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In The Aisles

An ongoing series of informational entries

Grocery Shopping Choreography

January 23, 2018 (from September 30, 2013)

I was asked an interesting question the other day: “Does it matter in what order you do the grocery shopping?”


Most grocery stores are set up so that you don't really have too much choice in the matter. The stores do this for convenience and also (mostly) to get you to buy more. Ever notice how the dairy section – particularly the milk – is located at the back of the store? This is because the vast majority of shopping lists include milk. By putting the milk at the back of the store, it forces you to walk past as much product as possible on your way to the milk and then on your way back to the checkout. Up to two thirds of what we buy is not what we intended on buying and the stores want to take full advantage of impulse shopping habits. I find that the key to healthy and frugal shopping is shopping the perimeter of the store first. Stock your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, dairy and fresh fish and meats. Avoid the aisles if possible because that is where the more processed, and in a lot of cases, less healthy and more expensive choices are. Once you have shopped the perimeter, you will often find that you have everything you need, especially if you make a meal plan for the week ahead of time.


When I am doing shopping for a client, impulse shopping is not a concern because I am going by the list, the whole list and nothing but the list (lol). If this is also the way you are shopping, I find that the thing that affects my choice as to where in the store I start the shopping is the type of shopping carts the store has. If the store has the old-style one-big-bin shopping carts, I will avoid starting in the produce or bakery areas because the first items picked are going to end up at the bottom of the bin where they get squished. Not good for fruits and veggies and breads. Fortunately most stores now feature the newer two level carts that in essence have two shallower bins. With these carts, I like to start with produce and put it in the top hopper followed by baked goods. Meats go on the bottom level as well as heavier products like bags of milk. I usually shop in the frozen foods section last regardless of which type of cart because even though frozen product is always stored in a cooler for transport, it is just better to keep the time out of an actual freezer to a minimum.


A well planned and well choreographed shopping trip can save you both time and money.

5 Tips on Detergent Shopping

January 23, 2018 (from July 29,2013)

Every once in a while a great sale comes along. While the perishable nature of some items will restrict how much you buy, there are some non-perishable "big ticket" items, where the quantity you buy is only restricted by the amount of space you have to store it. One great example: laundry detergent. Depending on what brand you use, laundry detergent can get very expensive; even when shopping at warehouse stores like Costco. Here are some tips when shopping for great deals on detergent:


1. Keep the calculator on your cellphone handy to calculate dollars per load. This information is also sometimes available on the price tag on the shelf, but is sometimes written in a dollars per litre format.


2. Some machines are High Efficiency (HE) and thus use less detergent. Some detergents aren't for use in HE machines, so make sure you are reading labels and looking for the HE logo (right).


3. Sometimes the best deal (best dollar per load value) will actually be on a smaller size. If you like the bigger containers with the dispenser spout on the side, make sure you keep the empty container and just refill it with your new bargain-priced detergent.


4. Look for coupons. P&G regularly put out coupon booklets and they also have coupons available on their website. You can also find coupons in other coupon booklets that come with your weekly flyer packages.


5. Pricematch to save even more. If you shop at a store that allows pricematching, save yourself an extra stop and bring the sale flyer and get the best price. Note: some sizes or brands may only be available at some stores and some stores have quantity limits on pricematching.


Happy shopping!

Article in The Londoner

"London-based delivery service expanding" by Chris Montanini

May 19, 2017

Like some of the world’s greatest ideas, Ben Fraraccio’s small business, Grocery Guy, began with scribbles on a napkin.

About six years ago, Fraraccio, 44, overheard a conversation between two seniors at Cherryhill Village Mall. Over coffee, the pair of ladies discussed how difficult it was to carry groceries from the nearby Metro, the only grocer within walking distance, up to their apartments.

Fraraccio said he leaned over to ask a few questions, then quickly wrote down what he was confident would be a can’t-miss entrepreneurial idea. After posting an ad on Kijiji offering a brand new grocery shopping and delivery service, Fraraccio waited.

And waited.

And waited.

“I didn’t get a response for about five months,” he said.

Not even from the inspirational seniors at the mall?

“Not even.”

Fraraccio kept his day job (he was delivering liquor through a separate local business, Good Cheer, at the time) but began filling a slow trickle of grocery shopping requests before and after work.

