I believe most folks like a bargain. I believe few folks have turned that “like” into a way of life, as I have.
Perhaps growing up seeing desperate poverty in the Philippines ingrained in me a desire to “get the most for my money.” I rarely buy anything over $10 unless it’s on sale. And I’ve been doing that for years.
With the poor economy over the last five years, it seems a lot of folks have become more attuned to my way of shopping . And I don’t mean just the “big” sales such as the after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” spectacles where folks get trampled trying to rush in to the Best Buy or Wal-Mart. I’m talking the “every day” sales at grocery stores and other places where folks shop for the basics.
Before the recession, I rarely had a problem finding grocery sale items in stock. Now, it’s becoming a problem. It’s not unusual for me to go to the grocery store and find that an item on sale is “out of stock.”
Interestingly, the items that folks are snapping up run the gamut from staples to indulgences. When large eggs went on sale for 99 cents a dozen, not a carton was left when I showed up. Same for when it was BOGO (“buy one, get one free”) on large bags of M & Ms. Not a single bag of any variety (regular, peanut, almond dark chocolate) was left. Thank goodness for rain checks…
Now that I’m retired, the shopping odds have shifted in my favor because I can shop any time I want to. When I was working, I usually went grocery shopping sometime between Friday and Saturday evening. Saturday afternoon was my normal routine. Of course, by then the early birders (Thursday evening when sales begin, Friday evening and Saturday morning) had often scooped up the best deals.
Now, I can grocery shop on Tuesday morning, when most folks are at work. By then, the shelves have been restocked and most sale items are available. Also, the checkout line is much shorter. The other shoppers are typically retirees and “stay at home” moms with young kids in tow.
Being retired has been a boon for being an early bird for shopping at my favorite “indulgence” store – World Market. I first encountered this store during one of our early trips to San Francisco.
We were wandering the waterfront in the Fisherman’s Wharf / Ghirardelli Square area and decided to check out some of the more “inland” streets. I’ve traveled long enough to know that the deals are often better when you’re away from the main tourist lanes. When we came upon a huge store with “Cost Plus” in its name, I knew we had to check it out. (I was reminded of that James Bond movie where a female character is named “Pussy Galore.”)
Well, let me tell you…we brought more goodies home from World Market than anywhere else (although Chinatown’s bargains made it close). And since we had no World Market where we lived, it became a regular stop whenever we were in our second favorite city (after Vegas.).
Eventually, progress came to where I live and we do have a World Market. What I especially love about World Market is its food section. Goodies from all over the world and a nice collection of coffees and teas. (If I don’t buy my coffee online, World Market has the best “every day” price in town for the premium coffees I prefer as well as a “coffee club”for a free bag of coffee after 10 purchases.)
Unfortunately the “plus” in World Market’s prices are not anywhere close to my definition of a “bargain.” Except when they have a clearance sale, and then prices are as much as 75% off. But you had better be an early bird…quantities are very limited.
Recently, I dropped by Cucinella’s, a local wholesale bakery that sells “leftovers” to the public at amazingly low prices. Theoretically, they’re open until early afternoon but logically close when their bread sells out and that’s often by about 10 AM. They’re not open on weekends either, so I was rarely able to patronize them. Now that I’m retired….
After buying their last loaf of Herb and Garlic bread, I decided that since World Market was only about a mile down the road, I may as well see if they had any deals. At the very least, I could help myself to a sample cup of their “world” coffee. Would it be Sumatra or maybe Mocha Java? Free is a great deal….!
I was pleased to find a nice sale going on. Lots of goodies at 50%. Even better was a single rack at 75% off. By focusing on that, I filled a large World Market tote bag (which I had received free with a purchase about two years ago) with snacks for just under $10. (Math wizards have calculated that the “original” price of all those goodies was $40.)
And so what I get? Two 12-ounce bags of “freedom” (red, white and blue) tortilla chips from July 4. An eight-pack of gen-you-wine Philippine Skyflakes, often mistaken for crackers but with a taste that places them in a category of their own. A 13-ounce bag of chili and lime peanuts. Dark chocolate covered coconut patties. Two packages of “Choco-cool” biscuits with coconut filling and chocolate from Poland.
And two goodies from my youth. First, a bottle of calamansi juice, the Philippine lemonade. (Calamansi juice is as ubiquitous in the Philippines as iced tea is in the South…in other words, it’s everywhere.) Second, an American treat: a canister of “hot” Pik-Nik shoestring potatoes. I rarely see Pik-Nik in stores, but I’m thinking of ordering online from their website.
Retirement is already…”paying off!”