Living in New Orleans for the past 6 years has been, well, interesting to say the least. As someone who grew up in the Midwest (what’s up, Ohio!), and had lived in pretty much every region of the country EXCEPT the South, I don’t think I could have ever imagined just how unique and different a city could be. From the oppressive brink-of-hell temperatures, to the potholes that will swallow your car whole, to the local vernacular that almost seems like a foreign language at times, New Orleans is without a doubt one of the most magical — yet infuriating — places I’ve ever lived. If you’re thinking of visiting, let me know. If you’re thinking of MOVING here, REALLY let me know. I promise to give you an unbiased perspective and share the good…and the bad…of a place this girl never thought she’d call home.
One saying that has always made me scratch my head is, I’m “makin’ groceries”. Come again? Did you mean you’re COOKING? Are you making something you just BOUGHT at the store? But really. WTF. To clear up the confusion (because I expect most of you are ALSO scratching your heads right now), what this ridiculous phrase is referring to is the commonly performed activity known as “going to the grocery store” or “going grocery shopping”.
So why do New Orleanians insist on passing this absurdity down from generation to generation, confusing anyone that didn’t grow up here? I think locals genuinely just like to preserve strange customs like this one to — stealing a tagline out of Austin, TX’s book — keep New Orleans weird. People in New Orleans embrace being different, even if it makes them sound incredibly silly. But just in case you were curious, the origin of the phrase isn’t totally rooted in nonsense. It comes from the French phrase “faire son marché,” which means “to do one’s market shopping”. Apparently, faire translates into either “to do” or “to make”. So as the French learned English it morphed from “to do one’s market shopping” to “to do one’s grocery shopping” to “make one’s groceries” to “makin’ groceries”. Thank you, Quora.
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I have to let you guys know that grocery shopping is literally one of my favorite things to do in the entire world. I can’t really explain it, but there’s just something incredibly peaceful about strolling up and down all the food-filled aisles and filling my cart with so much deliciousness. So while hitting up Trader Joe’s at 11 am on a Saturday seems about as far from “peaceful” as life can get, I willingly throw myself into that chaos every single weekend and love every minute of it. Well, except the parking lot sitch. For the love of God can Trader Joe’s PLEASE figure this shit out. But truly — I feel so fortunate to have access to so many affordable, fresh grocery options, that I really can’t complain.
Outside of my love affair with Trader Joe’s (a tribute for another day), Whole Foods has always been my next go-to when it comes to stocking my fridge. Despite it’s “whole paycheck” reputation, I decided long ago that I was ok with paying ~10-15% more for groceries in order to eat more organic, less-processed food. Then came Amazon. The behemoth that seems to be swallowing up everything in its path. On the off chance you completely missed this news, Amazon bought Whole Foods in August 2017 and has slowly been making its presence known inside every WF store. Example: one of our local WF stores has Amazon lockers in it, and also sells Amazon Echo devices). That’s all fine and dandy, but I think what most of us were HOPING for when we saw this news was LOWER PRICES. Amirite or amirite?! In the year since the acquisition, I can’t say I’ve personally seen a ton of incredible discounts or permanent price drops (cue the avocado jokes), but recently WF has introduced a nifty little change to its mobile app (yes, WF has a mobile app) that aims to make Amazon Prime members feel like they’re getting a little somethin’ special. And fill non-Amazon Prime members (whoever these unicorns are) with FOMO.
To be clear, the Whole Foods app has always had coupons in it. I had the app, but I never bothered to look at said coupons so the app never got used. The latest version of the app improves on this a bit because it utilizes one QR code at checkout that covers those same coupons on individual items, gives you an additional 10% off all sale items, and covers any other weekly discounts WF might be offering.
Accessing the QR code that will give you the deals is pretty straightforward. Download and open the Whole Foods app, log into your Amazon Prime account, and then everytime you open the WF app you’re immediately presented with that QR Code and you can have the cashier scan it during checkout. Honestly, none of the discounts have been mind-blowing, but every penny counts. Especially when a jar of almond butter costs 1,500 of them.
I don’t love this process, but I don’t hate it. And even though QR codes seem very 2010, I’m not sure how Amazon could this better. When the new feature launched, the cashiers seemed to be good about asking you if you were an Amazon Prime customer and if had the WF app, and then showing you how to use it. And the stores do have some signage in the check-out lanes. But let’s be honest — most of the time when I’m in line I’m either on my phone or eyeing the person in front of me’s items to see what weird stuff they bought. As a result, a couple of times when I’ve been distracted/in a hurry I’ve forgotten to have the cashier scan my QR code. Maybe eventually they’ll come up with a different integration that doesn’t put the onus on the customer to remember to open up the app. Maybe they’ll just scan our eyeballs #dreambig. But, as long as it’s not too difficult to use and the novelty doesn’t wear off, I think it’s an app I’ll continue to keep on my phone.
Before you moan and groan about having to deal with ANOTHER app. If you’re like a lot of people I know and adding just ONE MORE APP to your phone is a MAJOR ordeal, you can actually access the same QR code from the Amazon mobile app as well. If you don’t have THAT app on your phone, then you’re missing out on many opportunities to impulse shop while pretending to watch Netflix with your husband/wife/roommate/significant other (sorry, C!), and I can’t help you. You’ll need one or the other to take advantage of the Amazon/Whole Foods deals, so suck it up and download at least one of them. And while I’m a hoarder of iPhone apps and my attitude is “the more (apps) the merrier,” if I had to choose, I would go with the Amazon app (because of the aforementioned shopping opportunities).
It will be interesting to see the long-term effect of the Whole Foods + Amazon deal. At least for now, I don’t think Amazon has impacted WF’s prices enough for it to shed it’s infamous “whole paycheck” nickname. And if quality suffers and WF loses its caché as a premium grocer, then they could lose my business in the future.
One last thing I’ll say about the Whole Foods is that they are now offering one-hour grocery delivery to Amazon Prime customers in New Orleans. I haven’t tried it yet, but I might test it out soon. Because, why not. Have any of you used it (here or in other cities)? If you have, I’d be curious to hear your feedback! I know at-home grocery delivery is nothing new to people living in more urban environments, but the shift to buying groceries online is fascinating to me. Partly because (as I mentioned) I love going to the grocery store. But also because buying food seems like such an “in-person” activity. Especially when it comes to things like produce, meat, or fish. I am VERY picky about which apple or filet of fish I choose — so how can I possibly trust some random store employee to take the same care when choosing my items? I guess time will tell. And speaking of online grocery shopping, in a sort of Part II to the tech + grocery shopping topic, I’ll share my thoughts on Thrive Market — which is a membership-based online food retailer that sells natural and organic products at reduced costs. I’ve been a member for about two years and I really enjoy many of their private label offerings. You may have seen them advertising pretty heavily on social media these days. They have an army of “influencers” pushing their brand all over Instagram — and no, I am not one of them. So I’ll tell you a little bit more about it, share what I like and dislike, and tell you whether I recommend giving it a shot!
Until then — don’t get run down in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, make sure you use your app the next time you check out at Whole Foods!