CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Bread. Milk. Alcohol. Those are some of the most common items Melinda Rouw picks up as she shops for customers at the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee through its Aisles Online service.

From the start of her shift to the end, she stays busy.

“My day just zooms by,” she said. “I can work 9 or 10 hours and, wow, it’s time to go home.”

Hundreds of orders pass through Melinda’s hands every week. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store saw 180 to 200 orders per week. But, like everything else, that changed once the pandemic hit.

“Now we average about 800 orders a week,” said store HR manager Sarah Kew. “Our peak was 1,500 orders in a week, that was a little dicey.”

The store’s Aisles Online department had about 10 employees when it started, but has grown to 60 over the last few months. That’s common among the eight-state region Hy-Vee serves.

“We have grown our Aisles Online team by more than 10,000 people across our eight-state region since the COVID pandemic began,” Director of Public Relations Christina Gayman said in an email.

In the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area, Gayman said Hy-Vee is looking to add about 350 to 400 people for Aisles Online positions.

Kew said she could easily hire another 10 people for the department at her store. There are positions open in other departments across the store, but Kew said, next to the grocery department, Aisles Online is the busiest.

When asked about her fastest pickup time, Rouw said it varies.

“Probably 15 minutes depending on the size of the order, because you could have anything from 20 to maybe a hundred different items,” she said.

She says coming to work every day is like coming to a family.

“I love working with new people and learning different things,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

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