When I say “outlet store”, what do you think of? A run-down building full of junk that nobody wants? That’s totally not the case, and you’re missing out if you’ve never been to one! An outlet store typically sells overstock from regular grocery stores, that’s either ready to expire or just isn’t popular. These items are also marked down to an insanely cheap price. It’s a fantastic way to try new things or fill up your pantry, which is something I do often if you read my grocery posts! While many exist out there, I’m highlighting 3 outlet stores you shouldn’t ignore and should definitely seek out if there are any in your area!
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
If you’ve never been to Ollie’s, check to see if there’s one in your area! Ollie’s gets in a ton of stock from other stores and resells it for super cheap. It’s much bigger than Big Lots and almost has a warehouse-type feel; it’s a little dark but not dirty, and it’s packed with so many different items. You have to dig around a little to find some real gems, but that’s part of the fun, to me. I could go crazy over the huge book section; the books range from $1.99 and up, including cookbooks and those adult coloring books that are all the rage. And they’re all brand new!
Ollie’s also has markdowns on kitchen appliances, school supplies, personal care (deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, soap), gardening supplies, furniture, toys, clothes… seriously, everything. Check their ad online to see what they’re offering that week; it’s crazy to see some of the things they have!
One of my favorite areas is (of course) the grocery section. Ollie’s gets a lot of unwanted bulk stock and sells it for almost half-price; you’ll want to check the expiration dates, because even though Ollie’s states they do their best to weed out expired items, a few still fall through the cracks. I like looking for snack bars, coffee/hot chocolate, condiments, candy, and anything else that catches my eye. They’ll even sometimes have organic items, like Annie’s mac and cheese, that I’ll snatch up if the price is right.
Ollie’s has a rewards program called Ollie’s Army that gives you coupons based on how much you spend. When you first sign up, you get a 15% off coupon for your total purchase; and for every $250 you spend, you get a 10% off coupon. That might take us awhile because we don’t buy the big items, but you could reach it quickly if you like buying their furniture!
All-in-all, Ollie’s is totally worth visiting at least once. The closest one for us is 30 minutes away so we don’t go often, but when we do, we usually find something good!
Between Ollie’s and Big Lots, I think Big Lots is my favorite because it’s not as overwhelmingly big, and seems to be more organized.. It’s fairly well-known for its furniture section, which includes couches, beds, and TV stands. It also has the typical things you’d find in a regular store, like health/beauty supplies, kitchen appliances, toys, seasonal, school supplies, and grocery. My favorite (of course) is the grocery section.
Examples of great deals I’ve found there are: Boxes of Barilla whole wheat pasta for $.50 each, boxes of Larabars for $2.80, protein bars for $.50 each, and specials cereals for $1.00. Not everything is a good price, and you have to look pretty carefully for the best deals, but a lot of things you can find cheaper than at regular stores!
My favorite thing about Big Lots is their 20% off days. It seems to happen about every 6 weeks or so, and during that weekend they have a Friends and Family 20% off discount. On Saturdays it’s only for members of their rewards program, but on Sundays it’s for everyone; it’s an awesome way to get groceries pretty cheap, or that toaster oven you’ve been thinking about getting. Overall, I think I like Big Lots better, mostly because it’s right down the street from me and is more convenient. Both have their perks, so be sure to check out both to see which one you like best!
If you’re a carboholic like me, you could go crazy in a bread outlet store. There are a few around me- Entenmann’s, Aunt Millie’s, and Schwebels- but there are many others out there. The easiest thing to do is Google “Bread outlet (your city)” and see what comes up! If you’ve never been to a bread outlet, don’t worry about finding moldy bread- the bread isn’t that old! Typically, the bread you find is within a day or two of the expiration date and still really good. If it expires that day or the day before, some stores will mark them down really cheap just to get rid of them.
My current favorite outlet is Entenmann’s, because they also sell Brownberry, Thomas, and Sara Lee products which are amazing. You’ll find standard loaves of bread, but also bagels, English muffins, hamburger/hot dog buns, sandwich thins, pizza crust, donuts, snack cakes, cinnamon bread, and sometimes tortilla shells depending on where you go. My store has most loaves, bagels, and muffins for $1.00, much cheaper than the retail price of $3.00+. It also has a section of recently expired bread marked down to $.50 each, which is where I tend to go crazy!
Now, why would you want to buy almost-expired bread, especially multiple loaves that you won’t eat in time? Because it freezes very well! I keep multiple loaves in my deep freezer, and they taste great even after being thawed. I used to make my own bread, and while I agree that might be better for you ingredient-wise, I can’t make a loaf for 50 cents. I also like the convenience of having different kinds of bread at my disposal! Definitely look for a bread outlet in your area.
There are many more different outlet stores that you might find in your area- the 99 Cent Only Store may be one of them, which I’ve heard is amazing. The best thing to do is check Google, or even ask your friends. There’s nothing wrong with shopping at outlet stores; in fact, it’s a great way to save money, which leaves you more room in your grocery budget for fresh meat and produce. I take advantage of that, and I encourage you to try it, too! Are there any outlet stores by you that aren’t listed above? Post them in the comments, I’d love to hear about them!
Be sure to check out the other posts in my ABCs of Frugal Living series!