The app works at grocery stores, drug stores, carry-out restaurants, hardware stores and pet supply stores.

We’ve all heard it: “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to the store? I needed something!”

Sheldon Cohn, a resident of West Bloomfield and former advertising executive at Doner, grew tired of hearing this from family members when he came home from a quick trip to the store. It gave him an epiphany. What if his phone could let his family know when he was at the store and they could text him what they wanted?

That was four years ago, when he began work on the app “Need Anything?”, which does just that. The free app has been available since June 2019 on the app store and downloaded thousands of times, according to Cohn.

During the COVID-19 epidemic and subsequent quarantine, Cohn realized the app could be a game-changer for those concerned about elderly parents or other loved ones who can’t safely leave their homes for trips to the grocery store.

Here’s how it works: Download the free app to your phone. The app will show you the stores within 10 miles of your location. Choose your store and then go to your “contacts” to choose the people you want to notify when you walk in. Using the app, you can manually send one text message to all your contacts whenever you go to that store that reads: “Hey, I’m going to [store]. Need anything?”

Sheldon Cohn

Some stores, such as Johnny Pomodoros, have beacons set up that will automatically send the text when you walk through the door.

“With the app, mom or dad or bubbie and zaydie will get a text that you’re shopping, and they can reply with whatever they need for you to pick up, whether it be milk or toilet paper,” Cohn said. “They can stay safe at home and still get what they need.”

The app works at grocery stores, drug stores, carry-out restaurants, hardware stores and pet supply stores, as well. It takes about 4 seconds to send the alert out. The sender opens the app, presses their location, then “next” and they’re done.

Fox2 Detroit recently featured Need Anything? during its pandemic coverage, and Cohn saw a sharp spike in downloads.

“Market Square on Walnut Lake is just down from my house and the Need Anything? app makes it so easy,” said user Ellie Bittker of West Bloomfield. “I preloaded my husband and three kids and I just send one text to all of them if they need anything, which they usually do. I can just pick it up. I also use it for carry-out to help my neighbor who doesn’t go out. I pick up what we want and what she wants. It helps me, my neighbor and the restaurant. It’s a win-win.”