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The Power of Now: 4 Instant Delivery Apps in Washington

Jeff Bezos dreams of a fleet of drones delivering wishes within hours. He’d better hurry. A rash of new apps and other digital services have made it possible for Washingtonians to get pretty much anything on a moment’s notice.

UrbanStems

Launched in DC: February.

What can you order? One of three bouquets, wrapped in burlap and a bow.

How? Urbanstems.com.

ETA: An hour or two.

Fee: $35.

Range: Throughout DC; Arlington and other nearby suburbs promised “very soon,” says cofounder Jeff Sheely.

How’d they do? The bouquet was pretty, but our favorite touch was the photo confirmation we got of our flowers in their new home.


Instacart

Launched in DC: February.

What can you order? Groceries, beer, and wine from Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and Costco.

How? On Instacart.com or Instacart app.

ETA: One to two hours for most areas, or a time of your choosing.

Fee: $3.99; for members, free on orders over $35.

Range: DC and north to Kensington, west to McLean, south to Alexandria.

How’d they do? The produce we got looked good, with the exception of some squished tomatoes, but because the order was filled in Maryland, where grocery chains generally don’t sell beer, Instacart didn’t deliver our six-pack.


Postmates

Launched in DC: December.

What can you order? Food from DC eateries and wares from chain stores including Apple, Nike, and Staples.

How? On Postmates app.

ETA: Less than an hour, daily 8 am to midnight.

Fee: $5 and up, based on delivery distance.

Range: Central DC as well as Petworth, Forest Hills, and other neighborhoods, plus portions of Arlington and Bethesda.

How’d they do? Our pair of $130 Nikes arrived in an hour—but only after we e-mailed a photo of our credit card (which the company now says is no longer its policy). The size was correct—a good thing because returning them isn’t an option.


Washio

Launched in DC: January.

What can you order? Laundry and dry cleaning pickup and delivery.

How? Make an appointment via the Washio app for pickup in a 30-minute window.

ETA: 24 hours.

Fee: Wash and fold, $1.60 a pound; laundered and pressed shirts $2.75 each; dry cleaning priced per piece (from $5 for ties and scarves to $35 for king-size comforters).

Range: Central DC for now, but cofounder Juan Dulanto expects to expand to Cathedral Heights, Brookland, south of the Anacostia River, and the burbs.

How’d they do? The company expects DC, with its high density of suit-wearers, to be a dry-cleaning town, but one happy customer says the charm of not schlepping to a laundromat for regular wash shouldn’t be underestimated.


This article appears in the April 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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