On Capitol Hill where Amazon code bros have “ruined our gayborhood,” the local co-operative grocery store will now give busy shoppers an alternative to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant’s popular AmazonFresh service.
“We are excited to be partnering with Instacart to offer delivery service to the Seattle area,” manager Wesley Barga of Central Co-op said in a press release from the app-driven shopping service. “We chose Instacart as a partner because its system is really user-friendly, and the company has a great team of people. We are thrilled that we can now make our unique product offering available to even more people every day.”
The service includes one-hour delivery from the Capitol Hill co-op to most of Seattle. Instacart costs $99 per year or non-member customers can pay $5.99 per order for one hour delivery (for orders of more than $35), or $3.99 for two hour delivery. Jeff Bezos charges shoppers $299 a year to use his grocery delivery service.
But before you kick Seattle’s favorite libertarian titan of industry to the curb, consider the Instacart “shopper.”
The company, like so many in the wave of app-driven, meat-space service companies, depends on a fuzzy cloud of contracting shoppers who are paid to pick up the items you order from store shelves. The company already puts its shoppers to work inside “popular national chains” like Whole Foods Market, Costco, and Petco and “local, regional grocers” like Fairway Market, Bi-Rite, and Plum Market. Shoppers must have a “recent smartphone,” be “at least 21 years old,” and be “able to lift 30-40 lbs.” You can sign up here if you’re interested. The labor practices are controversial and, especially with the largest like Uber, continue to face legal challenges.
We’ve asked Central Co-op which has been a progressive force in labor practices in the Seattle grocery industry to comment on the decision to work with the service and will update when we hear back. We expect even after Central Co-op customers and would-be customers do the ethical calculus, many will be happy to have the new connection to the E Madison store. Central Co-op, by the way, is a longtime CHS advertiser.
UPDATE 7/29/2015 10:15 AM: A Central Co-op spokesperson tells CHS the market will have its own employees do the “shopping” part of the Instacart process. “Already, our partnership with Instacart is helping us to serve more people from our brick and mortar store, and we believe it will ultimately lead to our being able to create more great jobs at Central Co-op,” the spokesperson writes. “We understand that Instacart’s labor practices are evolving in a promising direction and we are watching with interest to see what comes.”
Members of the cooperative will be able to “enter their owner-number when placing their delivery order through Instacart and their spending will be attributed to their account for the purpose of determining patronage dividends,” the announcement notes.
Meanwhile, the grocery environment on Capitol Hill seems to be a growth industry. This mystery 10,000 square-foot retailer being lined up for E Pike is a grocery store. By 2017, a Whole Foods Market is destined to rise at Broadway and Madison as part of a 16-story apartment development. And developers say a “Portland-based grocer” is in talks to become the anchor retail tenant in the development surrounding Capitol Hill Station.