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Top Shipt shopper surpasses 20,000 deliveries, but always stops to make connections

Minnesota’s top Shipt shopper surpasses 20,000 deliveries
Minnesota’s top Shipt shopper surpasses 20,000 deliveries 03:34

MINNEAPOLIS — It's not unusual to find a 21-year-old who loves shopping, but one young Minneapolis woman is all about shopping for others. She's set a record in the process, all while building relationships with customers who consider her a friend.

Malaika Barlow frequently finds herself at a checkout line as a shopper for Shipt.

"My max is like 46 or 48 in a day," Barlow said.

In three years, she's gone shopping for other people 20,000 times, putting her in a unique club. WCCO's Derek James tried to keep up with her as she filled an order for a special, longtime customer. 

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"It feels like I could do it in my sleep," said Barlow. "I'd go much faster if you weren't here."

You don't become Minnesota's most preferred Shipt shopper working at a leisurely pace. Barlow was just 18 when she got her start.

"I had already graduated some college and I was actually planning on traveling, so I needed a buffer job," she said.

It's more than that now. It's a connection.

"We were made to be in community with people. People have a soul. People have a purpose in life and just really helping them see that they're looked at, they're cared for, they're loved," said Barlow.

Malaika Barlow WCCO

One of those people who is much more than a customer is Josephine Vaughn, of Minneapolis.

"Right after COVID I met her, and you could tell she was lacking physical touch," said Barlow.  

Barlow slowed down. She sat down with Vaughn, giving her time, attention, and touch.

"I gave her a hug. And she started tearing up as I hugged her and she said, 'I haven't been hugged for so long,'" said Barlow.

"It was very nice, and I always got what I needed," Vaughn said.

And she still does. Barlow gives Vaughn rides as needed and the two regularly text.

"She works her little butt off. And I've been doing that my whole life. I think that's why we get along," said Vaughn.

Their bond continues to grow, Barlow sharing a big life dream with her friend.

"My dream is to open up an orphanage in Africa, either Kenya or Mozambique. I lived there for three months last year. That's where my heart has always been. So, it's grinding out the money here to then go better the world over there," said Barlow.

Barlow has made several other connections with customers. One family asked her to babysit their kids; another gave her handmade gifts to show their appreciation.

She shops at a number of stores, including Best Buy, Cub Foods, Kowalski's, Lund's & Byerly's, Party City, Petco and Target. Her average time inside is 20 minutes.

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