South Dakota Savers: Get to know your grocery store and ways to shave your bill

·5 min read

Aug. 3—FREEMAN — Bob Pidde has been in the grocery business since the 1970s, and he knows shoppers are always looking for a good deal.

But he disagrees with one old adage. Common wisdom suggests that you shouldn't buy groceries on an empty stomach, the idea being that the shopper will think less critically when making a purchase and perhaps overlook more economical shopping.

"We tend to differ with that," Pidde said with a chuckle in a recent interview with the Mitchell Republic. "We like it for you to have groceries at home when you get there."

Besides, there are plenty of other ways to shave a few dollars off your regular grocery shopping bill if you take a little time to get to know your grocery store, its regular deals and specials and putting forth a little planning ahead of time to take advantage of those offers.

That can be important in this day and age. A recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture indicated that grocery prices rose 3.5% from 2019 to 2020. The increases in 2020 stemmed mainly from shifts in consumption patterns and supply chain disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. So keeping an eye on that grocery bill has been important in recent years.

Like nearly every other grocery store large or small, Jamboree Foods in Freeman prints a weekly specials ad in the local shopper. Coming out on Tuesdays, the ad is an important part of the customer's routine when it comes to guiding their shopping.

"We have our weekly ads. That's when the vendors are giving you the best deals. That's the best time for customers to save on different items," Pidde said. "That's why you see different prices on items, like how Doritos are $1.99 one week and $3.99 the next week — because these vendors are giving us monies off and we're passing them on to our customers."

Some customers plan weekly meals around what happens to be on special that week, and creative shoppers can plan a week's worth of meals and still maintain variety on the dinner table. The weekly ad specials are a promotion held by many stores, and can often be found online, including local stores, including Coborn's, Walmart and County Fair.

Pidde said the store always hunts for good deals from their supply sources, making it easier for the customer to save money directly. Customers can watch for seasonal items to come up for sale thanks to the Good Buys Program.

"These are incentives from our vendors or grocery houses where they're buying at a special price that we're getting for a more extended period of time, maybe three or four weeks," Pidde said.

Through that program, customers can watch for many seasonal items, such as baking goods, to be offered for a lower price. At Jamboree, those items are marked with special signage to let customers know they're being promoted.

Pidde has also implemented the Magic Dollar Program, which is a way for customers to build up buying power for common items.

"We also have the Magic Dollar Program, where if a customer buys so many dollar's worth of groceries, they get their Magic Dollar Card punched, and then they can use that for savings on one of the faster-moving items like eggs, bread and milk. And the cards go in for a drawing every week for a $50 gift certificate." Pidde said. "We go through a lot of those. It's very popular."

He also runs daily specials for specific items every day of the week. For example, milk is promoted on Tuesdays, and people take advantage of that and other daily specials.

"Every day there is a certain item on an extra-good special. Milk is on Tuesdays, but every day we have something just for that day," Pidde said.

Customers can find ways to save even without daily specials and good deals brokered between grocer and supplier. Substituting store brands for the more expensive national name brands is a good way to substitute a cheaper product without sacrificing quality. And it's another feature that can be found at any grocery store.

"We have store brands. Our grocery house promotes the Best Choice brand, and they are popular. It's a significant savings from the name line, but good quality," Pidde said.

With an older customer base, Pidde said he has not implemented money-savings apps for mobile phones or done much with electronic coupons, as some stores have done. But those money-savings methods are likely to become more popular in the future, and as they do, more stores will likely take part. He said his son Brett, who joined his father in the business in 2011, may implement ideas like that in the future.

"We don't do much with that. We have a super coupon every week in our ad, and if they cuy $10 worth of groceries they get that. I find the customer base we have is more into hands-on stuff," Pidde said.

But the grocery store in your local neighborhood may offer such programs. It's just a matter of doing a little research. Customers can inquire with store employees about what the best deals are and when they will be offered. Exploring a store's website can reveal online ads, coupons and other discount deals that may otherwise go overlooked.

Every store wants to serve its customers with good prices and quality products, Pidde said, and grocers will do what they can to keep their customers happy and coming through the door because of good quality and reasonable prices.

"We try to get the best prices so we can pass it on to our customers," Pidde said.

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