“Eventually it became a thing where I needed a full day, and then two days, and then eventually I let go of the liquor delivery and took this on full time,” he said.

More recently, Fraraccio has taken on the role of dispatcher, manning a phone and organizing his modest, two-person crew through a shared Google calendar. Just before the end of last year, Grocery Guy was fulfilling about 120 orders per month.

Then, in November, business spiked about 24 per cent, Fraraccio said. His average month now includes closer to 220 clients.

I don’t know what we did right … or what someone else did wrong, but … we were dancing in the streets it was so awesome,” Fraraccio said. “Once that happened in November, it was a bit of a sign we better get our (stuff) together and come up with some sort of proper dispatch system.”

Fraraccio wasn’t always in the delivery business. Originally from Scarborough, Fraraccio graduated from Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener before landing a job in the kitchen of a downtown London restaurant.

But a lingering back issue was making it difficult for him to be on his feet all day, he said. After a stint working in an office, Fraraccio decided he’d rather be making deliveries.

Now, Fraraccio is planning to expand Grocery Guy in St. Thomas, where he’s secured one client so far, and Kitchener. A couple recent trends (besides his own uptick in business) have Fraraccio confident about his timing.

Canada is getting older. For the first time ever, Canadians over 65 outnumber those under 15, according to Statistics Canada, and seniors are Fraraccio’s bread and butter. You can often find Grocery Guy vehicles outside buildings in Cherryhill, and Fraraccio said word of mouth in other senior-heavy communities is driving business.

Retired Canadians in red-hot real estate markets such as Toronto are also discovering London (and Kitchener-Waterloo) as less expensive alternatives once they sell their homes.

But Fraraccio sees opportunities for growth in other markets as well, including young executives, new moms, and anyone without access to a vehicle. He argues his 20 per cent delivery fee is cheaper and more convenient than taking a cab and his service helps cut down on incidental shopping.

“I had a client tell me the other day that we are saving them money because when she goes shopping, she ends up with $20 - $30 worth of other items that weren’t on her list,” Fraraccio said.

Other errands besides groceries aren’t out of the question, either.

“If it does not require you to personally be there, we can do it,” Fraraccio said.

“Just provide us with a list, let us know where you typically shop, and we go and do the rest form there. (We’ll) deliver it right to your door, in most cases right on the kitchen counter.”

[email protected]

Biz Showcase in December 2017 Mom & Caregiver Magazine

"Grocery Guy Delivers Convenience"

December 2017

Ben Fraraccio understands what it’s like to come home after a long day at work, pick up the kids and head to the grocery store.

Going up and down aisles and standing in line without giving in to the demands of youngsters can make a straightforward trip highly frustrating.

That’s where Grocery Guy comes in. Fraraccio, who launched the service in 2011, specializes in shopping for people who don’t have the time, or the ability, to complete a shopping trip on their own.

He and three assistants shop for customers and deliver orders within a 15-kilometre radius of London, including to Dorchester, St. Thomas, Komoka and Ilderton.

“We’ve been called life savers and one lady called us an angel. It’s so positive,” says Fraraccio, who is married with three young sons.

Because of his service, customers are able to eat fresh produce instead of relying on canned foods and they rarely overbuy with a shopper in charge of the list. One customer was grateful because she was able to enjoy a walk in the park while Fraraccio did her shopping.

Fraraccio graduated in 2004 from the Liaison College of Culinary Arts in Kitchener from the Basic Cook program. He worked in high-profile venues including Black Trumpet Restaurant, Sunningdale Golf & Country Club and Pazzo in Stratford. He believes that training has improved his knowledge of food. He’s able to identify exotic foods on a shopping list and the stores that sell unusual ingredients such as spelt flour.

Fraraccio charges a fee of $20 on orders up to $100. Above $100, customers pay a service charge of 20 per cent of the total cost of the order. If customers want to have items picked up at additional stores, each stop costs $3.

“Any errand that doesn't require you to be there in person, we can do it,” he says.

As the demand for personal shoppers grows, more businesses are opening. Fraraccio differentiates Grocery Guy by hiring assistants who genuinely care about customers.

 “With us, it’s about the customer experience and making sure everybody is happy,” he notes.

