SHERIDAN — With an open mind toward shelf life, Thrifty Foods Bargain Market brings East and West Coast-style shopping to Sheridan, offering its customers lower-than-market prices.
The small grocery store sits near the corner of 10th and North Main streets and Linette Dunning, who owns the store with her husband JC, said that the store is stocked with products they buy from warehouses all over the U.S. She said that because the items are overstock or returns they’re able to mark the prices 60 percent lower than other stores.
The store’s stock includes goods that are past their “best buy” date, which is sometimes confused with an expiration date. While some may be skeptical of buying food after the posted date, Thrifty Foods employee Laura Holsinger said the date is often just a way for the manufacturers to make money.
“Oftentimes the ‘best use’ date is because that’s what the manufacturers put on their stock so that they have to keep buying things,” Holsinger said.
“So oftentimes things are still good well past their best use date,” she said.
Just because they believe in a longer shelf life doesn’t mean that Thrifty Foods keeps the same stock forever; Holsinger said that shelves are frequently stocked and rotated. She said after a certain amount of time, which can be longer for some products with a complete seal such as canned goods, products are put into the equivalent of a bargain bin with even lower prices. If the product still doesn’t sell, it’s discarded.
Dunning said she and her husband loved shopping at these types of stores while living on the West Coast and that bargain stores are mainstream on both coasts but have yet to make their way to the middle of the country.
They decided to open Thrifty Foods in September 2016 as a way to make a livelihood after the downturn of the mining industry devastated another of their businesses.
While North Main Street wasn’t their first choice in location, she said open retail space in Sheridan is limited and the response from the community has been encouraging.
“Customers are really happy to have a store on this end of town again,” Dunning said, explaining that customers also like the smaller setup of the store. She added, “so it’s easy to run in and grab a couple items and be out in two seconds.”
There’s no order form the store fills out for its merchandise, it just gets shipments of up to 1,300 banana boxes filled with goods for the staff to sort through and price. This makes both stocking and shopping a surprise every day.
Thrifty Foods employee Ann Ernst said this also allows the store to get international products that may not be available at larger retailers. For example, last week the store was preparing to stock cookies from Italy.
While this grab-bag type of stocking may be a less consistent grocery shopping experience, the store tries to always keep the staples stocked and Ernst said that so far customers have enjoyed the mix of inventory.
“That’s what makes it fun,” Ernst said. “They might buy it one time but next time they’re in they’ll see something completely different.”
By Chelsea Coli|January 3rd, 2017