I don’t know what kind of discount/ scratch and dent stores you guys have in your neck of the woods. We have 3 within 25 miles of us. 2 of them are owned by the same people and they get overstocks, local stuff, and damaged goods. The other one is considered a bulk foods store.
The damaged goods are things that were in a truck that lost its load or was in an accident. These items cannot be sold in regular stores but are perfectly fine. The boxes may be damaged slightly. Sometimes, for example, one end of a case box has been smashed but the other end is perfectly fine, including the goods inside! These stores sort out the good from the bad and the ugly. The good stuff (undamaged and in date) are priced similarly to the supermarket. The bad (open packages or spoiled) are thrown out. The ugly (damaged packaging but content is fine) are priced at reduced prices.
Overstock items might be produce that needs eaten very soon or other items that are nearly out of date or just expired that a supermarket may have ordered too much of. Many foods are fine past their expiration date (for a period of time depending on the food). Example: yogurt, snack cakes, candy, cereal, crackers, soda, drink mixes, etc. Because their shelf-life is so short the prices are greatly reduced. I bought a wonderful pineapple last winter for .99- they are usually 3.99 around here!
As for locally produced products, well that would depend on where you live of course. We have a lot of amish in our community and so there are often hand-crafted items like baby clothes, embroidered stuff, quilts, etc. We also have a pretty wide variety of home remedy products too. We also have a popcorn plant in our area, many meat processing plants, a cheese factory, and the oldest working water-powered grist mill. So popcorn and specialty products relating to it are available at these stores. The grist mill produces several types of flour, buckwheat, and hearts of wheat cereal (like cream of wheat- gone whole grain).
The bulk foods store carries products just like the overstocks store but also stocks flours, sugars, whole grains, nuts, dried fruit, bakery mixes, tea, cheese, noodles, spices, nut butters, etc. Most of these items come to the store in bulk and are packaged on the premises and priced by the pound or ounce.
So not only can you find good deals on things you buy at the supermarket, you might also find that particular ingredient to some specialty recipe or some health food that you have been wanting to add to your diet!
Let me tell you about my bargains I got today at the overstock store. I’ll put my guess at regular grocery store prices for my area in parentheses.
- Keebler cookies 1.49, (2/$4 -regular sale price)
- Cheezits large box 1.49, (2.69)
- 100 count bandaids 1.29, (1.99- 2.50)
- Poptarts .99, (2/$4)
- evaporated milk .69, (1.29)
- oyster crackers .99, (1.29)
- multipack box of Club crackers w/ cheese sandwich crackers 2.50, (3.49)
- Kashi individual bars 4/$1 (.75- 1.29)
These were all in date. Some packages were crushed so you had to dig for decent looking stuff for part of it but I thought I found some real deals today! If you have a discount grocery in your areas, I challenge you to be brave and check it out!!
To shop successfully at these stores you have to know what you pay at the supermarket. This comes with practice or you could just go to the supermarket some time and take notes of regular cost of things you buy often, things you buy generic but love name brand, etc. Keep these notes with you when you shop the discount store. You also want to know about dented cans. Cans that have sharp dents or creases, bulges, or give slightly when squeezed should not be purchased. They may have slight holes in the metal that may have allowed bacteria in. Also familiarize yourself with where to look for the expiration date on products and how to read them. Each manufacturere does it slightly different. The inventory at these stores is constantly changing so putting them on your calendar for a regular periodic visit would be a good idea.