Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Savings at Big Lots

If you have a BIG LOTS near you and haven't been inside, you are missing an opportunity to save on dry and canned foods, and some other staple items. Contrary to what many people think, many of the items at Big Lots, including food, are name brand products, including US, Canadian, European and Mexican. Savings on dry goods can be 50% to 60% less than even some of the 'discount' stores like WalMart and Target.

Several categories of name brand products are available for only short durations. These include the discontinued products and the annual rotation of seasonal stock items, like Gatorade powder. If your favorite shampoo is discontinued at Walgreen's, keep checking Big Lots. It may show up there for clearance as much as 6 months later. For seasonal products, say on regular store shelves between March and September, you may find them available at a discount at Big Lots in November until it sells out.

Another category of items are the packaging changes. When crystal light changed from little plastic cups to Mylar pouches, the outgoing cup-packages were at Big Lots for about $1 under the Target price. I have seen this with other products, including when they reduce the volume of a product in essentially the same container.

Overstocks and near-expiration items can also be found there. Consumables like cereal and crackers abound, and tend to be about 50% of the WalMart price, but these are often within 6 months of their 'best by' dates. I list them because if you normally eat these products, you can use what you save to help fund your other preparations.

The last type of product that is really interesting to me are the market trials. When a new product or new variant of an old product completes a market trial, left over stock often heads to Big Lots. You may never see it again if the trial was a bust, but you can enjoy it while it is available.

Brands I have seen there over the years include most of the national coffee brands; Yogi, Good Earth, Twinnings and Bigalow Teas; Swiss Miss cocoa; Del Monte fruits and vegetables, Progresso soups; Gatorade; boutique beverages like Hansens and Jones; most national brands of cereal, crackers and cookies; Reach, Crest, Colgate and Oral B dental products; Hanes undergarments and socks; Northern paper products, most major national brands of cleaning products, etc..

So why list this on a frugal preparedness site? Some of these products are packaged to support longer-term storage. Some of the BL products in my prep stash include salmon and Danish canned hams with expiration dates in 2015, individually packaged coffee or cocoa products, crystal light, toothbrushes (I have both Reach and Oral B from BL in my storage) and a couple of really nice Nalgene bottles. Most of these items cost about half of the price at the 'discount' chains across the highway.

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