strategist investigates

The Retailers (Big and Small) Doing Curbside Pickup Amid the Pandemic

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images/2020 Getty Images

If you’ve been shopping for essentials (and other stuff) online ever since most of the country implemented strict stay-at-home measures, you’ve probably witnessed that many retailers, faced with a surge in orders, are struggling to fulfill them, leading to delays. Presumably to ease the stress on their delivery systems, many — both big and small — now offer the option of curbside pickup (in some cases as quickly as two hours). While every store has slightly different protocols, the curbside-pickup service at most places works like this: Fill your cart online, then go pick up your order without entering the actual store (an employee will bring your order out to your car to limit all parties’ exposure). Below, we’ve listed the national and New York City–based retailers we know of (and trust) utilizing curbside pickup, along with what sorts of stuff you can get at each.

But first: a note about groceries.

A number of grocery stores, both national and local, are offering curbside pickup. However, we’ve noticed that some have said this option won’t result in faster service. For instance, in New York City, Wegmans is offering curbside pickup (in addition to delivery) via Instacart but notes that “curbside-pickup times with Instacart are limited, and, in many cases, orders are taking longer to be shopped.” Elsewhere, Aldi and Publix stores also offer curbside pickup at select locations by way of Instacart. And a Long Island location of Whole Foods (select stores are offering pickup through Amazon Prime Now) told us that there’s a lead time of about a week. Still, it’s an option, and other stores — like Safeway, Kroger, and Walmart Grocery — offer forms of curbside pickup without an intermediary service like Instacart.

For pretty much everything else (including shelf-stable groceries)

Target, via its Drive Up service, offers curbside pickup of mostly anything you might need — from underwear to kids’ toys to video games to workout gear to shelf-stable groceries like beans and pasta to Rio’s favorite inexpensive hand cream for constantly washed hands. (Notably, perishable food, flowers, and alcohol are not available for curbside pickup.) The service is available at select stores, pending product availability. To determine whether your store offers Drive Up, locate the item you wish to purchase in the app. If it is available for Drive Up, it will indicate that under “Pick it up,” according to the company. To order, shop on the website or the app and select Drive Up as your delivery method. Once you receive a notification that your order is ready (through email and the app), open the app and select “I’m on my way” under the “Discover” tab. When you’re there, park in the designated area, select “I’m here” in the app, and someone will bring your order out to your car and scan a barcode from your app to confirm pickup.

Big Lots!

Big Lots! offers curbside pickup of in-stock products from its inventory of clothing, shelf-stable pantry goods, and household items including décor, personal care, and cleaning products (like this OxiClean stain remover that we’ve written about before). Shop online, wait for a confirmation email, then head to the store. Call the store and describe your vehicle to a team member, who will bring out your order.

For household basics and small appliances

Ace Hardware

Your neighborhood Ace Hardware may be offering curbside pickup (and delivery) — the company says the services are available at select locations — of supplies for home repair, DIY, and gardening, as well as certain essentials, such as these rechargeable batteries that were recommended to us by survivalists (don’t forget the charger). Simply order online and select “Free store pickup” at checkout. Once you receive an email confirming that your order is ready for pickup, head to the store, then call the number provided in the email and an associate will come out with your order.

Kohl’s

Kohl’s, which carries clothing for the whole family as well as home goods including furniture, bedding, and appliances like vacuums and the do-it-all Instant Pot (that will serve you well if you’re cooking a lot these days), offers curbside pickup at select locations (check here for a list). Order online and choose “Drive up” when adding items to your cart. You’ll receive an email when your order is ready with pickup instructions. When you arrive, call the number provided in the email and an associate will bring your items to your trunk or back seat.

For specialty foods

For those in New York City, Sahadi’s — the Brooklyn purveyor of Middle Eastern fare — now offers curbside pickup (and local at-home delivery) from its locations on Atlantic Avenue and in Industry City through Mercato. In addition to Middle Eastern staples like tahini and harissa, Sahadi’s carries pantry staples like this chef-approved sea salt from La Baleine as well as grains and plenty of beans. Mercato offers a free 14-day trial, after which you have to pay to join (fees start at $8 a month). Just know that even if you’re picking up curbside, Sahadi’s is experiencing the same delays that larger grocers are, so it may not be a faster option.

For men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing and home accents