By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – A locally owned, independent grocer is allowing customers to get their weekly groceries without ever stepping foot inside the store.
Earlier this year, Best Buy Market at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Giddings Street, became one of the first grocery stores on the West Coast to partner with Rosie, a grocery shopping app, to offer curbside pickup of their order. Customers sign up for the “Best Buy Market Express” service by clicking a link on Best Buy Market’s web site or downloading the Rosie app to their phone. Once the order is placed, a personal shopper at each store hands selects items for freshness and then scans in the items. The order is then bagged and prepped for loading into your vehicle at two designated parking stalls near the front entrance to the store. There is a $4.99 fee for curbside pickup. The service is available at Best Buy Market locations in Visalia, Hanford and Lemoore.
“We are trying to stay on top of any technology that will help us and we are already active on social media,” said Brian Jones, general manager for Best Buy Market. “We knew this step was coming and we were waiting for the right opportunity to get it started.”
Shelby Saldivar, the personal shopper for the Visalia store, said the busiest days for curbside pickup are Wednesday, when the Best Buy Markets circulars publish, and Monday, because the market doesn’t offer the service on the weekends. Curbside pickup times are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Store hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Owner Skip Nugent said about 500 customers between the store’s three locations have signed up since the service launched on Feb. 1, 2018. Nugent said Best Buy Market, a member of the Independent Grocers Association, had been to many seminars and conferences over the last few years where e-commerce was emerging as a new market for grocers. When Nugent decided to take the next step, he contacted Rosie because they were a preferred partner of one of their wholesalers.
“It’s a pretty simple program,” said Nugent. “We know ecommerce will continue to be a greater part of every business so it made sense for us.”
Jones said setting up the app was a learning process for both Best Buy Market and Rosie. He said they had to enter every item and code the store offers for food and household goods into the app and the app developers had to change things to fit California’s unique regulations.
“Rosie does a lot of business in the Midwest and back East but in California we have some unique things,” Jones said. “They had to learn how to do alcohol sales differently and CRV [California Redemption Value] recycling is a much more important issue here than anywhere else.”
The move signaled a new era for the store and for Nugent and Jones. Both men started as bottle boys, who used to check in glass bottles being recycled and then stock them for pickup prior to being reused by the suppliers. Nugent, who will turn 62 this month, has been in the grocery business for over 40 years since he was 12 years old. He became just the fourth owner of the grocery group in 1999.
Jones has been in the grocery business since 1982. He said the Visalia store was the first of the three stores when it was built in 1963. He said the store has a strong following in Visalia, and is known for carrying quality meats and being the “local guys” of grocery stores. They even have one customer, who says his father-in-law worked on constructing the building when there was nothing but agriculture land in southeastern Visalia.
“We have very loyal customers,” Jones said. “I think that says a lot about our customer service and the quality of our products.”
As an owner, Nugent has kept the store involved in the community and local causes. This will be the store’s 16th year of Happy Hearts, a fundraiser for Valley Children’s Hospital. Each May, the store hosts a party and raises money for the children’s hospital in memory of Nugent’s daughter Heather, who passed away in 2002 just before her 18th birthday surrounded by family at Valley Children’s Hospital. She was critically injured in a car accident, but Nugent never forgot how hard the staff there worked to save his daughter’s life.
Best Buy Market in Visalia is located at 1300 W. Walnut Ave. For more information on curbside pickup, visit www.bestbuymarkets.com or call 559-732-7981.