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COLUMN — I ordered groceries online, here’s how it went

Before the pandemic, grocery shopping was one of my favorite stress relievers. I could spend hours going down every aisle, planning out dinner or just perusing.

Nowadays, grocery shopping is a stressful chore done once every few weeks as quickly as possible in order to avoid crowds in the midst of a global pandemic.

When I heard Farmville’s Walmart was beginning to offer online ordering and curbside pickup, I decided to try it out for myself and then share my findings with readers. In other words, Walmart online ordering is like the newest restaurant in town and I am your snooty local food critic ready to pick apart the main dish.

One of the things I miss most about pre-pandemic grocery trips is the ability to casually wander through the store looking at new items to try without thinking about how many feet away the other customers are and how I really should be hurrying to get the necessities and get out. With online shopping at Walmart, I was able to peruse through pages of exactly what my local Walmart had in stock, from bakery items to beauty products. There was no pressure to go quickly. It was just me and my wandering attention.

Last week I moved into a new house, so there were many things I needed on my list besides groceries. I decided to really test the online ordering by purchasing a variety of items including fruits, meats and vegetables, cleaning products, cosmetics, and a requirement for every household — a fire extinguisher.

I completed my order Monday afternoon and was informed there were no pickup time slots available for that day, so I decided to arrange for a pickup time of 3-4 p.m. Tuesday. The next day I was informed my order was ready at 3 p.m., and I was at the store in a designated pickup spot by 3:10 p.m.

Pickup went semi-smoothly. There were between three and five employees working the pickup station. I was instructed to wear a mask and stay in my car while workers loaded my groceries, although I was disappointed three of the four workers I interacted with were not wearing their masks correctly, including two that had the masks pulled down and uncovering their mouth and nose while talking to me at my rolled-down window.

I had to wait about 35 minutes before the groceries were brought out and loaded. Of the 34 items I ordered, only three had to be substituted. My Daisy sour cream was replaced with a larger size for the same price, and my four sticks of butter were replaced with eight half sticks. No problems there.

I ended up ordering some makeup, which I knew was going to be the trickiest item. I ordered some foundation in the color 415, “Rose Ivory,” and ended up with the color 425, “Linen.” Luckily, I’ve discovered Linen seems to be my “summer color,” so it all worked out fine.

Overall, I was not disappointed by the local Walmart’s online ordering, although I’d be hesitant to order again after having to interact with employees not wearing a mask properly. One has to sympathize with them, though, as it was quite hot out Tuesday afternoon. And besides, a trip inside any local grocery store reveals most cashiers aren’t wearing the mask right indoors either. Tsk, tsk.

All in all, it’s up to you if the pros of online ordering outweigh the cons enough for you to give it a try. Maybe if you’re lucky you will accidentally stumble upon a better match for your foundation. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Food Lion will begin offering online ordering. If it does, rest assured this “food critic” will be back to tell you all about it. 

Alexa Massey is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@FarmvilleHerald.com.