Got any ideas how to save small-town grocery stores?

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Old 07-26-09, 09:36 AM
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Got any ideas how to save small-town grocery stores?

Actually, I should start with a grocery store down in the University area. They went under. Walmart plus ginormous grocery stores in town, caused it.

Then we have a grocery store in a bedroom community 9 miles away. They went under. The store is still there - just vacant. Been that way for years. Again, only about 9 miles to super Walmart. Yet, just down the road they have this Mennonite bulk barn store and they do one heck of a business. So obviously, someone knows how to run something, while someone else does not. Yet, no takers on that in-town grocery store that has a building and parking lot that looks sizeable and nice.

Another small town grocery store has had to scale back it's hours. And they employee high school kids that could give a rat's you-know-what to how the store does.

I've often thought how wasteful it must be for grocery stores to have to have all that a/c going in the store and have all those coolers going. I bet the energy bill is absolutely gigantic.

So I had this one little idea of say if say one of those small stores that can't compete were to say go geo-thermal and also suck in cold winter air, pumping that into coolers, you'd think they could save big time. (i.de., think of people who put their beer or ? in the snow outside the back door) Could you imagine if this were done in Alaska? (If they already do do something like this, it be new to me.) They'd have no energy bill (relatively speaking).

But even up where I live, it's like we have 6 months of cold weather here to take advantage of. And besides cooling the coolers, they could a/c the store for at least some of the year just with outside air (in the way how I have found to draw in lots of cool air and exhasut the warm stale air, in that facility I help take care of, by doing certain things with the A/H units.) And if they had geo-thermal heat source besides, you'd think they could save throughout the year.

Any comments on this so far? And do you have any ideas and/or undrstand the grocery business to offer floundering small grocers some tips?

I've often been tempted to try to buy such a venture as a greenhorn, to see if I could pull it off, for a challenge.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 02:54 PM
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I've read this post over and over, and can't come up with a solution. You can't stop Wally world from coming in and undercutting prices for a short period until all the mom and pops are gone, then raise the prices. It's their way of business.
I like our small town. Come to the intersection and you have to go 10 miles in each direction to buy groceries, lumber, even get gas. But I'm fine with the small grocery store that over charges for bread and stuff. Hey it's called a "convenience" store for a reason. They don't have it all, and they know it. They have what you need, and know that, too. So it's fair. Our local meat market is probably $1 or so higher per pound on some meat cuts. So what? It's a better cut, it's local, and the money stays local, not going to some home office in Winston Salem, or Topeka.
I feel better, thanks.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 03:59 PM
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Well, no local grocery stores here...all national or regional chains. Closest we have is a meat market run by a Hungarian guy...all grass fed no suplement beef, all hand cut to order and hand made sausage, salami's, etc. Man I love the smell when you walk in..and there is a window into the cutting room...we're in AZ not CA..so no protesters...lol.

Only problem is the price..$18/lb for ribeye steaks...ouch ouch. Did it once..yes..they were good , but 2X the price good...no.

Wish I still lived in the small OH town with the butcher at the local village market who did his own ordering from the local slaughter house (where I pulled hides for 2 days once). No more than the prepackaged stuff at the "super" market..and much better. Of course that was 35 yrs ago..so maybe the guy here is just the same.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 04:18 PM
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Chandler,

I'll bet your grocer has not near the heat bill as here. I think that if someone masterminded cutting overhead, then maybe they could compete more. Maybe they should have thought ahead of time and built the store like an earth berm house.

Gunguy,

Filet Mignon's are cheaper here than that.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post

Only problem is the price..$18/lb for ribeye steaks...ouch ouch. Did it once..yes..they were good , but 2X the price good...no.

