BLISSFUL SHOPPING or HOW TO SAVE TIME, BUT PROBABLY NOT MONEY by Karen A. Lech His name is Claude, my Schwan's man. He visits me every two weeks on Monday. The pale, yellow truck with the Swan painted on the side pulls into the driveway and I know it is time to make decisions. "Can I interest you in anything today", he politely asks. And, being the smart aleck I am, I think of a lot of responses, but tongue in cheek I simply say, "May I see the catalog?" Schwan's, a door to door grocery store of sorts, is a company based in Marshall, Minnesota and has been in business since 1952. Their trucks are stocked with numerous items, nearly from soup to nuts, breakfast to ice cream desserts. All items are frozen (thank God I have a huge freezer!). They carry a smorgasbord of products to help a busy mom, delight a single person's sweet tooth, tempt bachelors into two weeks of gourmet food (then they really don't have to cook for themselves, and hey, it has to be healthier than pizza every night). Of course, Schwan's boasts convenience, and sometimes, by golly, it is TOO convenient. You can order on line and your Schwan's man will have it on the truck on visiting day! The prices are comparable to the school's version of Market Day. Some are a little bit less expensive and some are a tad more. The variety is better, as you can stock up your ice cream supply without the worry of it melting on the way home from the Market Day pick up. Plus, what if your Market Day order comes in on the Saturday that you have to attend that nephew's wedding? Peapod is another version of door to door sales that comes to mind, but you have to make a list and they shop for you. I wish they had had Peapod when my twins were infants! I felt like shopping day was a caravan across the vast desert of what was then Omni. Three shopping carts, twins in stroller, the two-year-old's hand placed firmly on the stroller handle and a six-year-old and nine-year-old helping me to push the other shopping carts. And you KNOW they filled the carts with things they wanted. Check out time was an eye opener to cost, especially as the two older boys loved to pack the bags, thereby bypassing mother's watchful, frugal eye. By the time the cashier had rung everything up, my bleared eyesight and mind took it all in stride as I somehow, dazed, paid my bill. Of course when we got home, there was the revelation. I soon learned the advantages of shopping at 1-2 a.m. - alone. Home delivery/door to door sales brings to mind the Fuller brush man, the Avon lady (who would actually come to your door!) and Watkins products. Looking back through history, this all is a throw back to times of yesteryear with the "medicine man" selling his wares out west, vegetable peddlers in the city, the tinker who would sharpen knifes, scissors, etc. I am sure we have all read stories of medieval England, when a man and his cart - and at times his family-would travel from town to town, kind of like a door to door or town to town market place. What if all companies were to change to a home delivery/shopping service today? Microsoft comes to your door with disks, software, or hardware or printer ink companies with an assortment of HP, Epson, Lexmark, etc.? This could be a boon to America's economy! Wouldn't you love it if a gas truck pulled in to fill your car? "Knock, Knock..." "Hello?" "Good morning, Ma'am or sir, how is you fuel tank today?" This is would make me ecstatic! No more filling my gas tank at the gas station in bad weather!! Pharmacy lines... think of it! A traveling pharmacist... complete with your prescriptions right on board! This could be endlessly enchanting and time saving. I would NOT let my children answer the door for the Toy Salesman, though. And what could we do with all the time we save? The possibilities are endless... Again, this bird brain has opened a can of worms. thanks for reading! Karen A. Lech, copyright 2005