LAKE MACBRIDE— Canned beans are delightful because the processor calculates the moisture content of each batch and cooks them accordingly. The product is consistent, and we use a lot of them. We are also willing to pay a premium for USDA organic. Recently, we began buying them by the case from our local grocer.
In our town of 2,200 the cost of goods is much higher than what can be found in large grocery and box stores a few miles away. Sometimes items are ridiculously high.
Most locals don’t buy organic, and the store manager is reluctant to carry slow moving goods. There is a carrying cost of inventory. They do have buying power and access to warehouse inventory. When asked, the buyer was willing to buy special items for us as long as we bought a case or more. We tried our first bulk order this week.
It was simple. Two cases of dark red organic kidney beans and one case of organic black beans for an average price of $1.07 each. A savings of 23 percent over the closest chain store, and 30 percent over buying them from the shelf when they used to be offered. I ordered on Thursday, and they were ready to pick up on Monday. It’s hard to beat the deal.
What is significant is that by special ordering in bulk, we could leverage our local retailer’s network and save money on things we buy, but others don’t. This could have broader implications, not the least of which is expansion of bulk purchases in town to include other items currently being purchased through Walmart, HyVee and others.
What matters is not where we shop, but how we live. By negotiating with local retailers and growers, there is an opportunity to eliminate what is worst about the big box stores and grocery chains… things that make them unsustainable.
By buying locally more often, and custom ordering, society might take a step toward reduction of the carrying cost for a broad and mainly idle inventory. There will always be a need for impulse items, and there should be a premium for them. Yet with proper planning, negotiating and bartering, grocery expenses could be less, and the quality of food higher. A paradigm shift is in the works.
How shall we live? At least in part by buying organic canned beans from a local retailer.