The evolution of grocery delivery

Submitted to FOX 17 News

More retailers continue to jump on the bandwagon, delivering groceries to your doorstep. But FOX 17 News' Erika Kurre shows us here in Nashville, grocery delivery started more than one hundred years ago with horse-drawn wagons.

This convenience is nothing new— and Kurre caught up with one family in West Meade who's experienced the evolution through the generations in a show-and-tell with pictures.

In his early 70's, Carl Johnson shuffles through copies of old family photos. One of them is of his father at 10 years old, on a horse-drawn cart, likely delivering sacks of flour.

"You can see the big bags in the back of it," Johnson explained.

The picture was taken in 1918 when Johnson's father worked for a grocery store on White Bridge Road, a dirt road, delivering to what is now the Nations, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade.

"When daddy was growing up, a lot of it was just a little store, nowhere near the size they are now. Little country store you'd just wander around. You didn't have as big of choice of food back then."

Stores like Grimes Grocery in East Nashville, Utleys downtown and Jungerman & Rust would take orders from shoppers and deliver them back when the main mode of transportation was horseback or walking.

Then as motorized transportation became more common, the idea of convenience in shopping changed, as did the Johnson family's way of grocery shopping, no longer having to wait at home for a grocery delivery boy.

"He rode Momma to the grocery store on the tractor, pulling a little trailer," Johnson said. "Got the stuff and headed back home that way."

Then, supermarkets were built and the face of Nashville changed.

Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University Associate Dean & Professor of Management in the College of Business says, "It's this fascinating evolution. The interplay of retailers who are trying to make a dollar, consumers who have time restraints and tastes they're trying to fulfill in the marketplace."

And now, at a time when the pace of life seems so much faster, the grocery industry could be headed back to basics, once again shopping for you and delivering to your doorstep.

“Overall, it's about 2% of the grocery business, about $20 billion dollars of a trillion dollar industry. But it's doubled since last year," Borchers said.

But for now, one major mid-century convenience of shopping will keep Johnson and his family headed to the store.

"I like to see what I’m going to buy and not have someone else pick it out for me," Johnson said.

There are now more than five major retailers offering grocery home delivery service here in the midstate with Kroger being the most recent, allowing you to get your food with the click of a button.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off