Archive for the ‘Local Retailers’ Category

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Reduced To Clear revisited

July 10, 2010

Last year I went to have a look at the Reduced To Clear shop, which had opened with a certain amount of fanfare and also some criticism:

A new discount store selling junk food will feed our growing obesity epidemic by encouraging bad eating habits, dieticians say.

Back then I wasn’t too impressed:

I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I really like the concept, and I was hoping I’d see a somewhat supermarket-like range of dry goods. But the shop is quite small, and the range seemed limited, mostly to confectionary and packaged snack food of a low-grade sort. I did see some cheap sugar (can sugar spoil? I don’t think so) but it was not markedly cheaper than the cheapest sugar at Pak’N’Save up the road. The only useful basic thing I saw there was liquid laundry detergent.

I said I’d pop back in a month or two. Two months, eleven months, who cares? Also, apparently last year I had not yet learned to spell “confectionery.” Anyway today we were buying cheap curtains at a Briscoes’ sale out in Rongotai, so we popped around the corner on a whim.

(Do Briscoes ever not have a sale? There must be some times when they don’t, because I think it’s illegal to advertise sales that aren’t discounts to normal prices. But if there were truth in advertising, they could call their sales “normal pricing days where you have to do some maths” and the small periods with no sales could be “extra high prices for people who can’t wait but have to buy from Bricoes days.” But anyway, this was an actual saley sale that really was cheaper than normal and I know because we checked at the Warehouse first. I just want to make that clear.)

I’m pleased to report that the range at the Reduced To Clear shop has definitely broadened out to the point where it’s worth stopping in if it’s on your route, or checking out their website. I bought salt and tinned fish, but there was also a variety of other things (zip-lock bags, cooking oil, pasta, coconut cream, juice, yoghurt, cleaning products…) beyond confectionery that would definitely be on someone’s normal shopping list.

Incidentally, I was amused to see a laminated clipping from the Dompost’s “devastating for diets” story pinned up on the wall behind the tills. I guess any publicity is good publicity, and as long as the public hears you have cheap sweets, what’s not to like? For what it’s worth, nobody in the fairly busy shop today appeared more than usually overweight. I am a svelte 78kg these days and left with impeccably high protein, low fat purchases.

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Pressure cookers and pressure deals

June 6, 2010

Our new pressure cooker is giving me a lot of jollies on the frugal front.

Pressure cookers save power. Maybe only a few cents, but it adds up, you know?

And pressure cookers save a lot of time. Since the cheapest tasty protein is mostly legumes and tough meat, it makes a big difference to a busy person if you can get them cooked more than twice as fast. For example I’ve found so far that 35 minutes — five minutes to come to pressure, 20 minutes at pressure, 10 minutes to release pressure — is enough to render beef shin totally tender, and 25 is enough for dried beans (albeit with a soak first). Those are both things that previously I would only have had time for on the weekend, but which are now feasible on a week night. I also foresee a lot of soups made from odds and ends.

And this pressure cooker was cheap. About $30 I think, on one of those websites that have deals for just 24 hours. Kathy PM’ed me and said “do you want a pressure cooker for $30?” and I was all “I am hella keen on pressure cookers” and she was like “that’s good cause I got us one.”

Yet this bothers me.

Those sites are a nasty play on our psychology. We are hard-wired to take up opportunities that look as though they are about to vanish. That is the basis of all “limited time only” deals — to give an extra tweak to an offer that will make you more likely to buy. The “one day only” sites are particularly bad because they encourage you to check every day, or even to sign up to be alerted every day. And sometimes you get something great, so there’s also intermittent positive reinforcement, which is the most powerful kind for forming habits.

In my experience, usually those great deals can be had elsewhere without the pressure if you are prepared to look around. And sometimes if you check the specs of what’s on offer, you realise that the deal isn’t even that great. The price looks cheap for the product, but the product itself is inferior. Over time, this has to be a recipe for spending money you didn’t mean to spend on stuff that isn’t the best stuff you could have for that money. Those sites may have bargains, but spending lots on crap, no matter how cheap, is not frugal.

In this case I feel we definitely won, but we’ve got to stop checking those sites. Pretend I wrote a really good moral using the metaphor of pressure and contrasting good and bad here.

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New Four Square!

December 6, 2009

Well, there were two guys handing out pamplets for a free coffee from the new Tory Street Four Square, so we grabbed one, and popped down there this morning.

In short, I think we’ll shop there more often.

Checking out the prices, the place was pretty competitive. Certainly the range is more limited, but there are weekends where we don’t buy that much dry food from New World anyhow. Plus, on account of buying our fruit and vege from the farmer’s markets we’re often not actually getting much from the supermarket.

