Hey friends, Heidi here today.
Taft and I have a habit of talking about grocery shopping as an adventure. Just that word, adventure, sends a shiver down my spine. Anticipation. Excitement. Discovery!
We know not everyone feels that way. And that’s OK. I don’t always feel that way about shopping for clothes…
Today, we’re going to talk about the flip side of the grocery shopping adventure for a minute, to keep things in perspective. The why-did-I-drive-all-this-way-and-waste-my-time-for-nothing side.
Last week, Taft and I set out on quest to find air conditioning (because AC units always give out in the middle of a heat wave…), and we included in our route a stop at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. It was an Internet discovery, so we had little more than a handful of reviews to guide our decision.
After our first (and fantastic!) experience clearance grocery shopping at BB’s Grocery Outlet, we didn’t know what to expect. Would this be another Christmas-morning-esque surprise for our pantry and grocery budget? Or would it simply be a quick stroll through an air-conditioned store? (Even that didn’t sound all so bad.)
As we pulled into the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market parking lot, I sensed that something wasn’t quite right. Perhaps it was the splashy sign in the window advertising chicken for $1.99/lb. Around here, that’s a reasonable price, but it’s nothing special. I could walk into our local ACME (5-minute drive, not 45) and find a similar deal, especially if I watched the grocery fliers for a sale.
Still, we paused to snap a quick picture of the outside for our blog post, and we headed inside with an open mind.
We didn’t take any more pictures. In the end, we spent less than $10 on incidental grocery items at comparable prices to local stores (just to save us that 5-minute drive to ACME), checked out, and headed home.
Were their prices good? Yes, they were reasonable. Yet, they felt skewed. Signs frequently pointed out “seen elsewhere for $x.xx,” but we couldn’t help but notice that we never paid those prices, even at a regular grocery store. There are always sales!
If you’re in the habit of making a shopping list and then picking up those items, regardless of price, there’s a good chance that you could save money at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Just like any other grocery outlet, you’d want to keep in mind that the items may be close to or just past their best-by date. And selection may vary dramatically. On our one and only visit, we found very few specialty gluten-free items [insert from Taft here: I can’t remember seeing ANY], such as pasta, cookies, or crackers. Of course, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t shop for naturally gluten-free items, such as fruits and vegetables. In our case, it’s simply not worth the drive. The selection and prices aren’t compelling enough, considering our family’s grocery needs.
So if your next shopping trip is a letdown, know that you’re not alone. We still haven’t found the perfect one-stop shopping spot for our dietary needs, location, and budget, but we’re doing our best to have fun as we scout around. Sometimes our shopping trip is like the grand finale at the fireworks, and other times it’s just a… fizzle.
The good new is, we’re still shopping, we’re still eating, and we’re still enjoying the adventure of it all, ups and downs.