Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Free Shipping Saves Time, Money, and Your Aching Back

Back in the good old days GoD for short, things were very different, families were usually much closer geographically than they are today and in the 1950’s stores still regularly delivered groceries right to your door. There was even a milkman, eliminating the need for a trip to the store and the difficulty of lugging your purchases home. As a senior will progressively find while growing older in your own home that it is not as easy as it would have been in the 50’s.

I had an aunt who was a bit senile but even before she got bad and we (the family) intervened, she had no way to shop other than by relying on friends who were just as elderly as she was. For decades she relied on the trolley in Pittsburgh but the city finally removed that wonderful convenience, making things just that much harder for the poor and elderly.

When we learned she had asked a neighbor just how long they thought someone could live just on potatoes we stepped in - actually I would have done so earlier but others in the family objected.

But moving into this decade things have turned around completely if you know how to take full advantage of various little known services.

For example, did you know that for a small yearly fee Amazon offers free shipping on a vast number of items from car parts to packaged foods along with tens of thousands of free books and movies? Or that Walmart will ship many orders over $50 for free (including the 50 lb. dog food bags for our two large service dogs)?

Another terrific advantage of online shopping at sites such as or especially is that you can usually find a lot of useful feedback in the reviews and even ask questions before ordering.

It is a common fear that online shopping is dangerous but we've never had the slightest problem with Amazon or any other big, long-established online firm.

Using credit cards or getting the card makes it even safer.

Amazon also lets you sell things, even used items at a very reasonable fee which is only deductible from sold items.

But let's not forget Walmart.

We have a good superstore here in Punxsutawney but searching the store for just what we need, especially when I can't walk and have to send Beth in to find some obscure electronic item is rough on both of us.

(BTW, if you want to learn more about small town life here in Groundhog Central, check out my book "The View from Highland Ranch" which is a collection of some of my columns from the local daily newspaper. It was co-authored by my lead donkey, Jack who told me he could always spot another jacka$$. Note, I'm a member of the National Press Club and used to write for Post-Newsweek.)

A newborn son of Jack's with his mother.

Also, even the largest superstore doesn't carry everything Walmart sells and the online ordering system takes care of both problems.

Some Walmart stores have begun a grocery shopping service where you order items and they bring them out to your car.

It isn't here yet so I can't say just how it works but it is probably free and another very nice option for disabled shoppers.