Sunday, June 24, 2007

This makes me feel cheap - smart, but cheap

... but I have finally understood the allure of shopping at Marc's.

For those of you who don't live in NE Ohio, Marc's is a chain of discount grocery/closeout stores. Imagine a grocery store that hasn't had a technology update since 1979, and tack on the better portion of an entire Big Lots store around the outside edges, and you've got Marc's. It's not expired canned goods and government cheese - they sell mostly brand-name stuff, including good produce and recognizable brands of meat and dairy products. The aisles are narrow, the organization is funky, most of the prices are done using stickers (not UPC codes), and you have to pay with cash. There's no video store, child care area, dry cleaner's dropoff location, or coffeeshop (all of which are amenities at the major grocery store, and I've never used any of them).

I've done my weekly shopping at Marc's for the past three weeks, and there have been times when I swear I'm the only customer who is a) younger than 75, b) not disabled in some way, and c) not on some sort of food stamp or WIC program. This weekend brought higher-than-normal levels of overweight women wearing tube tops without bras - and here I thought I had left that behind in Kentucky. I hate, hate, hate shopping at Marc's.

But ...

But ...

I can buy a week's worth of groceries for $80. At Giant Eagle, the other major grocery chain in the area, I was averaging $150-$200 a week.

True, I could probably buy a week's worth of groceries at Giant Eagle for less than $100, if I pored over the advertised specials and cut coupons like a fiend. But at Marc's I can skip all the planning, buy everything I need, and it's still dirt cheap. So as much as I feel like a spectator at a freak show when I shop there, I think I'm hooked. Now if I could just remember to use the ATM before I get there, I could skip the fees imposed by the one in the entryway and save another $1.50.

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