Open Produce partnering with Silicon Valley upstart to offer deliveries

Open Produce, 1635 E. 56th St., is offering a delivery service it hopes will strengthen its connection with some residents. Owen M. Lawson III

Open Produce, 1635 E. 56th St., is offering a delivery service it hopes will strengthen its connection with some residents.

-Owen Lawson III

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

Open Produce, 1635 E. 55th St., became the first Hyde Park — and South Side —grocer to sign on with online shopping upstart Instacart last week.

San Francisco-based Instacart — which raised almost $450 million in investments earlier this summer — currently hires personal shoppers in 11 cities to pick up groceries for customers who order online. Last Wednesday, Open Produce joined the service’s roster of eight Chicago retailers customers can buy from.

“We’ve been trying to offer some form of delivery service for a long time because customers keep asking for it, but we always have run into logistical barriers because we are a small store with a small staff,” Open Produce co-owner Steven Lucy said in an e-mail last Friday.

Instacart currently operates from 35th Street on the South Side through Evanston on the North Side, and its recent expansion covers Hyde Park, Woodlawn and parts of Kenwood, Park Manor and Washington Park.

Lucy, who said he reached out to the company first, asking whether they would be expanding to Hyde Park, said he hopes the new offering will attract additional business in the winter as well as from customers who are disabled, busy or live far from the store.

j.bishku@hpherald.com