What if we told you that you can find your groceries for up to 90 percent off? Well, we have just the place for you. They are called salvage stores or scratch and dent stores. There are a handful of salvage stores in Houston. We are going to warn you - if you love traditional grocery stores for their great atmosphere and slick packaging, then these stores are probably not for you. However, if you love the idea of getting you groceries at rock bottom prices, then you may have hit the jackpot.
Ruby Ford and Lashanda Wade are watching every penny.
"It's pretty cheap here and it's pretty good food," said Wade. "There are six of us in the house and we try to help each other so we have to shop reasonable."
Instead of shopping at a traditional supermarket, they shop at a salvage store called Houston Discount Sales.
"I buy all kind of good stuff. I get fruit, soda, water," said Ford.
A salvage grocery store specializes in selling off products sent back to the grocery warehouse by a store or excess inventory sold to a liquidator by a manufacturer.
"We take them at a reduced price and move them out at a reduced price, and that's the way it works," said Jim Meador of Houston Discount Sales.
While there are plenty of items that are scratched and dented, many items are undamaged and sold because they're out of date or close to expiration date.
Take for example these Sunkist fruit cups. Their "use by date" is a couple of weeks away so they were sold to Houston Discount Sales for a fraction of the cost. Instead of paying $1 at a traditional store for a fruit cup, the price here is eight cents a cup.
"For the price, I need it," said Ford.
So what kind of stuff will you find at salvage grocery stores?
A package of 24 bottled waters is $2.39. Picante sauce cans are four for $1. Packages of sausage are four for $5, and Arizona Iced Tea is four bottles for $1.
"So everything is different, it's like a treasure hunt," said Jimmy Poole, Jr. of Jimmy Poole's Discount Groceries.
Over at Jimmy Poole's Discount Groceries, Maria Soto is on the hunt for a good deal. Because the salad dressing label is slightly ripped, it's on salvage.
"It's 75 cents. You go to a regular store and it's $2.99," said Soto.
The former bank executive used to make six figures a year but when the economy tanked, she lost her job.
"I really didn't care about prices. I just bought what I needed, but now I have to budget," said Soto.
That why she shops at Poole's. Here we found eight pounds of potatoes for 99 cents and two loaves of bread for $1. If you are a little leery of shopping for groceries at salvage stores, they sell other goods like a 25-pound bag of cat litter for 99 cents, and a ten-pound bag of charcoal for $1.99. Just keep in mind whatever is here today, may be gone tomorrow. Here is a list of Houston area discount grocery stores:
Houston Discount Sales
101 Little York
Houston, TX 77076
Poole's Bargain Corner
Houston, TX 77016
Groceries and More
Houston, TX 77055
Capital Sales Damaged Freight
5701 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004
The New Salvage Center
5601 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77011