Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bargain Shopping at Grocery Outlet

I love a good deal, so you'll frequently find me perusing the wares at garage sales, thrift shops and outlet stores (not to mention sale racks!). Bargain hunting might as well be called "treasure hunting," as far as I'm concerned. Nothing beats the thrill of finding a long out-of-print copy of Better Than Store Bought cookbook, a discarded Moulinex meat grinder, or Santander chocolate priced to move (all things I've scored). Actually, the thrill is in just the possibility of finding something, which is exactly why I like shopping at Grocery Outlet.

Grocery Outlet buys closeouts and discontinued items so you never know what they will have. Unlike similar stores, they focus on quality brands and they have just about everything you'd find at a regular supermarket, including some organic produce. Sometimes you can figure it out why the product ended up there, because the size or the packaging gives it away. It might be something that was packaged for food service or a big box store. Or it might have been a seasonal promotion or flavor.

As you can imagine, each product has a story to tell, on an insider tour I learned why a terrific wine ended up being sold at a bargain price (a bank note was due and the winery needed cash) why an expensive beauty product ended up being discounted (the packaging changed and they needed to reduce inventory), why some fancy imported cookies were available (an order was cancelled after the shipment had already left Germany for the US) and why an adorable stuffed toy was being cleared out (a typo on the label). Prices vary but are often discounted 50% or more.

I also learned that Grocery Outlet is a third generation family owned company and that each store is independently operated and very involved in the local community. Employees even participated in a "hunger challenge" style effort to experience what it was like to live on a food stamps budget.

Here are some the excellent finds from my most recent shopping trip:

Baby Romaine? title=
Ok, so clearly this is NOT Baby Romaine! But who cares? It's an organic salad mix for an unbeatable price.

Oikos
Greek yogurt. This stuff normally sells for $1.65 each at my local supermarket, and here it was 2 for a dollar!

Thomas' English Muffins
Thomas' English Muffins really are the best you can find at any supermarket as far as I'm concerned, and $2.49 a pack is a steal.

Numi tea
I am crazy about Numi's puerh tea! Even with a coupon I can't get it this cheap.

Terra chips
Not on my usual shopping list, but how could I resist Terra Chips with Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic and Parmesan and for only $1.99 a bag? They are delicious by the way.

mascarpone
I'm guessing the new name "mascarpone fresca" is what caused this to end up discounted from what the regular price $5.49 to only $1.99 (is it just me or does mascarpone sounds like the name of an Italian crime syndicate?) All that really matters is that the price is amazing for this luscious ingredient necessary for tiramisu. It's not on my regular shopping list, but like I say, I can't resist a bargain...

My thanks to Grocery Outlet for giving me a tour, introducing me to your buyers, sharing your stories and for giving me a gift card. (It will probably come as no surprise that I spent much more of my own money because I found so many good deals!)
What's the best closeout you've found or store where do you routinely find them?