Waiting in line can feel like absolute torture sometimes, especially when there are mandates about how close you can stand to other people. If you're not interested in standing in line but you still need to shop for essentials here and there, this new technology might help. Vancouver's latest app, Howbsy tells you how long the line-ups are at your local grocery stores. 

Narcity spoke to the co-founder of Howbsy, Mae Woods, who told us about why she and her partner developed the concept and how the app can save you time at stores all over the city and beyond. 

Howbsy is basically an abbreviation of "how busy," which is apt because if you look at the state of our grocery stores nowadays, the answer is: very busy

Woods and her partner Pan Khantidhara came up with the idea when Khantidhara's mom had to endure a really frustrating line-up at one grocery store. 

That's when the pair talked about this issue and realized that this was a fairly big problem and they could actually build a tool to help. 

Khantidhara is a software engineer and Woods is in marketing, so they were able to get this technology off the ground fairly soon after their initial conversation. 

Khantidhara built the website in just five days and so Howbsy was launched on April 24, 2020. 

The website doesn't just help you track the line-ups at grocery stores; you can also check the lines at pharmacies, banks, recycling depots, fast food spots, and liquor stores. 

In just two days, the website had accumulated about 10000 users. And as of Tuesday, May 5, Howbsy has passed about 50,000 users. 

According to Woods, they're now in 17,000 establishments across B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, so it's safe to say that users have been absolutely itching for a website just like this. 

The majority of their users are in B.C., as that's where the app first launched.

Coquitlam, Burnaby, Port Moody, New Westminster, Langley, Surrey, Vancouver, Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack are some of the cities where users have been highly active in reporting their local line-ups. 

"It's a crowd-sourced platform," Woods said. So how it works is that when people wait in lines, they have to report the wait times to the app. 

So that's how other people find out the length of these line-ups, so they can then decide whether they should actually make the effort to leave the house and go shopping on any given day. 

At this point, they're not working with the stores directly but it's something they're considering pursuing in the future. 

The app is 100% free to use, as the pair developed this app to help their community at this time. 

So if you want to get started, all you have to do is go on the website, type in your preferred store or search by category or location. And that's pretty much it: you'll get the wait times. 

And if you want to give your own input, all you have to select the store, type in how long you waited and how many others were in the line. 

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