.
dang. You think that is expensive, try this on for size:

and it is even on a half price sale

btw; yes, this is for 1 16 oz. steak.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 07:17 PM
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I am sure our grocer is not doing this, but I talked to a HVAC guy the other day, and he says some larger grocery chains are capturing the heat generated by their food cooling and freezing units to heat their building in the winter. Sounds feasible, and economical.
Golly, Nap, I just wouldn't have the gumption to even put it on the grill! I'd have to catch all the drippings to season my green beans with. Who can afford stuff like that? Apparently someone is, since they are still in business.
GG, Rib eyes are about $13/lb here. Filets $18/lb. My hamburger, about $2.85/lb.
 
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Old 07-28-09, 07:40 PM
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Well when you guys are on Social Security you will understand loyalty to a store can loose priority. I have a non-chain supermarket a block from my house I have shoped there since '75 but now that I'm on SS I have plenty of time to shop other stores too. Third Wednesday of the month it's off to the salvage grocery store. Ever shopped one of those. It can be truly fun. Things you never imagined existed that regular stores couldn't sell. Thursday it's HEB for cheap meat. Pork loon roast at $1/lb. This month I got one 21" long for $10.75. Cut it in to 3 pieces 7" long. Each one enough for 4 or 5 days of meals. Ok I'm starting to ramble about new hobby, what are prehistoric ancestors called hunting and gathering.
 
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Old 07-29-09, 03:35 AM
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=ray2047;1599426] Pork loon roast at $1/lb.

would that be what you would get if the pig had some disease like mad cow disease? Their brain is gone so they go a bit "looney".


Your escapades at the salvage grocery store remind me of a scene in "Look Who's Talking" where there is this dream scene and John Travolta's character has a can of unknown contents. Something such as "an adventure in every can" or some such humorous comment.
 
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Old 07-29-09, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
I am sure our grocer is not doing this, but I talked to a HVAC guy the other day, and he says some larger grocery chains are capturing the heat generated by their food cooling and freezing units to heat their building in the winter.
Hmmm. I actually thought of that a long time ago, but disregarded my thought, thinking the heat already exhausted into the building, via the condensor coils. (Which creates positive heat gain, even if freezer doors are opened up repeatedly) Hmmm. Maybe they have/had all those coolers rigged so the heat was going out the building instead, so they could keep the store cooler? Hmmmmm.
 
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Old 07-29-09, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Thursday it's HEB for cheap meat.
I used to shop there once, along time ago. That be something, if it was the same store.

To all - And somewheres around this area, I have heard either the Amish or Mennonites have this store where they sell can goods cheap where the cans are dented.
 
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Old 07-29-09, 11:30 AM
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I live in a small town which has one grocery store. Most people I know drive 15-45 miles to neighboring communties to shop at Kroger or Wally World. I'm a single guy who eats out at least once a day, so I don't buy a lot of groceries, but even I can tell our local mom & pop store charges a lot more for about everything they carry. And I don't mean just a few pennies. Its more like 25% more on everything. They employ high school kids as checkers, which I admire them for doing, EXCEPT that when you're buying beer along with your groceries, the whole line is held up while they find the ONE store employee over 18 years of age that can ring up the beer. In frustration, I've had some teenage clerks ask me to shove my beer over the scanner for them. All the while, customers are lining up behind me, getting impatient. I, like most of my neighbors, have discovered that the cost of gasoline to drive to a larger neighboring community can be easily recovered by the savings on our groceries. Plus, the bigger stores offer a host of other one-stop services, such as postal services, video rentals, a REAL salad bar (not just lettuce and dressing), as well as bedding plants, etc. Our local mom & pop store is trying to fill a void....as a smaller grocery store sized between a convenience store and the huge megamarkets, but it doesn't appear to be working well. The mom & pop stores seem to serve the elderly who physically can't drive far or the working poor who can't afford to drive out of town. The rest of us want the "do it all at once place" concept of the out of town megastores.
 
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Old 07-29-09, 01:22 PM
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There is a BJ's wholesale club across the street from my work which is 20 miles from home. About 90% of my food comes from there. There is a very small chain next exit up the highway from me that I go to for emergency food, like an Italian bread and cold cuts for a sub.