What they didn’t seem to have was a large number of loss-leading products, but… no worries. We can always pop just down the street to New World to buy stuff like that.

Most importantly, what they did have was a friendly guy who ran the place. The owner spotted our one-year-old and popped over for a chat. Now, this is what makes community to me. A shop-keeper who’s more that happy to chat to you like you’re a person, and who you can see is putting his own sweat into making his own coin. When I compare that to some minimum-wage teenage clerk who isn’t paid to care about who I am, then I’m shopping with the local guy every time.

After all, New World won’t miss my money. There are plenty of unconscious shoppers who will habitually stop in there anyway. But for personal interaction, and actually supporting my local area, I’d much rather give my money to a real person with a real vested interest in my coming back.

So, Four Square (corner of Tory and Cable), you’ve got my business whenever I need to stop by.

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Sneaky, sneaky b-tards

August 16, 2009

Here’s a word of warning if you’re shopping at New World.

Something that’s happened to use a few times in the past week (at both downtown New Worlds) is that items have big signs on them stating 2-for-$XX!! This is usually a good deal, so we buy them, only to get to the cashier and discover that it is some other brand entirely that is on sale.

When I wandered back to check it the label did indeed say “Molenburg”, but the bread under the sign was Freyas. So technically the supermarket isn’t actually doing anything wrong. The sign and the bread are different, therefore I am not paying enough attention, and it is my fault that I end up with more bread than I need, at a higher cost.

But another way to look at it is: these sneaky, sneaky b-tards are fooling me into buying more, in the expectation that I will not kick up a fuss, and socially embarass myself, at the cashier.

However, no amount of grumpy people in line, or sending cashiers off to sort this out, will deter this curmudgeon from getting his $3.50 saving…

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A field trip to The Reduced to Clear Store in Rongotai

August 2, 2009

Yesterday I visited the Reduced to Clear Store in Rongotai.

This shop sells short-dated grocery items at a discount to normal retail. It’s been the subject of some controversy as health professionals see it as a source of even cheaper high-calorie/low-nutrient food. (I don’t really want to get into that debate, but on their website the picture they have chosen for “kids lunches” is hilarious — a lovely healthy sandwich and a piece of fruit, misleadingly illustrating a  list of starch and sugar-rich processed foods.) Anyway, I was hoping that they might have pantry staples that don’t spoil and so on.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I really like the concept, and I was hoping I’d see a somewhat supermarket-like range of dry goods. But the shop is quite small, and the range seemed limited, mostly to confectionary and packaged snack food of a low-grade sort. I did see some cheap sugar (can sugar spoil? I don’t think so) but it was not markedly cheaper than the cheapest sugar at Pak’N’Save up the road. The only useful basic thing I saw there was liquid laundry detergent.

It’s possible of course that they are ramping up and that in months to come there will be a bigger range with the kinds of things I’m interested it. Reduced to Clear have a good website which describes a bigger range than what I saw. I presume it’s what’s available in their Auckland branch. The website would be even better if it had prices on it. Woolworths have all their prices on their website, New World have their special prices listed — I’d hope that a feisty upstart whose proposition is that they are cheaper would have their prices available for me to check before I leave home too.

Right now, I wouldn’t go there unless I needed to cater a 5 year old’s birthday party in a hurry. But I’ll pop in again in a month or two and see what the shelves look like then.

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Going large to save cash – Bulk Buy Bonaza

July 19, 2009

It occurred to me today that the world has moved on sufficiently if I can buy 5kg of flour and not have to worry about it being infested with weevils.

For starters I’d wonder how in the heck the little blighters got into the apartment, and second we’ll likely keep most of it in a plastic container.

The only real hassle will be using it quickly enough.

However, as long as we do use it all then the savings on this bag of flour are pretty good. This 5kg cost me $7, when a 1.5kg bag from the same place, Moore Wilsons, would have $3.88. So we save roughly $5 buying in bulk.

As I say, this is only an actual saving if you’re going to use the product in good order. But, with this winter being as damn cold as it is, baking seems to be the best way to get decent warm food in us while also heating the place up!

I’m planning three primary dishes for this flour. Mini muffins, scones, and, if I can get the yeast to rise, Bread.

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Briscoes Sale! Get on down there!

May 9, 2009

As part of the weekend entertainment of the wee tacker I popped out for a walk, and we happened past Briscoes.

They have a Mothers Day sales on that has a few useful things for sale. Some items are pretty much marked down to prices you would find at the Warehouse…

But! Much of the cookware and bakeware is up to 50% off! That you certainly can’t sniff at.