Monday, February 4, 2013

Mennonite Stores

No, they aren't named this. But they are out there. On my recent trip to western Montana, my friends took me to two groceries that are operated by Mennonite families.  The first had an incredible array of real food. Not processed and not expensive. You could buy in bulk or prepackaged. They had spices, lots of dry items including grains, pastas, beans, flours with amazing diversity.  They are also a full-service grocery, so had fresh meat and vegetables. Other practical items for sewing and housekeeping were on the shelves. The store we visited (and shopped like mad-women) also had a vast assortment of local preserves (including pickled vegies and eggs!!), jellies and jams.  The jams were the kind with a short ingredient lists, like "fruit, sugar, pectin, lemon juice."

My friends referred to the other store as 'the bent-can store." Most of the items weren't in bent cans, but appeared to be odd lots of higher-end products that were really heavily discounted. A few were a slightly past their 'best by' date, but most weren't.  So here were some of the weird bargains we found: Folger's instant coffee at 50% of the grocery store cost, Altoids at 40% of the cost,  3.5 ounce Lindt and Godiva chocolate bars for 99 cents, organic peanut butter 18 ounce jars (ingredients: peanuts and salt) for $1.59 (about 60% of Kroger price). They also had fresh items, like 2 lb rolls of fresh butter (ingredients: cream, salt -- no salt in the unsalted, of course!) for $8. If you live in a community in areas with a Mennonite presence, see if there are shops like this near you. They offer good merchandise at a reasonable cost and are usually members of your local community -- good for keeping your shopping $$ in your area.  They also had resale of a few lightly used items like shoes and jackets. My brother found a pair of shoes with almost no wear that he recognized - about $90 retail on resale for $5.

If you are not familiar with the Mennonites, they are a Christian denomination that broke away during the time of the Protestant reformation (1525, Switzerland), but embrace beliefs from both the Catholics and Protestants. They believe in adult baptism. FYI, the Amish broke away from the Mennonites in the 1600's by those who considered the Mennonites to be too liberal.

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