Parking lot signs guide customers to pick up spots.

Parking lot signs guide customers to pick up spots.

Grocery shopping in Milton just got a whole lot more convenient.

    On November 9, the town’s Hannaford Supermarket gained a new to-go option, letting residents order groceries from the comfort of their living room couch.

“We’ve gotten very positive feedback, and we’re really excited about it,” Milton’s Hannaford To Go assistant manager Scott Bassett said.

Hannaford To Go now has 41 New England locations, five of which are in Vermont. For an extra $5, the feature allows shoppers to create an account on the store’s website, choose desired products and allocate a pick-up time between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Upon arrival, a customer parks out front, calls the store and then employees bring out the groceries and pack the car. It takes all of five minutes, Bassett said.

“We’re there for convenience,” he added. “New parents are trying it out who have a lot of kids at home. I know as a parent myself, it’s hard to sometimes get your kids out of the car, try to get them to behave through the entirety of the store and have them not screaming at check out.”

Elderly folks who can’t sustain a long outing, as well as injured or disabled people who can’t perform heavy lifting, are among those who benefit from the new feature, Bassett said. 

Online ordering is key for Milton mother Kylie Castrucci, who has a 5-month-old daughter.

“In the earlier days, it was insane to have to go grocery shopping with her,” Castrucci said. “She wouldn’t last 45 minutes without meltdowns.”

A trip to the store often taking two hours, it wasn’t feasible to take her little one, Addelyn Viens, along for the ride. So, she took her grocery list to the web and began ordering from the Essex Hannaford To Go.

o Go assistant manager Scott Bassett, left, and coworkers Anthony Modugno and Allycia Thibault

Milton Hannaford To Go assistant manager Scott Bassett, left, and coworkers Anthony Modugno and Allycia Thibault are pictured earlier this month where all to-go orders are processed

The 25-minute drive was worth it, Castrucci said, noting she was still saving time. Now that her usual grocery list is saved to her account, she doesn’t have to change much from week to week. It takes her three minutes to make her order, she said.

Now that her drive to Hannaford is 20 minutes quicker, she’s saving even more time, she noted.

“I do a lot of my meal planning online, such as looking up recipes,” Castrucci added. “It’s nice to be able to do that simultaneously while grocery shopping.”

The Milton mom was so excited the to-go option popped up in Milton that she took to the Milton VT Facebook group to share the good news.

“This new mom is beyond pumped to not have to bring my infant grocery shopping!” she wrote, indicating she was “feeling thankful.” Garnering over 60 reactions, Miltonians began tagging fellow Milton parents to spread the word.

According to Bassett, all Hannaford goods are available for pick-up except gift cards and magazines.

Once an order is confirmed, Hannaford employees trained for the system grab a cart and make their way around the store to select the correct foods, brands and amounts. And they’re trained to pick the best quality meat available, Bassett added.

Customers can also write notes online about desired cold-cut thickness and so forth.

“We make sure we get exactly what the customer wants,” Bassett said.

In its first week, the program saw 100 customers. At the Essex store, where Bassett previously worked, the average weekly customer list hit 300.

Bassett looks at it like this: “What’s your time really worth?”

Bassett said he expects Milton will near the 300-mark after this holiday season. Plus, in the busy few months ahead, he said people may use the to-go option in preparation for large family gatherings. 

The “line-skipper” is a good alternative to fighting the holiday zoo that often infiltrates the store, he added. Plus, there’s no $5 fee for first-time customers, and a number of coupon incentives are awarded within the first few weeks. 

“Let me fight the customers so you don’t have to,” he said.