Central Oregon shoppers starting next week will be able to go online or use an app and have their groceries delivered from five area stores without leaving their home with ­Instacart, an online personal shopping delivery service.

The personal shopping service allows customers to go online or use an app and purchase items from Albertsons, Safeway, Costco, Cash & Carry and Petco and have their items delivered within an hour. Fred Meyer stores in Central Oregon have already started offering an online shopping service, but without delivery. Amazon offers a two-hour delivery service on groceries, but only in Austin, Texas; Cincinnati; and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Delivery services like Instacart are targeting busy families and millennials who prefer to carve out time for family and leisure activities, rather than chores like grocery shopping, said Melissa Tran, Instacart operations manager for the Pacific Northwest, from her Seattle office.

“People love the idea of saving time and using it elsewhere,” Tran said. “This allows them to have someone else do the work.”

Starting Wednesday, customers in Bend, Tumalo, Redmond, Alfalfa and Millican will have access to the service. The way it works is a customer will select the grocery items online from the Instacart website, pay for the items and a delivery fee. The order will go to a personal shopper who will go to the store, personally select the items, pay for them and then deliver to your home, Tran said.

About 60 people have been hired as independent contractors by Instacart, she said. If the business goes as predicted, she said, another 40 shoppers will be hired.

The service is not much different from what Brenda Ambrose has been doing for the past five years with her business called Roundabout Bend Errand Services. Most of her customers are elderly, who ask her to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, she said.

“I mostly do shopping for seniors who don’t drive any more,” Ambrose said. “I kind of did this because when I was a nurse, I realized there was a need. A lot of people don’t have anyone.”

With Ambrose’s service she also spends a few minutes with her customers with each delivery. She charges an hourly rate of $20.

Delivery costs $5.99 with Instacart for orders of $35 or more, and some of the prices of items may be higher or lower than in the grocery store, but many may be the same, Tran said. The service doesn’t pick up cigarettes, alcoholic beverages or prescriptions, Tran said.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Instacart is available in 210 cities in the United States and Canada, Tran said.

“Central Oregon is really a great place for this service,” Tran said. “Deschutes County fits our criteria for expansion. In Bend there are tons of very active families, so giving people the opportunity to give them time to do the things they really love fits the criteria.”

— Reporter; 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com .

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