By Morgan Bryce
Last Wednesday, Opelika’s Wright’s Market became the first independent grocer in the country to launch a pilot version of the “SNAP Online Purchasing Program,” which will enable customers to pay with EBT/SNAP for their online orders.
In May 2017, Wright’s was one of 10 companies selected nationwide to participate in a USDA initiative to help make SNAP online payments possible, a list of big-name retailers including the likes of Amazon and Walmart. As the only independent grocer on the list, Wright said the opportunity to try out this program at his store is a benchmark in its history and the culmination of a development nearly three years in the making.
“The first launch of the program took place in New York (with Amazon, ShopRite and Walmart), which obviously features a very high population density. I think there was a desire on the USDA’s part to test it in a smaller environment and (our store) being a proponent of access to food in general,” Wright said.
Amazon and Walmart stores in Oregon join Wright’s in being the most recent to try out the program.
While the initial launch is focused on EBT/SNAP program participants in Auburn-Opelika, Wright said their goal is to eventually expand and serve Lee County and surrounding areas.
“For those anywhere that need it in our area, we will eventually have a pretty good focus on our rural areas, which ties in with our emphasis as a business on community involvement,” Wright said.
Citing Hurtsboro and Loachapoka as examples, Wright said part of the program’s future development will include the creation of central delivery centers within a small community or town. Through the assistance of trained workers and volunteers at the center, EBT/SNAP customers will be able to place and pick up their orders.
“For those (delivery) centers in (places) further away, we’d be looking at a church or senior-care facility where we could deliver multiple orders. There would be access to technology in those areas for those who may not have computers or smart phones and be able to shop and place their orders,” Wright said.
The EBT/SNAP feature is another addition to the company’s e-commerce business, which has offered online shopping to its customers since fall 2016.
For those wanting to create an account, Wright said the process is simple:
1) Go to wrightsmarkets.com
2) Click “Online Shopping”
3) Open an account and
4) Start shopping.
Delivery orders must be placed by noon, with delivery services available Monday through Friday. The first three deliveries are free and fees for orders of $100 or more are waived. After three deliveries, the delivery fee is $9.95.
Curbside pick-up is available seven days a week: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. No fees are applied to curbside orders.
As the only independent grocer facilitating this program, Wright said he hopes his business can serve as a blueprint for other stores in their fight to provide access to fresh food and curb the effects of hunger insecurity nationwide.
“Our hope is that we develop a program here that can be replicated in other parts of the country that are facing some of the same challenges we are,” Wright said.
For more information, call 334-749-1333 or visit their website. The store is located at 603 Pleasant Drive.