Strack & Van Til rolls out curbside grocery pickup in S'ville

The Grand Re-Opening of the Strack & Van til store in Schererville in August. The

Tony V. Martin, The Times

Strack & Van Til, the Region's largest grocery chain, is looking to make grocery shopping more convenient – so convenient that your groceries are ready and waiting when you pull up to the store.

The Highland-based chain, which has 37 locations in Indiana and Illinois, has partnered with online ordering service Instacart to offer curbside grocery pickup at its Schererville location. Shoppers can use their computer or smart device to order groceries, which Stracks employees would pick out, bag and have waiting when they pull up to the curb at 1515 U.S. 41.

If enough shoppers use the service, it will be rolled out to other Strack and Ultra grocery stores.

"We're very excited about piloting a pickup option for our customers," Strack & Van Til CEO Jeff Strack said.

Meijer and Whole Foods also offer the curbside pickup service in some markets, but Strack & Van Til is believed to be the first to roll out a "click and collect" program in Northwest Indiana.

Strack & Van Til previously teamed up with San Francisco-based Instacart to offer home delivery of groceries on the northside of Chicago, and Ultra Foods in Downers Grove, Westmont and the surrounding area. 

"Our initial launch with Instacart for delivery in the Chicago area has been incredibly successful in a few short weeks," Strack said. "Customers everywhere are looking for ways to make the shopping experience more convenient and we believe curbside pickup will be a great fit for the Schererville customer."

Strack & Van Til Vice President Chris Bengston said the expectation is that the service will be rolled out to other Strack and Ultra locations, but not to all of them. The grocery chain will offer it in communities where it is in demand.

Both Strack & Van Til and Instacart are testing new waters, since the fast-growing, online personal shopping service has been focused on home delivery in more densely populated urban areas until recently.

"Grocery Pickup is a relatively new product extension for Instacart," said Dave Osborne, Instacart general manager for Midwest markets.

Interested customers can go online to instacart.com or download the Instacart app on their phone, select the Schererville store, add items to a virtual cart, and then make the purchase. The service costs a flat $1.99 for orders of more than $35, or $149 for an annual membership. 

For orders less than $35 the fee varies based on the amount of the order and the pickup time. The minimum order for curbside pickup is $10. 

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.