Saturday, September 15, 2007

Frank Goes Sharp Shopping - Part 2

My last post, about the Sharp Shopper Grocery Outlet was hijacked by a completely unrelated (but really cool) stop at a nearby Emu Farm.

Today we are back on topic, and getting ready to go in to the shop where I buy a lot of my groceries nowadays, the Sharp Shopper Grocery Outlet, in Cowan TN. When left off the last post, the typical Thursday morning Line/Mob/Crowd of Angry Villagers had already formed.

Here is the first thing you need to know about the Sharp Shopper. They have some Rules. These Rules are on Signs, so they don't have to go telling you the rules. The Signs are in Black lettering on a yellow background, but then again, so is everything at the Sharp Shopper. Here is the welcoming view one gets while waiting for the doors to open. (to see the large, legible, picture of the signs on the door, just click on the picture. Be sure to note that the sign advertising baby food makes a selling point of the "Good Expiration Date".)

The Doors open, and I get past the bouncer. Just Kidding! The employee who opens the door is actually a very friendly young lady who remembers my face. I was in the store several times while I was recuperating from my broken elbow, and when she sees me this morning, she asks me the same question she has asked me the last half-dozen times she's seen me: "How's your arm?"

I tell her that I'm all healed up, and enter the store. The Rules continue on the inside. (although, in fairness, they didn't make up those last Ten.)

We didn't come here for the rules, though... we came for the bargains! and here they are.

Yes, the first Aisle is the "Taco Shells, Oatmeal, Croutons, Cereal, Cookies, Tea, Candy Canes, Irons, and Jigsaw Puzzles" aisle. Honestly, why would you ever shop anywhere else?

Actually, the first section you pass is the "Health and Beauty Aids" section, frequently abbreviated "HBA", where you can find hair products, first aid items, cosmetics, and over in the bargain bin, condoms of varying expiration dates.

"Well, honey, the good news is... we can start junior's college fund with the money we saved on those condoms!"

In the corner of the store is the spot that everyone was lining up outside for. The products whose packaging has been completely destroyed in the shipping process end up here, in the bargain bin, in Ziploc bags. They are the least attractive products in a store full of unattractive products, but MAN are they cheap! Wherever possible, they clip off enough of the box to identify the product, and tape it to the bag. Where they can't even do that, they get out their big black Sharpie, and write out a label of their own!

Then just around the bend is the portion of the store I termed "Half Flea Market". I could tell you, but a picture is worth a thousand words, so.. Here ya' go!

This area of the store is the most fun, usually. Especially on a Thursday morning, you never know what might turn up here. I came in one morning to see two moms snap up the two gigantic, remote control Hummer H2's that were on these shelves. I've bought some really nice picture frames, and a clothes hamper from this section myself. However, most of what is here is complete, unadulterated junk, and the stuff that's not junk is hidden amongst so much that is junk that you have to have a treasure hunt mindset to even go near this place. This particular morning, though, was kind of disappointing. Maybe the rest of the throng snapped up all the good stuff while I was busy taking pictures of the expired laxatives. Oh well, there's always next week.

As fun as all the rest of the store is, there is one main reason I go here.... Cereal Bargains!


The Cereal Aisle is usually well stocked with great, brand-name breakfast cereal priced between 1 and 2 dollars a box. Pop-tarts (the real thing, from Kellogg's not the horrible store-brand attempts!) are usually at 75 cents per 8-count box. Thank goodness for crumpled cardboard! I can now afford the All-Pop-Tart diet preferred by 2 out of 3 nuclear-armageddon-fearing survivalists!

And I can have some Frosted Krusty-O's too, for $1.50!

It was right here, after the Cereal Aisle, that I had my Michael Moore moment. The Manager came to inform me that the employees had noticed that I was walking around taking pictures, and to ask me if I had, indeed, been taking photos around the store. I informed her enthusiastically that, yes, I had! When she asked what my purpose for taking said photos was, I told her that I had some friends who didn't live around here, with whom I wanted to share this one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Not in those exact words, but pretty close. I told her I was sorry if I had alarmed her staff, but not to worry, I wasn't spying for the competition. Her response was a quick, and a tad defensive, "We don't have any competition!" She then gave me a bit more information than I wanted about the store's ownership, and left me to go about my business.

I left the store with three bags of groceries, which cost me a whopping 11 dollars and change.
which qualified me for this special bargain on the way out.


Anonymous said...

Have you considered being a secret shopper? klc

Jeremy Gibson said...

I like a good bargain and all.... but I don't think I could eat anything from that store.
And arent expiration dates there for a reason?

Frank Gibson said...

actually if youreally look, most of the "Non-Perishable" food (which is practically all they deal in) have not "Expiration" dates, but "Best If Used Before" dates. this food is all good WELL beyond that. Most of the stuff I have gotten here is perfectly fine, see the comment below for a notable exception.

Frank Gibson said...

Funny true story about the Sharp Shopper... Beef Jerky is one of the things that I like to get there, because beef jerky stays good for a LONG time, and at the regular grocery store it is crazy expensive. However, one bag I got there was more than 13 or 14 months past it's sell by date, and it had dried to the texture of peanut brittle. It was REALLY hard and crunchy. But the folks at the SS had figured out a way to sell it anyway... Next time I went back, that particular batch was for sale in the PET FOOD section, with a sign saying "Buy your Dog some Beef Jerky; he will LOVE it!!"

That's the American Enterprising Spirit, boys and girls.