I live in Long Island City, headquarters of Fresh Direct. There's a giant screaming neon billboard for Fresh Direct in our neighborhood, as well as those dang posters all over our subway stops. Yet, the crazy thing is, they will not deliver to us (zip code 11101). This makes me insane. How they taunt me with their glistening photos of prepared lamb chops I can never have! Their website reminds me that I can go pick up an order at their warehouse. Yet Long Island City is a very spread-out, strange area. So while we're technically in the same hood, it is an isolated, out-of-the-way place I could not reach without a car. Recently I read in the Times that they're extending their delivery to the Hamptons. Yet they still won't come to me, their loving neighbor who'd gladly pay royally to get back the half of my weekend I spend toting heavy bags of Whole Foods groceries from Manhattan on the N train. What's up with these guys?
Ask Gothamist has also received queries about the lack of Fresh Direct service from residents of other neighborhoods with limited supermarkets, such as Red Hook in Brooklyn. According to the Fresh Direct FAQ on their website, "We deliver to certain neighborhoods in New York. Very soon, we'll be delivering to every address in Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens." There is no explanation as to how neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens are selected, so we posed the question to Fresh Direct ourselves by filling out a form on their website. However, we did not receive a response by e-mail or phone (we gave them a few days to get back to us). We suspect it has a lot to do with demand for Fresh Direct and profitability. An article in the Gotham Gazette entitled "Groceries Everywhere, but Not a Delivery to Be Had" from March 28th quotes a Long Island City resident who states "Fresh Direct sets up delivery zones based on local demand."
Ask Gothamist was able to track down a former Fresh Direct employee, who confirmed our theory, and told us (anonymously): "It's all about the money. I don't understand the math of the decision, but around the office, I would hear rumblings that it just wasn't sound on the dollar end." He then told us he knew someone who lived one block from the dividing line between the Astoria delivery zone and the Long Island City non-delivery zone. This person began a letter campaign to Fresh Direct with other tenants in his building, and it worked - they now deliver there. The former Fresh Direct employee advises: "Get organized and ask agressively, with multiple signers."
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