It’s 7:00 on Saturday morning and I’m waiting in a chilly, dark apartment for my groceries to be delivered sometime in the next two hours. On one hand, it is a bit ridiculous, but on the other hand, it is incredibly convenient.
I think I’m moderately fussy about what I choose at the grocery store – I look things over, but I don’t agonize over finding the perfect piece of fruit. So, the fact that someone is, at this very moment, selecting a few apples and broccoli for me actually gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s not that I can’t go to the store myself, but a) I don’t have a car, so lugging supplies home is not the easiest thing in the world, and b) I have other things I have to do today and this is one task that I can delegate.
Similarly, I have a lot of non-perishable things delivered. When I first moved into my apartment, I had more “stuff” so couldn’t really buy in bulk. Over time, I have weeded out my belongings and have added more and better storage options. Both parts of this equation are important. I’ve already mentioned getting rid of things (clearing out and letting go), but it bears repeating – we probably all have things we can donate, re-home, recycle or throw away.
The storage component, though, is equally important. I have a closet that is 4-feet wide x 2-feet deep and initially had a rod for coats, etc. I traded in the rod for a heavy-duty shelving unit that fits perfectly (I had to assemble it inside the closet!) and holds an amazing amount of stuff. I could store 24 rolls of toilet paper if I want! It’s like the shelving was made specifically for this closet – even the top shelf is at the perfect height for me to slide taller, thin items into the space – tower fans, tower space heaters and luggage now live on the top shelf. Mom and I call it the magic closet, because whatever we are looking for can probably be found there. The rack was a life-changing purchase.
Delivery these days is incredibly convenient – there are monthly subscription plans, delivery of perishable food at a specifically designated time and availability of products of all shapes and sizes. Between work, taking care of my mother and other obligations, I have found the convenience to be a real blessing. It reduces my stress level. I can order groceries while on the bus and then have them delivered the next morning. I can order my mother’s incontinence pads in bulk so we don’t run out at an inopportune time. I can set up a regular delivery schedule so that I don’t even have to think about it any more.
Of course, all this convenience comes at a price. I have always shopped locally – especially at my neighborhood stores that are within walking distance. I still do shop locally for a few things, but not as often and for smaller quantities. The more people who shift to using delivery services, the harder it is for small, local businesses to stay in business. My parents ran a small grocery story and then my mother ran a children’s clothing store. I understand the trade-offs. My parent’s grocery store closed when supermarkets came to town and Mom’s store closed when a big chain store moved in nearby. Though I tout the convenience of having things dropped on my doorstep, it weighs heavily on my mind that I am no longer using my neighborhood stores as often as I did in the past. Local businesses help to create a community. As I work out how to re-balance my life in the face of recent changes, I need to remember to look for opportunities to adjust my purchasing patterns to support the community … particularly, my neighbors.