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Aug 17, 2013 02:01 PM

Strategies at Grocery Outlet?

I previously had never heard of this chain. There is a new store in our area, and I'm going on Monday. I've heard they mostly have close-outs or discontinued products or close-to-expiration products. Other strategies for shopping/buying from there?

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  1. Here's a recent topic on Grocery Outlet:

    The SF Bay Area board has a monthly topic about what good stuff people are finding at various stores. I think the LA board may have some similar topics.

    For your first visit, give yourself time to thoroughly browse the store and see what looks good. It's not a great place to go if you are in a hurry or if you need to get specific items. It's more like a treasure hunt.

    In California they can sell wine and beer, there is a blogger who updates on recent good finds.

    Some locations are franchises (individually owned and operated) so while they get their inventories from a central warehouse, different stores may have different items. They also carry non-food items like small kitchen ware and cleaning products.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pamf

      Thanks for that link--don't know how I missed it when I searched.

      Guess I'll have to go with a blank shopping list and just rely on serendipity.

      1. re: pamf

        <<<It's more like a treasure hunt.>>>

        Exactly, you don't always find treasure but when you do it can be a great bargain.

      2. When grocery Outlet opened in Chula Vista (South San Diego) more than 20 years ago, it had the sub-titled label "Canned Food Store" on it's signage. The first time we shopped there, we realized it sold much more.

        There are many 'test market' items which have been produced and don't make it to regular stores (refrigerated Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage dipped in blueberry pancake -on a stick- in 1999 comes to mind)

        Overstocks of packaging (an inordinate number of Wheaties boxes with Kristi Yamaguchi were always sold there throughout 1993(she won in 1992).

        Mislabeled packaging (Many many things sold there before and currently have a nutrition label slapped over the original label...or a "contains ____" (whatever allergen) added onto the package. I've seen corrected cooking instructions and quite a few "does not meet our standards of appearance of final food product").

        One time they were selling (new to me) Pepperidge Farm frozen garlic bread- and it turned out each loaf was upside down in each box. Another time, when they first started making that Pillsbury sugar cookie dough that has a design embedded inside each cookie (it was the one pound package of cookie dough you had to slice yourself), the designs were skewed and imperfect...Christmas trees that looked like they were blowing in the wind-but the package was 75ยข, ha an expiration date of April and they tasted good.

        I have found that if you are curious, buy something and try it immediately and then go back and buy more the next day, because you may never see it again.

        1. Here's an article in today's Business section:

          Pretty much it's stating that the inventory changes rapidly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Cathy

            Thanks--I saw that article, too. Went to the new store yesterday. Only bought about $30 of stuff, only brands that I knew. Lots of things were indeed close to their expiration dates, but King Arthur flour hardly "expires" in a bad way, plus I'll be using it soon for bread. I'll go back, but not on a regular basis, I guess.

            1. re: pine time

              My weekly routine starts at G.O. I see if there are any new protein bars, crackers, cheese, juice, dried fruit, refried beans, canned items, sausages, wine, tortillas, pretzels, milk, frozen treats and the occasional beauty product. All of the stores except for Berkeley and Oakland are franchises. (My hubby used to work for them)
              Always check the expiration date, especially on perishable items. Just today I picked up 3 pkgs of New York Style Sausage Co. Mild Sheboygan Bratwurst Grillers (5 pk: $2.99), 2 pkgs of their Louisiana Brand Hot Links (3 large: $2.69), Orowheat 6 pk Whole Grain Hot Dog buns($1.99) Francisco Sourdough 6 pk rolls ($2.99)and a tub of Tillamook light sour cream ($.99) Total: $20.32 for a lovely lunch with friends.

          2. Wednesdays are good days to go. If there are especially good buys in the ad, they will be gone FAST. Meat selection and produce tend to be good then too.
            Many items are standard across the chain, and then the stores order according to their clientele.
            We have a store in Grants Pass and one in Medford. The GP store, while physically larger, is much more pedestrian in the items stocked while the Medford buyers seem to go for many ethnic and
            exotic ingredients and items. Wonderful cheeses and wines.

            1. i am familiar with Grocery Outlet in greater Portland OR.

              it's odd - yes.
              I like it - yes
              friendly service - yes
              interesting inventory - yes

              i have bought everything from cheap LED Xmas lights to wine. It's all there.

              don't forget - isn't this how Trader Joe's started out? dented cans etc?