How to plan multiple errands using online maps?
December 15, 2016 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a map site online that will allow me to plan my errands by inputting the chain stores I'd like to go to and allow me to visualize which part of the city has branches of them all in the same vicinity.

I live in a large metropolitan area. From my home, I can easily get to many different parts of town. If I want to visit several chain stores, I'd like to see them all on one map so I can decide which part of town has them all together in the same vicinity. I think I can create a map in Google maps with layers that will do this, but is there any online map site that does this well on the fly?

Alan's Widgets has 4 locations in my city.
Belinda's Stuff 'n' Things has 6 locations.
Children R Children has 5 stores.
Don't Spend It All in One Place has 3.

How can I see these all on the same map, and see that "Oh! A, B, and C are clustered together in a neighborhood to the south. I can get three of my errands done together if I go there!" or "I really need to go to D today--what other stores on my shopping list are nearby?"

I'm not looking for something that will allow me to put in multiple addresses and navigate between them. Rather, I'm looking for something that will give me an overview of all the possible locations of stores I'd like to visit, so that I can optimize my day.
posted by QuakerMel to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yelp is OK for this, because you can, for example, look up "Barnes & Noble near Silverlake", or the like. It won't give you efficient driving directions, or suggest other stores you're not specifically searching for with this particular query*, but 3 or 4 similar searches in the same neighborhood will turn up something like a reasonable errand workflow. The benefit of using Yelp for this is that it'll alert you if a different chain (or better, a mom & pop store) that does the same thing is in the area you're looking at. For example searching "pharmacy near Beverly Hills" will get you a ton of different options, rather than having to search corporate websites for "is there a CVS?" "is there a Rite Aid?", "is there a Walgreens?" on different sites.

It's also fairly easy to triangulate some strategic Yelp searches and your pre-existing knowledge of the area. "Bed, Bath & Beyond near Chelsea" brings you to that one strip of 6th Ave in the upper teens/low 20s in NYC, which has a ton of other shopping. You can either mentally think of whether there's a Forever 21 near there, or that can act as a way of thinking about what to search for next.

*They actually used to have a couple of features that were great for this, which they got rid of, which makes me sad.
posted by Sara C. at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2016

Google Maps used to do that! No longer. Mapquest can do it but only with generic categories - see "Layers" along the top. Might still help if you do a search like Grocery and Shopping.
posted by beyond_pink at 12:14 PM on December 15, 2016

Not sure of a site or app that does this...but just in case you don't get any other good suggestions here, you can always do it by hand using Google Earth. You'd have to map out all of your stores via pins in Google Earth and then review where your best shopping clumps are. Not super efficient, but it might help.
posted by FireFountain at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2016

Coming back with another suggestion to expand on FireFountain's: you can do the same thing pretty easily with Zoom in on your area and search for a store. Then, hover over each search result on the left and click the plus sign on the right to add it to your map. You can go through this pretty quickly. Repeat with additional stores - you can even put each on its own layer if you'd like (if you create a new layer just before clicking the plus signs, they will go on that new layer automatically).

To view these places on mobile in the Google Maps app, open the menu and click "My Places." There's also a special My Maps app for Android.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:09 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

For optimum efficiency, use the "bulk add by address" feature on optimap to find clusters of stores, and then calculate the fastest round trip from your house. When you enter addresses, make sure to put in the city and state.
posted by _cave at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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