If you've never been in a surplus store before, going in for the first time can be a little over- whelming. It's not all pretty and neat like a regular grocery store, on the shelves sit dented cans and broken boxes. Maybe to you it hardly looks like a place to shop! Take your time. Look around at everything, and even when you think you've seen everything in the store if you go around again, it will be different.
Google defines a surplus store as: A surplus store sells items that are used, or purchased but unused, and no longer needed.
I find this statement to be the exact opposite! The items in a surplus store are new and they are needed, you need them! Most of the groceries come from stores or from warehouses. Maybe the warehouse dropped a pallet while stacking it. The cans inside got dirty and they couldn't be sold in a regular store so those pallets get sold to a surplus store. There is generally nothing wrong with the items. They will never be a recalled product, those get destroyed not sent to another store.
What about a dented can? Aren't those dangerous? Most of the time the answer is no. Look at the cans before you put them in your cart. Did the dent in the can go all the way through the metal? Does the top or bottom of the can pop when you push on it? If the can appears to be leaking in any way or is severely dented, don't buy it. A small dent (or even a large one) is usually fine as long as it hasn't "cracked" the can.
What about out-of-date items? Well let me ask you this...when was the last time you went through your entire pantry or medicine cabinet and checked out the dates of each thing before you used it? If you're like me, probably never. We eat outdated things all the time and never give it a second thought. Most items last for long after the date on the box or can is past. Canned items last for years. Crackers and chips are good for months. Check the date before you buy it, if it seems a reasonable amount of time go ahead and get it. Usually out-dated items are even cheaper than regular surplus store prices so the cost is next to nothing.
I encourage you in the next week to scout out and visit your local surplus stores. They may be right around the corner and you didn't even know it! Take your time, scan the shelves. Visit them often, their inventory will change all the time so if there is something there that you might use in the future, get it. I can't make it to all the surplus stores in my area all the time so when I do get to them I stock up on things I know I will use soon. I also buy things for my family members that have even less time to shop there as I do.( And besides its so much fun to have someone to show your finds to!)
Have any tips you've learned from surplus store shopping? Post them in the comments!
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