Savvy scavengers can save at the salvage grocery store

If you like searching for deals at the dollar stores, maybe it is time to take it to the next level. I recently saw a news story about the growth of sales at salvage grocery stores which take unsaleble stock from traditional stores to sell at a reduced price. I always like the idea of a bargain, so I decided to check one out for myself.

First thing I noticed is that it is not convenient to shop this way. The store closest to my house is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I had to drive to a rural town (population: 3,000) to find an open store. Situated on the one and only main drag, the store looked a smaller version of your typical small town supermarket.


Inside was well organized, but with a limited (and eclectic) selection of items that have seen better days. Items were various states of distress: dented, stained, taped together, dusty, open, or crumpled. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there was soup oozing out of the cans or anything! Salvage stores are regulated and inspected; however, expiration dates offered by manufacturers don’t seem to be a concern. I bought some Lime Jello mix with an expiration date of November 18, 2007. Curious, I made and served the Jello after dinner last night (so far so good!) All of the other items I purchased had expiration dates sometime in the future.

So, is putting up with the shabbiness worth it?

That comes to about a 60% savings. I have to admit that when I did the calculation, the dings and dents didn’t look quite so bad! I would certainly recommend following a few rules when shopping salvage such as:

1. Plan your trip because stores have odd hours.
2. Don’t buy stuff you wouldn’t normally buy anyway.
3. Check the expiration dates.
4. Wear your rose-colored glasses.

But with those things in mind, savvy scavengers can find some exceptional bargains.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.