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Google Express allowing North Dakota residents access to big-name stores

Grand Forks residents will now be able to shop at Whole Foods, Costco and Barnes and Noble without leaving their home.

Google Express launched its delivery service in North Dakota today, allowing online shoppers here to purchase items from big-name stores that may otherwise require a long drive to reach.

Brian Elliott, Google Express general manager, said in an interview Monday the service is meant to help consumers "connect with stores that they love." It started a few years ago and has offered same-day delivery in large cities such as Chicago, but Google officials found they could expand to broader areas with overnight or two-day delivery, Elliott said.

Google Express will offer two-day delivery in North Dakota.

Grocery items from stores such as Whole Foods and Costco won't include refrigerated and frozen goods, but the service will offer access to the dry items, Elliott said.

Google's rival Amazon also offers two-day delivery through its Prime service, and even two-hour delivery through Amazon Prime Now in almost 30 metro areas. The latter service is not available in North Dakota, according to its website. Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said the company doesn't comment on its future plans.

Elliott said their decision to expand to North Dakota isn't about competition.

"Our bigger mission as part of Google shopping is to help connect users with merchants that they love," he said, adding the service also helps stores reach more customers.

Google Express would give Grand Forks residents easier access to stores such as Whole Foods, the nearest of which is in the Twin Cities area. Guitar Center, Toys 'R' Us, Ulta Beauty, Costco, Barnes and Noble, Fry's Electronics are among the stores that will be available in North Dakota through the service, Google spokeswoman Genevieve Park said.

Google Express customers could pay $4.99 per store order—buying one item from two stores would count as two orders—or sign up for a membership for $95 annually or $10 a month for unlimited deliveries, Elliott said. There is a $3 "small order fee" for orders totaling less than $15, he said.

Merchants available in North Dakota through Google Express:

• Barnes & Noble

• Costco Wholesale

• Fry's Electronics

• Guitar Center

• Kohl's

• L'Occitane

• Moosejaw

• Petsmart

• Road Runner Sports

• Sur La Table

• The Vitamin Shoppe

• Toys 'R' Us / Babies 'R' Us

• Treasure Island

• Ulta Beauty

• Walgreens

• Whole Foods Market