Between ballroom dancing, Eucharistic Ministers, taking five classes and not having a car on campus, Sarah Howe ’07 has trouble finding the time or the means to do her grocery shopping.

But as of last Thursday, students like Howe no longer need to leave campus in order to purchase a bottle of detergent or a box of cereal.

“” is an online grocery shopping system where students can fill out a form of what they want online, print the form out, and fax it to the Stag Snack Bar. The order is then packed and available for pickup 24 hours later.

“I’d say if the student doesn’t have a car, and they don’t like what the cafeteria has to offer, this service has the perfect convenience for a busy student,” said Howe, who spent $10 testing out the service.

Most students, however, do not have access to a fax machine. David Hebert, director of retail operations, said that students can also drop off the completed order forms at Stag Snack Bar between 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., seven days a week but there is no way to electronically submit an order.

“It’s only online in the fact that you key in what you want and print off the form,” said Howe. “Until they make it so that you actually fill it out and email it on the website, it’s only quasi-online shopping.”

Timeliness was another issue in which Howe had to deal with, despite the order sheet stating that orders are packed within 24 hours.

“I ordered it on Saturday around 6:30 p.m. They said they would give me a call on Sunday,” said Howe. “I did get a call on Sunday but they apologized and said they couldn’t get a shipment in until Tuesday or Wednesday for most of the items I ordered.”

Students felt it was more important to save money by taking that extra step and going to an actual grocer because the prices through “Virtual Grocer” are higher than that of traditional grocers. For instance, a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi is $5.99 through the “Virtual Grocer” versus $4.39 at the Fairfield Stop ‘ Shop.

“If you have to walk all the way down to the Stag Snack Bar to hand it in, most kids are just going to take the shuttle to Stop ‘ Shop or they’ll ask their friends to drive them,” said Constantina Koulosousas ’07. “Plus, you’re not eligible for savings like being able to use coupons or taking advantage of two for one deals.”

The markup on the items offered is higher because of the added convenience factor, as well as to offset the cost of shipping as the merchandise comes direct from Sodexho’s warehouses.

“We did competitive pricing with a few local stores like 7-11and Krauser’s,” said Hebert. “I think we’re very competitive. Some things were a little higher, some things were a little lower.”

The “Virtual Grocer” shopping list can be downloaded in the format of an Excel spreadsheet from their website at

Other schools such as the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University have access to similar shopping services such as, albeit it is not run by the schools’ primary food provider. The prices are also slightly lower then the “Virtual Grocer.” For example, a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi sells for $4.99. After an order is placed, it is then delivered right to the students’ residence free of charge.

Fairfield students also can access Stop ‘ Shop’s, another online grocery shopping service. However, students are required to spend at least $50 per order, in addition to a delivery fee of at least $5.95.

Both services allow the buyer to choose a delivery time for any weekday.

The “Virtual Grocer” system does not offer a method of delivery but it is an option being considered for the future.

“We don’t deliver,” said Hebert. “We thought about implementing a delivery service, but we thought we would roll out the service first, see where this takes us, and then we can expand our options in the future.”

But students like Koulosousas say they will not recommend the service until such features are added.

“I wouldn’t recommend the ‘Virtual Grocer’ to other students because of the prices and it isn’t really as convenient as it sounds,” said Koulosousas. “I think they should add some kind of web connection where you would just send them your shopping list over the internet and they would deliver it to your residence hall. When that happens, I’ll reconsider it.”

Selection of merchandise on the “Virtual Grocer” are also limited to only 95 items, as compared to which offers over 7,000 items.

“Obviously, [Sodexho] can’t emulate a real grocery store, and it would be a real shame for it to flop, but it still does have a lot of room to grow,” said Howe.

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