Shopping organic, sustainable products at fair prices can be challenging—especially when your options are limited to tiny neighborhood bodegas (hi, it's me, a writer in NYC). But in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, I came across Thrive Market—an online, membership-based marketplace of healthy foods, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and clean beauty products at 25% to 50% off regular retail prices. It's like a Costco for pantry staples, except brands go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure you get wholesome, ethically made products.
With people shopping less in stores and more online, subscription boxes and food delivery services like Thrive Market are experiencing a surge in demand—but its siren call didn't come for me until I dropped $25 on a jar of raw organic almond butter at the corner store…and then found the same product on Thrive site for $10 cheaper.
Seeing that my obsession for this one very specific brand of nut butter was getting out of control, I decided it was finally time to join the club and put an end to the sticker shock I kept experiencing when shopping the organic aisle. So, if you're like me, and saving money while also filling your home with better-for-you products sounds like a dream, read my full Thrive Market review ahead.
What is Thrive Market?
Thrive Market is a membership-based online grocery store that sells everything you'd expect from a well-stocked market (organic foods, household supplies, feminine care, and beauty products) but at far cheaper prices than you'd expect. Its main selling point is that members are able to save “an average $32 per order” by eliminating the middle man (i.e., all the grocery stores, bodegas, and supermarket chains that add a hefty markup before displaying products on shelves). If you don’t make back the membership fee in savings in your first year, Thrive will credit you the difference when you renew. Spoiler: I saved more than $32 on both of my orders.
How does a Thrive Market membership work?
It's not so different from a Prime or Costco Membership. You start with a free 30-day trial period, after which you can continue your membership for $5 a month—or $60 for a whole year. It's the equivalent of what a base membership at Costco ($60) or half an annual Prime membership (currently $119 for the year, or $12.99 per month) costs.
Other than its very pretty and seamless user experience, one notable difference among the three services is the give-back portion of Thrive membership: “The company matches every paid Thrive Market membership with a free one for a low-income family, student, teacher, veteran, or first responder,” its website reads. I found this especially worthwhile as the coronavirus is threatening the food security (especially access to healthy, organic foods) for many low-income families.
What products does Thrive Market carry?
Thrive Market is home to hundreds of organic products and brands you may already know and shop, like Nutiva, Weleda, and Seventh Generation. You can tick items off your grocery list by searching by diet (keto, Whole30, gluten-free, paleo, etc.), by brand, or by category—which ranges from pantry staples, wines, meat and seafood bundles, to beauty products, pet stuff, and household cleaning supplies. (It even introduced a new frozen meals section during the pandemic!)
Much like Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value label (or your supermarket chain's generic brand), Thrive Market also produces a cheaper version of kitchen basics, including spices, oils, pasta sauces, nuts, dried fruits—even teas and coffee. I found them to be just as good as other unbranded options, with the added bonus that most of it is organic and still budget-friendly.
Thrive is all about providing organic products for less—but are you really saving money?
I've placed two orders since joining in May. The total of my first order was $110.58, and the savings listed were $47.92. My second order was $67.30, and the savings listed were $44.09. The $32 savings claim clearly held up for me, and my half-year $30 membership fee was paid off in the first order.
Like a kid in a candy store, I went down a rabbit hole for my first order, and added things I wouldn't usually buy, like avocado oil, black rice, and sourdough starter. I was nervous that I'd spent all my money on random novelty items, but I was curious to try new brands like Lotus Foods and Primal Kitchen, which specialize in fair-trade rices and alternative cooking oils. And except for the Brazil nuts (which I gobbled up in a week), everything else is still happily living in my cupboard—including a larger-than-life 54-ounce tub of coconut oil, which I've yet to make a dent in.
You can easily tell how much you're saving per product because the suggested retail price appears slashed next to Thrive Market's price. For example, I found my beloved Artisana Organics Raw Almond Butter on sale for $13.59—as opposed to the $19.99 it would've cost me elsewhere. And though I tend to buy chicken or salmon on an ad hoc basis, if you have the freezer space to handle over $100 worth of frozen beef or fish, then its meat and seafood bundles could be another way to see your savings add up at checkout.
$12.95.00, Thrive Market
$19.99.00, Thrive Market
Since the majority of Thrive Market's selection is geared toward shelf-stable options, like raw nuts and baking flour, rather than a pound of fresh cherries, you'll definitely still need to swing by your neighborhood grocery store (or subscribe to a farm share) to get your share of fresh produce.
What’s the shipping and packaging like?
A $49 minimum is required to qualify for free shipping—so, unless shipping fees mean nothing to you, you probably won't be hitting the checkout button with just one item in your cart. I made sure to get all the things I needed at once instead of multiple orders with wasted packaging. Speaking of which, all of Thrive Market's shipping materials (packaging, boxes, and inserts) are recyclable.
Plenty can go wrong when ordering food online, but I was super impressed by the tidiness and ninja-like packaging of my orders. The products were stacked in Tetris formation to minimize waste and maximize space. There were no spills, shattered glass, or dented boxes in sight.
If you're comparing it to Prime, shipping is a bit slower; my first order took about five days to arrive, and the second came after three days. I didn't mind the wait since I was just restocking my pantry and not waiting on fresh produce to arrive.
Thrive Market review: Is it worth it?
Admittedly, I never would've joined Thrive Market if it hadn't been for the coronavirus pandemic, but social distancing restrictions and sparse grocery aisles had me looking into new ways to get the healthy snacks and kitchen basics I like to stock up on. I wish it were possible to find more fresh foods using the service, but ultimately, I found that the member perks, unique product selection, and free shipping make this membership worth it for all kinds of pantry hauls—even as we start shopping in stores again.
Besides the obvious convenience of having everything delivered to your doorstep, the best incentive is knowing that you're putting dollars toward products that are cleaner, safer, and supporting communities.
$60.00, Thrive Market
Originally Appeared on Glamour