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Friday, June 20, 2014

Nashua Hannaford to get curbside grocery pickup service

NASHUA – Local folks who appreciate the convenience of drive-through services like fast-food, banking and car washes – and who may have wondered if one day they may be able to do their grocery shopping the same way – will soon be in luck.

The Planning Board Thursday night approved a proposal by Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy, 175 Coliseum Ave., to create a designated area for drivers to pull up, pay for and receive the groceries they ordered earlier on the store’s website. ...

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NASHUA – Local folks who appreciate the convenience of drive-through services like fast-food, banking and car washes – and who may have wondered if one day they may be able to do their grocery shopping the same way – will soon be in luck.

The Planning Board Thursday night approved a proposal by Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy, 175 Coliseum Ave., to create a designated area for drivers to pull up, pay for and receive the groceries they ordered earlier on the store’s website.

Hannaford, a regional chain based in Scarborough, Maine, that operates about 180 stores in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York, began adding the service, called “Hannaford To Go,” at selected stores last year.

“It’s really convenient for people in a hurry, and disabled people and those with children really appreciate the service,” Hannaford spokesman Eric Bloom said Thursday.

Bill McKenney, senior site engineer and project engineer for Hannaford company, told Planning Board members Thursday that employees would likely be servicing one vehicle at a time in the pull-up area, but could handle two at a time.

“If it’s more popular than we anticipate we can service two at once,” McKenney said.

He also said the pull-up area is a relatively easy fit at the Nashua store because it has more space than some other locations.

Other Hannafords To Go are planned elsewhere in New Hampshire as well as in New York stores this year, McKenney told the board. The chain’s Dover store added one recently, and one is currently awaiting approval in Goffstown. The first Hannaford To Go was installed in Windham, Maine.

McKenney said Thursday that customers will choose time slots for pick-up, of which there will be several available to avoid congestion in the pull-up area. Pick-up will typically be available about four hours after the order is placed, he added.

City planning director Roger Houston said Thursday that the purpose of the designated area is to prevent drivers using the service from having to pull up in fire lanes or trying to pull over in aisles between parking spaces.

He said the designated pull-up area will be on the west side of the supermarket, or to the right when viewing the store from the front parking lot.

A site design drawing shows that drivers will enter the designated area from the west end and pull into one of several lined spaces. Once their transaction is complete and their groceries loaded, drivers exit back into the parking lot’s main access road, which runs parallel to the store.

The only issue that city inspectors looked into, according to the proposal, involved drainage. They found that the proposed area will drain into an existing “under-drain” system and eventually discharge into a nearby natural treatment area, which settled the issue.

Inspectors said a subsequent review of the plans turned up no outstanding issues.

Hannaford opened the Coliseum Avenue supermarket on the roughly 8.7-acre site in 1996, replacing a smaller store in a small strip mall that was known as the Nashua Mall Plaza.

The Zoning Board signed off in May on variances that Hannaford requested to allow the project to move forward.

Bloom, the company spokesman, described “Hannaford To Go” as a curbside pickup service rather than a drive-through window. He said customers place their orders on the Hannaford website, where they will find every item that’s available in the store and pay the same price as they would inside.

Bloom said that when customers arrive, one associate processes the payment while another loads the groceries into the customer’s vehicle.

Beer and wine are included in the service, Bloom said. Similar to a regular checkout lane, the cashier who processes drive-up payments will ask customers for identification.

Customers will still need to go inside, however, to pick up their prescriptions in the pharmacy, Bloom added.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).