I was shopping for razor blades recently and found that they are incredibly expensive. I found the best deal was to buy a new razor with two of the new three-blade cartridges. I’ve heard that you can buy the blades cheaper at a big membership/discount store, so Sunday I went there and learned a few lessons that I’d like to share with you. You may question my intelligence of some of the purchases, but I’m a man who attempted to shop alone. I did this as a warning and a public service for those who think they can beat the system.
I walked into the mall store to find a giant warehouse with stuff piled on racks 20 feet high and hundreds of people with huge shopping carts scanning each bargain they passed by. I thought I’d shrunk, as every package was also “huge”. I had to start doing some serious math to know what 64 ounces of breakfast cereal is worth, or 50 pounds of flour, or 2 pounds of jerky. There is an old Simpsons TV show where Marge goes to the Monster Mart and says: “Ooh, that’s a good price for twelve pounds of nutmeg.”
First I came to the tools. Talk about “eye candy”! They had packs containing 12 screwdrivers, six vice grips, 24 wrenches and even had four drawers full of nuts, bolts and washers. I have wanted a folding box cutter knife for years but, they were $14.95 each at the places I shopped and I thought that was too high. I found a pack of three for $20 and bought them, (later) realizing that I just needed one. I justified it by saying that I’m giving one to my son and one to my son-in-law.
The stuff outside the food section has no rhyme or reason as to its location. I saw a backpack pesticide sprayer on top of the jerky boxes. A plastic greenhouse for $499 was next to the men’s underwear. T-shirts were six for $15 and I just couldn’t pass that up, (later) realizing that they are crew neck and not the v-neck that I like. But I’m going to bring them into service slowly so I’ll hardly notice it.
The meat section is amazing. The lineup of steaks, chops and ground beef stretched for 60 feet and it was all marked Choice. The prices were about what the butcher in Des Moines, who custom-trims each cut, charges me. However, it was Sunday afternoon and he was closed so I bought a pack of three big rib eye steaks. Each will feed both of us for a meal. We put two in freezer bags and look forward to enjoying them over the next two weeks.
A small forklift would be handy to get the boxes over into my grocery cart. Wow! The size of every item is great if you have a dozen kids. But when you are shopping for two, and one is on a diet, this stuff may last awhile. Some people were pushing one cart and pulling another one. Better have an I-beam holding up the canned good section of their cabinets.
Finally, I headed into the section that has razor blades, my real purpose in going to this store. I am so old that I remember shaving with one blade. Now the “cartridges” have between two and five. I know I saved at least 50 cents a blade and bought 24 to fit a “Mach 3 Turbo” only to find (later) that my razor is a “Sensor 3.”
Heading to the checkout, I found a few aisles with nuts and dried fruit. I hauled in a 5-pound bag of dried apricots and then a half-gallon plastic jug of almonds. (Later) I found that the almonds are marked “bold” as they are coated with Wasabi, a very hot Japanese horseradish, but I like it and my wife doesn’t, so more for me.
At the checkout line, they told me I had to become a member. I knew this, but didn’t know how involved it would be. I think that’s why they let you go through the store and fill your cart first. A young man took my form and $45 and then sent me to a lady who took a picture of most of my face and gave me coupons worth $10 and booklets that will allow me to buy cars, and hearing aids, and go on trips with them.
I did make one “killer” buy. I was hanging out in the rotisserie section when a man came up and sort of whispered: “The chickens are coming out in a minute and you can use that deli coupon and get a whole one for about $2.” Sure enough, when I swung back by there, one was left and I snatched it and headed for the door. We had it for dinner and it was great. Poultry is cheap; pass the word to the cattle and hog farmers.
My wife, in spite of last week’s “lost” column, forgives me and is entertained by me. When I came back from this adventure, she began to laugh as she went through the $173 bill. I proudly handed her the membership card they’d made for her and she laughed more. I think it was something about men and our inability to go to the store and buy only the items we need and actually know a bargain when we see one.
I am turning in my expenses (membership, knives, almonds, etc.) to the publisher of High Plains Journal and hoping that he approves it as a public service worthy of corporate support. Please check this space next week to see who they’ve selected to replace me.