Okay, it's about time, or rather well beyond time that we talk about Relay Foods. I have been hoping to use them myself before writing about them. Between online market memberships, and visits to area markets it just hasn't happened.
Relay started out in Charlottesville, and began operating in Richmond about a year ago.
By now I have heard from a few people who have used this on-line food market All have loved it for the convenience, selection, and reasonable cost. There is no membership fee, vendors pay the administrative cost. I have mixed feelings about that, hoping the benefits of greater reach make it worth the added cost for vendors. When it comes to vendors, Relay offers products from an amazing collection of local farms, small local food producers, larger grocery stores, gourmet shops, specialty shops, and even wine and beer shops. They mix big corporate products with fresh local ones.
You can order as many, or few times as you like, and choose pick up or home delivery per-order. Home delivery is scheduled once a week by zip code. Delivery cost between twelve dollars for a one time request and works its way down to a seven dollar a week fee for a one year commitment. Pickup is, of course, free.
There do seem to be a lot of great things about Relay's set up. One of my favorites is the flexibility in pick up locations. You can order multiple times per week if you need to using different pick up locations each time. There are over a dozen locations all over town from Rockets Landing, to Innsbrook and Mechanicsville. Two different locations in The Fan, and two in the Libbie Ave. area, as well as ones in Church Hill, Bon Air, Stony Point, and Down Town. Also great, you can place stuff in your shopping cart and leave your cart open for days, adding items as you need to. You can keep adding stuff right up until midnight the night before your pickup or delivery date.
Some of my favorite shopping options in the mix include J. Emerson Wines, Blanchard's Coffee, Carpe Donut!!, Gearharts' Chocolates, Planet Earth Diversified, Harmony Hill Farm, Sausage Craft, Polyface Farm, Night Sky Farm, and Mountain View Farm. Okay, writing this post has motivated me. I'm going to order from Relay, and I'll let you know how it goes. If any of you out there are using them let us know what you think! I wouldn't want On-line shopping to ever take the place of the real contact and sense of community created by shopping at farmers markets. But, not everyone is going to go to farmers markets, or go out of their way to reach that speciality shop all the time. If online markets like Relay, the Online Market at St. Stephen's and Lulu's Local Foods, make it possible for more small farms and small business to find an audience and succeed then I'm all for it.
To check out their pretty fantastic website click Here.