Today, I went to a store my sister, Violet, had told me about already for years... It's not so close by- took over an hour each way to get there (2 buses and a train each way)- which is why I haven't made it there until today... But I had heard wonderful things about it.
This store is called "The Burnt", so I always assumed it was called that because items in that store had come from stores that burnt down, and therefore the items were cheaper, but that's not the case... I have no idea why it's called that, however...
I'd first heard of this store when my Violet, who was shopping there, called me up and asked me if I wanted her to buy me a bunch of bottles of apple cider vinegar- since she saw it being sold for $1.60 a bottle, when it usually costs $3.45 a bottle locally. Of course I told her yes, and that's what I'd been using for apple cider vinegar for a few months- and once I ran out, it hurt to pay full price for it once again. (I use apple cider vinegar in most recipes that call for vinegar, as I don't use synthetic vinegar, wine vinegar is more expensive and too strong of a flavor, and rice vinegar is also much more expensive than apple cider vinegar. I use kombucha vinegar sometimes though.)
So I decided to make a trek there, to hopefully get more cheap apple cider vinegar, among other things. Only Violet told me it wouldn't be so simple. There was a good chance that I wouldn't find any apple cider vinegar there, good price or not.
This store is a "scratch and dent" type store, aka a "discount and salvage" grocery store. What that means is- lets say you have a store or a factory, and some of your products get their packaging ruined. Or they're nearing their expiration date. Or you have overstocks on a certain item. Most people won't want to buy them- people are "shallow" generally, in that they like pretty things, pretty boxes, and pretty packaging, even if the item inside is exactly the same.
If your boxes of Oreos got banged up, so they no longer have crisp edges and corners, or your cans get wet and the labels ruined, what do you do with them? You can't put them on the shelves in the grocery store- people won't buy them. No, you pass them on to a "Scratch and dent" or "discount and salvage" type store, who sells them for rock bottom prices because they aren't visually appealing.
Because of how "the burnt store" gets its products, its always a gamble when you go there. They have some groceries- but not a huge selection, as well as craft supplies, household items, toys, clothing, etc... but their selection is constantly changing.
When I got to the store today, the phrase "Don't judge a book by its cover" was going through my head repeatedly. Because that's what the store is. If you want fancy packaging, pristine condition, you won't get that. But you also won't get high prices. Would you rather pay twice to five times the price for a box or bottle that looks prettier, or would you rather get the same quality item for much cheaper, even if the packaging leaves a lot to be desired?
Obviously, I choose the second, and recommend that you do too. (Unless you're giving a food item as a gift. In which case- choose the prettier packaging and pay the higher price.)
So, no, I didn't find any apple cider vinegar. But I did end up coming home with a stroller loaded to the brim with cheap cheap groceries, as well as a few non grocery items.
I hate to admit it, but I rarely have energy to make breakfast in the morning, and my kids, more often than not, eat cereal. And unfortunately, because of cost, the cereal they end up eating often is pure junk, with far too many ingredients than I care for them to be eating, lots of bad stuff in them...
So... when I saw corn flakes at the "burnt store" for really cheap- I took a closer look at them. It was a brand I liked buying, if not for the cost. No, they aren't completely healthy- they do have sugar, and they do have vegetable oils... but they are gluten free (unlike most cereals) and have 5 ingredients only- corn, sugar, oil, salt, paprika extract. Definitely much better than the typical boxed cereal. And while this type of cereal usually goes for $5.70 a box or more (cereal is a fortune where I live), these were going for $1.42 a box... So I bought 12.
They had giant 6.5 lb cans of peas, as well as cans that size of sauerkraut and canned pickled turnips. Since a small can of peas goes for $1.40 regularly in my area, and the 6.5 lb can was being sold for $2.80, I got two... I decided to try out a can of canned pickled turnips, for another $2.80- I bet we'll like it since we're pickle fans. In the end, I didn't go for the sauerkraut, since it was $4.28, and when I eat sauerkraut, I like to get the nutritional and digestion benefits of lacto-fermentation....
As much as I know fresh lemon juice is best in terms of health, I do end up using bottled lemon juice quite often, because I don't have the energy to always squeeze fresh lemon juice, especially if I need larger amounts, so I keep a stock of bottled lemon juice, which costs $1.42 for a quart. At the "burnt store" I found gallon jugs of lemon juice $2.14 a jug, so bought two.
We use grape juice and wine on a semi regular basis in our home, and though I try to make my own from scratch, I was in my first trimester this past summer and really wasn't feeling well, so wasn't able to make a large amount, and we pretty much ran out of the stock that I made this summer... so I've been buying wine and grape juice from the grocery store. Usually the 1.5 quart bottles of grape juice sell for around $5.70 a bottle- I bought 3 1.5 quart bottles for $3.42 each. I also bought 1 bottle of a fancier wine for $5.70, when fancier wines typically go for more than 10 dollars a bottle...
There were some other really cheap groceries there, but gluten filled, so I skipped them...
There were some other cheap items there, like cheapo dish soap and disposable pans, etc... but I didn't need any, and there were kids' toys, which, honestly, weren't the cheapest price I've seen for them (there are many discount stores for such items in my area). However, I did end up getting the kids 2 packages of imitation Clics- since its a toy that they really like but I can't afford to buy usually since they are so expensive- and paid $8.50 for them, and will be saving them up for a special occasion to give to my kids. Maybe I could have found similar pricing elsewhere- who knows... But either way, it wasn't too expensive.
I also bought some Happy Birthday candles, since its my and my husband's birthday later this month, as well as a bunch of cheap yellow pencils, chalk, and a book for my kids in our local language that I'm trying to teach them.
Lastly... My kids hate taking baths/showers. They especially hate washing their hair. They love Spiderman and Ben 10 (I have no idea how they even knew about them, since it's not like I actually show them those videos)- my 4 year old is actually OBSESSED with Ben 10. I saw sets of shampoo/conditioner/body wash, for $2.80 each, one with Spiderman on each bottle, and one with Ben 10 on each bottle. Totally unnecessary, and not the absolute cheapest I could get for these things, but not expensive either... but if it will get the kids excited for bath time and more willing to wash their hair, it'll be worth it...
Anyhow, as I was walking through the aisles, it was so tempting to buy EVERYTHING there, such as a rainbow loom set, cheap makeup, spill proof containers, crayons, etc...- such a store, you can't come in with a prepared shopping list- you have to just see what there is... and have self control to actually only spend on what you'll use, what you need, and not just "buy it because it's cheap". An important frugality lesson to remember in such a store is- buying something CHEAP is still more expensive than buying NOTHING. You don't "save money" by buying something cheaper than its usual price if the alternative is simply not buying. Its only saving money if you buy something you would have bought anyhow, at a cheaper price than you would usually pay for it.
I only suggest going to such a store with a limited amount of cash if you are an impulse shopper....
I plan on going back on a semi regular basis, to see what stock they get in next... And I found out that they have a closer location, that'll make it easier for me to get to!
Either way- scratch and dent or salvage stores are definitely worthwhile places to shop, because they'll save you a lot of money if you shop wisely, and remember to not judge a book by its cover. Use google to find where the nearest ones are in your area. (I did find this list of some around the country, but its from 2008, so is not so up to date...)
Have you ever shopped at a salvage store/scratch and dent store? What has your experience been like? Do you shop there regularly? How much money have you saved by shopping at salvage stores?