Grocery Outlet is like the Robin Hood of supermarkets; it steals what the rich aren’t using and gives it back to the less fortunate at outrageously low prices (and it looks fabulous in tights). What could possibly epitomize the lifestyle of a broke-ass better than shopping at Gross-Out? With generic brand everything, produce on its last legs, and bargains out the wazzoo, it’ll make you feel right at home.
If you don’t have a game plan when you get in there, it can be a bit overwhelming. Grocery Outlet is huge and filled with lots of nasty crap, but it is also wrought with unexpectedly awesome goodies. My advice is to avoid the meats and veggies altogether; they’re dangerously close to their expiration dates and not of the best quality. Instead, focus your efforts on the worthwhile stuff (which I have outlined below), and marvel at your sweet-ass savings.
1. Booze: Booze, glorious booze, cold brewskies and vod-ka! Yes, they have it all, folks. Whether you’re looking for a cabernet, lager, or handle of gin, Gross-Out offers at least ten varieties of each. The wine selection is surprisingly extensive, and they carry mostly the standard, middle-of-the-road brands, like Yellow Tail. The average savings per bottle of wine is about $5. As for the beer, well, there was some stuff that I didn’t recognize, but they also had PBR (hell yeah, blue collar), Sam Adams, and Sierra Nevada. For a 12 pack of pilsner, the average savings is $4. The liquor selection resembles a frat house bar; tons of cheap-looking handles with distinctly Russian names, like Stolnyzchxxkta. But, hey, for a big party or one very lonely night by yourself, you can’t beat $10 marked down from $20.
2. Organic stuff: Surprise! Gross-Out may be a cold pragmatist, but he also lives in the East Bay and probably smokes weed. Scattered about the store, you can find plenty of natural nuggets. I spotted soy milk, rice milk, frozen veggies, ice cream, and vegetable shortening, to name a few. I saved $1.50 on a vanilla soy milk and almost gave in to SO Delicious brand coconut water sorbet for $2. It seems as though certain organic products come and go, but at least you know they’re making an effort.
3. Cereal: How could the ultimate broke-ass meal get any more broke-assier? How about by taking the normal cost of a box of cereal ($4) and cutting it in half? Whether it’s Rice Krispies, Special K, Kix, or Magical Stars (generic for Lucky Charms) you crave, they’ve got quite the selection. Hell, you can get all four for the price of two! And shopping in this section is delightful, because you’ll spot more funny generic names per square foot than in any other aisle. Tasteeos? Apple Loons? Yes, please.
4. Detergent/Soap: Washing your clothes can get pretty expensive. It’s why some broke-asses smell like salami sandwiches. One of the contributing factors to being stinky is the high price of laundry detergent, but they’d be smelly AND dumb to pass on the deals that Gross-Out is dishing out. $4 will buy you a 150 ounce jug of Arm and Hammer or a smaller bottle of All brand “free and clear,” for those of us who like to smell like nothing. And I was shocked to see fancy EO hand soap marked down to $4 from $9. Why had Whole Foods cast it out of its nest? I wasn’t sure, but I gave it a nice new home on my bathroom sink.
5. Paper products: Okay, so they might not be post-consumer, 98% recycled, unbleached, composted, compostable products, but for $6, I’ll wipe my ass on them. Like everything else in Gross-Out, it’s cheaper to buy this stuff in bulk, but they do sell single rolls of TP and paper towels. The best deal I found was $6.50 for eight rolls of Brawny paper towels (regular $9.50), and I bought a 12-pack of Quilted Northern (more like Quilted SOUTHERN, am I right?) for even less.
The most gratifying part about shopping at Gross-Out is when the cashier hands you the receipt with a crudely-drawn graphite circle around your savings. Even though I only purchased five items, I managed to save $17.10. That’s three burritos, or eight boxes of Apple Loons, or a hoodie from Old Navy. I’m so glad I listened to those puppets.