Thank You For An Awesome 2017

December 31, 2017

Another year has come to an end and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our clients, friends, followers, and the many local merchants where we shop. Your support throughout 2017 has made this a milestone year for Grocery Guy.⠀

We have seen some amazing growth in 2017, as we have expanded our shopping team to accommodate more orders and shorter turnaround times...in many cases, even offering same-day service!⠀

We have seen a steady increase in orders for Western students, allowing them and their parents alike to relax with one less thing to worry about...and in a lot of cases, healthier choices made LOL.⠀

We have also expanded our service area to include local communities around London, such as Dorchester, Ilderton, Komoka, and Saint Thomas. We are making shopping easier for so many more people.⠀

In 2018, we look forward to continuing to offer an unequalled level of service to our clients and community. We are also expecting the release of a Grocery Guy ordering app by spring.⠀

Once again, thank you all for your incredible support and we will see you all in 2018!!!⠀

Ben Fraraccio⠀

Owner⠀

Grocery Guy Inc.⠀

We Shop, We Deliver, You Relax!⠀

519-636-8533 groceryguy.ca

Meet the 2017 Our London Readers' Choice Award Winner in the category of Meal Prep, Planning & Delivery!

January 2018

Thank you to all our clients, friends, family, and followers for helping to make us the best in London. We look forward to exceeding your expectations in 2018!

Q & A in The London Review

January 10, 2018

What is your business all about? (What do you offer/what do you do?

Grocery Guy is a personal shopping service serving London and the surrounding communities.


How long have you been in business?

We have been in business since February 2011, the winter of London's "Snowmageddon".


How did you get started?

At the time, I was working a job in liquor delivery. I was having a coffee in Cherryhill Mall when I overheard a conversation between a group of seniors. They were discussing how difficult grocery shopping is becoming because of how large the stores are getting and just general mobility issues like getting around in the winter. I took the idea from there and built on it, making adjustments as it grew.


What makes your business unique?

Grocery Guy is unique in that we offer more than just a delivery guy with your stuff. We understand that in a lot of cases, due to mobility challenges, our shopper may be the only human interaction for the client that day. By taking the time to chat with the client even for a few minutes, we can make a world of difference to them.


Addendum: We also offer shopping at ANY store in London, so our clients can follow the sales and shop where they feel their needs will be met best...and not just for groceries; we will shop for just about anything we can fit in our vehicle.

We are also able to take orders over the phone. We realize that our clients may not be computer savvy, so we will take an order over the phone.


How many employees do you have?

We currently have 5 shoppers, most of whom have some culinary background, so we are able to make better choices when it comes to produce and meats. It also helps us to efficiently source niche products when required. Also, for our shoppers, shopping isn't just a job, it is something they enjoy doing.


What do you love about your company/the people you work with/the clients you serve?

One of my favourite things about running Grocery Guy: I get to interact with so many people from so many walks of life.


Is there anything you (would) like Londoners to know about you, your company, or what you offer?

We specialize in grocery shopping, but we can shop at any store in London. In fact, over the Christmas holidays, we were trying to promote shopping locally (#ShopLocal) by spreading awareness that rather than shopping online, they could order from local businesses and have their products delivered by us...in some cases faster than Amazon Prime. In the less snowy months, we also offer garden centre shopping...spend more time in the garden and less time in the garden centre!


When you're not working, what do you do to relax? What activities do you enjoy?

During my downtime (what's that?), I like to enjoy bike rides in the forest and impromptu camping trips.


What are you most proud of?

Besides my three wonderful sons, I am most proud of growing this company to the point where we have been able to provide gainful employment to other Londoners.


What is your greatest achievement?

Our greatest achievement has been bringing personal shopping back to London.


To find out more visit:

www.groceryguy.ca

The van got a facelift!

February 2, 2018

Thank you very much to Clint Morrison and the rest of the crew at Auto Trim Design; top notch job!

Spring Has Sprung!

March 23, 2018

We made it through another Canadian winter! Over the winter, we have welcomed many new clients and have enjoyed helping them with their shopping needs. As we go into spring and we start to see the opening of garden centres across the city, we would like to remind you that you can count on us to help you spend more time in the garden and less in line at the garden centre.