Shane Harms
AmazonFresh Pickup location in Ballard at 5100 15th Ave. N.W.

Ballardites respond after Amazon unveils AmazonFresh Pickup location in Ballard

Amazon announced last week the opening of their new AmazonFresh Pickup grocery location at 5100 15th Ave. N.W. in Ballard, and with the opening some Ballardites are showing support while others are showing bewilderment.

The store allows for Amazon members to order their groceries lists online or via app, and Amazon employees will pack them up at pickup locations.

The Ballard site is one of two AmazonFresh Pickup locations in Seattle – the second in SODO – and both are in a beta testing phase.

Amazon has not announced when the store will be fully operational, in fact Amazon has been quiet about the whole endeavor and did not respond to Ballard News-Tribune (or other publications’) inquiries in August as the site in Ballard was being constructed. The site is where Louie’s Chinese Cuisine used to reside.

The Amazon stores are something the Seattle Time’s called a “multipronged approach to unraveling the mystery of profitably selling groceries in the digital age,” as the e-commerce giant found it difficult to tap into the grocery lists of more choosy buyers looking or produce and meat.

With that in mind, the Ballard News-Tribune caught up with a meat cutter from Safeway in Ballard. Ed, wished to keep his anonymity for this article, but said he’s been with Safeway for over a decade. Ed is 52 and father to two young sons. Ed said he’s fearful that these new Amazon grocery stores are the model for the future of grocery shopping and that they are designed to “cut out the middlemen,” by eliminating the need for laborers.

“I think the store set-up would take my job away, eventually – maybe not all of us, but at least dwindle our hours and eliminate the need for customer interaction,” said Ed.

Ed pointed to the model of Amazon’s other brick-and-mortar store downtown called Amazon Go, which is a pilot retail store unveiled last year that is designed with no cashiers. Customers go in and pick out their items and leave. The items are tracked and charged to the customer’s account. Amazon Go is also in a beta testing phase and only available to Amazon employees.

Ed, who has training in communications, said if he loses his job as stores change their models, he’d consider looking for training at a vocational institution.

“I can’t go back into communications because they’re still not making enough. … I can only hope for the best with all this stuff coming at me. I try to keep a good spirit about it, but eventually the inevitable is going to happen. Amazon is a giant.”

Others in Ballard are more excited about the new store. Julie Moys is mother of two. Her husband works for Amazon. They moved to Ballard a year ago.

“Anything to save time, really – because I have kids saving time and convenience is something I look for,” said Moys. “Living so close to the store in Ballard, I’d say I’d definitely use it, but I guess I have a bias.”

Moys said that her family moved from a smaller, isolated community where going to the store and knowing the person packaging her cutlets was inherent in the grocery shopping experience. The BNT asked Moys if Amazon stores are eliminating that person-to-person interaction.

“I do battle with that kind of thing. We moved from an island where you did that, and I think maybe Amazon is killing that in America.”

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