I always check-out the mark-downs (also called clearance items or Manager’s Specials) when I go to the grocery or drug store to see what kind of good deals (and free stuff) I can get. I usually have my coupon file with me so that I can use a coupon if I have it (this gets me some free stuff). My friend, Georgia, even suggests asking for a mark-down on fresh products that are near their expiration date. Read Georgia’s story about buying marked-down organic milk below.

My Story: Look at your receipt and pay attention to packaging
An example of a great find I made at the grocery store was a bowl of Annie Chun’s Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup. It was marked-down from $3.29 to $1.00. I love Annie Chun’s products, so I bought it. When I opened the package at home I noticed that inside is a $1 coupon for my next purchase of any Annie Chun’s product. I also looked at my receipt and noticed that instead of the clearance price, the full price rang up and the cashier neglected to correct it. Of course I should have been paying more attention when he scanned my groceries, but I have two little boys that provide ample distraction as an excuse. I actually bought a lot of items that were mark-downs, so I took them all back at my next regular grocery store trip, and at the Customer Service desk they issued me my $13.70 refund. It’s a really good thing that I checked my receipt! And that I paid attention to the packaging and didn’t throw away that $1 coupon!

Georgia’s Story: Buying marked-down milk
Georgia sent this to me by e-mail: “I was at Kroger tonight and had a great opportunity to talk to someone how worked there while he was filling the shelf – a nutritionist. Specifically, he was filling the organic milk, which is the one thing we are committing to buying that is organic. I’ll now tell you how I got 3 gallons at 99 cents each!

I noticed that quite frequently the Horizon Milk is marked Manager Special about half or more off, so I asked him if there was a method to this or a schedule. He said that when the milk gets within 5 days of the expiration date, he would mark them down. The new person isn’t leaving such a big window, obviously, and not marking them down so soon, because there were many containers that expired tomorrow. He said that the Horizon milk is pasteurized 5 or 6 times, so it is good for about a week after the expiration date, as opposed to the regular milk, which is pasteurized only once or twice. He said that they can’t sell them past the expiration date, so they mark them down when it gets close and that I could ask them to mark it down close to the date. He also showed me their cost for this milk and it is $4.22 a gallon! They are also getting shipments which are arriving with expiration dates very close to the arrival date.

SO…..If you are interested in changing something to organic, but couldn’t previously justify the cost, think about milk & try these:

1. Don’t look for milk that has a far off expiration date. Look for a close expiration date and ask to have it marked down.

2. Buy the extra milk gallons at this cost and freeze them. I read this & tried it out, and the milk (2%) only tasted SLIGHTLY different, not bad, just slightly different. It is way worth the time (1 day to initially thawed, then the rest thaws as you use it) for it to defrost.

3. Possibly shop in the evening, when workers are stocking things (I went at 8 pm)

I’m sure this mark-down strategy would work on all perishable items. I did previously look for manager’s specials, but never thought to ask them to mark it down for me.”
Thanks for the tips, Georgia!