Off topic but great grinder-sub-hoagie recipe

1 Italian bread
1.5 lbs deli roast beef
3/4 pound sliced Mozzarella
1 8 oz bottle Italian dressing

Preheat stove to 350 degrees. Slice bread in half lenghtwise. Open up the bread and drizzle on the dressing. Make layers of beef and cheese. Close up sandwich and put onto a pan covered with tinfoil sprayed with cooking spray ( makes pan nonstick and no cleanup). Stick sub into oven for 15 minutes. Yummers. This will fill 2 starving men after a blood donation.
 
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Old 08-22-09, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
..... the Amish or Mennonites have this store where they sell can goods cheap where the cans are dented.
that's a health risk i wouldn't take, no matter the discount. dented cans are a bad idea - it's possible that air has gotten in & the food could've gone bad. never buy dented cans on purpose. and if you drop a can & dent it, open it & use it right away.
 
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Old 08-23-09, 12:38 PM
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Are you sure about this? As wary as I am over getting dented cans for the reasons you state, I figure they must be okay since even one of the most popular large city grocery stores in town has a lot of dented cans. You'd think the health dept. be on them for that. We have a large picky health dept. here.

I try not to buy them, regardless. But if I do get one and find it dented at home, I make sure the dent is in the middle, with no puncture, and not dented at the rim area where you'd think that is where there could really be trouble.

In my life, so far, I have had 2 stored cans in the cupboard swell and have the paper labels start turning black. I figured bochulism.
 
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Old 08-24-09, 08:58 AM
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Salvage groceries

I think a salvage department in a mom & pop grocery store might be the best possible way for them to stay in business.

I've been shopping at the Amish salvage stores for several years, and have never had a problem with anything I bought.

The advantage of salvage groceries is that they usually cost only 20-40% of what you'd pay in the big chain stores. The biggest disadvantage is that they don't maintain a regular stock. You never know what they'll have. You buy the bargains that you know you'll use, and do the rest of your shopping elsewhere.

A salvage department in a small grocery store would draw a lot of customers, and they would more than likely buy a large part of the rest of their groceries while there. The savings on the salvage goods would make up for the difference in price on stocked items.
 
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Old 08-24-09, 09:27 AM
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dented cans

A dent in a can does not cause the food inside to spoil. Only a breach in the can could allow air to enter and cause spoilage, and that is easy enough to detect that it shouldn't be a problem.

Canned foods, whether commercially or home canned, are vacuum packed. The contents are heated under pressure causing them to expand, and air is forced from the container before it is sealed. When the contents cool, a vacuum is created. If the container has been compromised, air can enter, breaking the vacuum.

If you tap the top of a good can with a spoon, you'll hear a sharp metallic "ding." If the vacuum has been broken, you'll hear sort of a hollow popping sound.

Also, the hiss you hear when you start to open a can is caused by air being drawn into the vacuum. As long as you hear that "hiss" when you open the can, the seal is intact.

For years, I pressure canned most of our food--fruits, vegetables and meat. I always let the filled canning jars sit on the counter for about 3 days, then checked to be sure the seals were intact before putting them away. If for any reason the seal has been compromised or the contents are spoiling, there will be enough bacterial growth in 3 days to refill the jar (or can) with gases, eliminating the vacuum.

Because of the time involved in warehousing and shipping, any can that isn't airtight should be easy to spot before you buy.

To be safe, when I buy salvage canned goods, I don't use them that week.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Annette View Post
that's a health risk i wouldn't take, no matter the discount. dented cans are a bad idea - it's possible that air has gotten in & the food could've gone bad. never buy dented cans on purpose. and if you drop a can & dent it, open it & use it right away.
Me too. Even if they sell it at 50% less, I wouldn't dare buy them. There will be a higher price to pay after all those saving. Better safe than sorry.
 
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