The days of traipsing around grocery store aisles and perusing merchandise may be a bit passé since the pandemic has popularized curbside pickup. What used to feel like an unremarkable routine—hopping in the car at any hour for a quick food item pickup at a local market—now poses safety concerns for many consumers (especially those who may not be able to make the early morning windows that are often designated for at-risk shoppers). While curbside options abound at big-box chains such as Walmart, Target, Aldi, Whole Foods Market and Publix, local companies are also catering to the Sarasota–Manatee community with their own brand of personalized service. As of September, 85 percent of shoppers had increased their use of curbside pickup during the pandemic, and 79 percent reported that a contactless store pickup was “very important” to them, according to Incisiv’s 2020 Shopper Study. Pre-COVID-19, numerous stores had already offered curbside pickup, but other retailers either introduced the option during lockdown measures in the spring or greatly improved their previous systems.

Morton’s Gourmet Market, Detwiler’s Farm Market and Richard’s Foodporium are among the area locales that are giving customers the freedom to remain in their cars while the associates do the shopping. Items can be ordered directly from the computer or with a quick phone call, and masked employees bring the goods right to the trunk. It is a quick, convenient alternative that often only requires a 10- to 15-minute parking commitment. And, during an era when supporting small businesses is paramount, why not forgo the shopping hassle, pull up, sit in the air-conditioning, get goodies and further the local economy, all at the same time? These three spots have perfected the process, but be sure to do some research before pulling up—as hours, protocols and inventories vary. SRQ

Richard’s Foodporium has multiple locations throughout Sarasota-Manatee and other nearby parts of the state, and the store’s concept appeals to customers who prefer a small and intimate shopping experience. The independently owned natural foods retailer has been serving Southwest Florida since 1979 with organic edible and bath products, from-scratch nut butters and bulk specialty foods like granola and dried fruit. For Richard’s new curbside pickup program, customers can call or email any participating local store, offer information on the items they wish to purchase and select an approximate pickup time. A Richard’s associate will do the shopping for the customer, provide the order total and take payment right over the phone. Customers are just asked to call the store upon arrival so that a Richard’s associate can bring the bags out to the vehicle. Check the store website for monthly deals on supplements, essential oils, soaps and teas (as well as inventive recipe ideas). Every Sunday, Richard’s also offers a 10 percent discount for seniors, students, military personnel and first responders.

Detwiler’s Farm Market has numerous locations in the bi-county area, but curbside pickup is only available at the Clark Road (Sarasota) and Palmetto spots. The market offers fresh produce, a full-service butchery, a seafood shop, an Amish-style deli with meats and cheeses, natural groceries, a wellness department, a farmhouse bakery with scratch-made treats and an old-fashioned ice cream shop with locally made blends. Detwiler’s has a fast-tracked online ordering option that allows the store to offer more than 5,000 items to its customers. Just create an account, place an order and select a preferred arrival date and time. Associates shop for the customer and bring the order to the vehicle (a text message is even sent to the customer when the order is ready for pickup). Check the weekly flyer for deals and browse the grab-and-go premade sub, salad and healthy protein smoothie selections. Detwiler’s is known for sourcing high-quality foods from within 100 miles of its stores, which bolsters the statewide farming industry.

Morton’s Gourmet Market has been Sarasota’s premier full-service specialty food store for decades—family-owned by four generations of Mortons since 1969. The locale is stocked with a bakery and coffee shop, prime meats and seafood, prepared meals from scratch, an extensive wine selection, cheeses and pâtés from around the world, a deli and a full-service catering department. The store now offers local delivery and in-store/curbside pickup options. Same-day pickup may even be available if an order is placed online by 10 am. Once the order is placed, a customer service representative will contact the shopper with available pickup times. Freshness is prioritized, with flavorful inventory like deli salads (an Israeli couscous salad, a quinoa edamame salad and a pad Thai shrimp salad), house-made deli subs, and an array of premade holiday meals and luxury gift baskets.

Detwiler’s Farm Market (curbside pickup available at Clark Road and Palmetto locations), 941-378-2727, Richard’s Foodporium (various locations), 941-893-8617, Morton’s Gourmet Market, 1924 South Osprey Ave., Sarasota, 941-955-9856,