeter in anyway – I’m just a girl obsessed with her grocery store.

Anyone else with comparable grocery store obsessions? Anyone else competing in the new mom Olympics? Are you a new mom with a handy time-saving trick up your sleeve?


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