November 21, 2017

Unique Places to Save Money: Salvage Stores


Part of embracing a frugal lifestyle is opening oneself up to unique, creative or maybe odd sources for saving money. Now remember, just because you chose to shop creatively doesn’t mean you are sacrificing quality, just ambiance, but this suggestion may leave people wondering.

I’ve driven by this Truck Salvage Grocery store many times during football season, but there was nothing memorable to make it stand out, until my eyes caught the 50% off symbol. Realizing that’s often how it is with hidden, frugal treasures, I decided to check it out. There’s no marketing, no ambiance, no bells and whistles (quite an understatement), but therefore, they can pass on the savings to us, the consumer.

Do you remember My “Thrifting for Food” post? That was a prime example of frugal diamonds in the rough. I spoke at a conference last week where hundreds of women drove right by that store – one of my favorite spots in the world, and no one had a clue because of its poor marketing and signs. (Trust me, I told everyone at the conference, and they had more customers in a day than the whole week.) I bring that up because if you embrace this frugal lifestyle with your eyes, ears and mind wide open, you have no idea the fun things you’ll find.

One unique place to find some great deals are trucking salvage stores. (Don’t ask me why some are called trucking salvage stores, maybe because they bring it all in on trucks? 😉 )Across the country are hundreds of salvage stores of all kinds. Some are strictly salvage grocery stores, and some are a hodgepodge of everything you can imagine.

Many think of these stores as primarily a damaged goods store, but I haven’t found that to be completely true. I am assuming that just like thrift stores, all salvage stores are not created equal, so I am only referencing my experience.

Salvage Grocery stores are typically those items that might not have sold at the grocery store due to overstock, low interest or yes, a flat was dropped by a forklift in the warehouse, denting a few cans, thereby making them unable to be sold in a traditional setting. The regular retails stores can’t sell tons of cereal boxes with crushed lids, so they ship it out to a liquidator. Some salvage grocery stores, or ones that may be called Scratch and Dent stores,  sell products that are approaching the “sell by” dates or some that have even passed, but all these stores are approved by the government. They understand that crackers taste exactly the same one week after the “sell by” date, are 100% safe, and fill our bellies just the same.

Since salvage store shipments vary day to day, the thrill seeker never knows what to expect. So many always ask me how to save money on organic or healthy foods, well, I certainly hit that jackpot when I found shelves or organic snacks, salad dressings, pasta and more. These prices were deeply discounted off of what the tag said, another plus.

Not only were there rows of foods, but household, home decor, furniture, clothes, tools – you name it, they had at least one of it. Yes, there was truly something for everyone and most of this stuff was over-stock, not damaged. As you can see, there’s absolutely no ambiance and I realize that it may take a few of you some guts to walk into a store like this, but if you do, you may be overwhelmingly surprised at the great deals to be had on just about everything in your home.

Now, where do you find them?

Ask around. Most stores rely on word of mouth marketing where only the truest of Frugalistas will know the location. If that doesn’t work, try googling Salvage stores, Salvage Truck stores, Salvage Grocery stores or Scratch and Dent stores (all using your city or surrounding cities in the search terms.)

Have any of you ever shopped at a Salvage Store? Have you found any treasures? If you haven’t and decide to give it a try, let me know how it went (be prepared for anything). 🙂


  1. I shop at grocery salvage stores quite frequently, but they’re definitely hit and miss. You never know what they’re going to have or how much the price will be. I’ve gone sometimes and they hardly were able to get anything in, so the prices are almost as high as the grocery store. Then there have been other times when they’ve had a ton of something and marked it accordingly. I’ve scored packages of pasta at 8 for $1, boxes of granola bars 3 for $1. You just never know. My advice is that if you live near one, go OFTEN because it changes almost daily.


  2. Kayleen says:

    I’ve been shopping at a salvage store for a little while now, and I love to go there before going to my regular grocery store. I never know what I might find there, and it’s a bit of an adventure. I can almost always count on 100% juice being very cheap, often because it’s past the sell date, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Ive found juice for $.79, and even a huge box of Huggies diapers for 19.99 (about 40.00 at Costco!). They also frequently have overstock from restaurants, like soups and meat. Definitely worth looking to see if there is one in your home town!


  3. We have a Rail Salvage “store” near us, and you can get construction type materials there for a huge savings – I got 8 feet of linoleum countertop for $25 – it had a small flaw, but nothing visible. We have also gotten french doors there – doubles for the price of singles at a big home store. We are going to look for fencing there – great prices – NO ambiance!


  4. I’ve been shopping this way for 13 years! HUGE part of our snacks and drinks come from scratch and dent stores!


  5. Leveta Ray says:

    I am Leveta,wife to Carl, and mom to Chad 18 (bio) Sam 15 and Kaitrin 12 both adopted from India. I am a preschool teacher with headstart and my husband subs through the school year and pastors a small church. We have a grocery salvage store in our town that we shop in all the time.As someone else said you never know what you might be able to find but the prices are still cheaper than our regular grocery store SO I go there first with my list and then to the regular store.Many times I have been able to find “odd” things for recipes etc. that I couldn’t get elsewhere and it is the best place in the world for cereal.Thanks so much for posting this. I think it is good information for people to know.


  6. EEEK, I can’t believe this. A friend of mine lives around the corner from this place and I’ve driven by it a TON. Neither one of us had ANY CLUE that they had “real” groceries. I thought it was more thrift shop w/ a little convenience store thrown in to make ends meet. Definitely stopping next time I’m over that way. Keep up the great posts, Jenn!


    Jen Reply:

    HA – yes, it’s in your neck of the woods. It’s hit or miss, for sure, but I have found tons of great organic things numerous times. Always double check the prices, a few things are not steals, but depending on what is marked down for the day, there are some great buys.


  7. We have a chain store like that actually in MA, called Building 19. It’s a fun place to go, and like you said, you never know what you will find. The one closest to me is actually closing, so everything is even cheaper than normal. My friends just bought a beautiful king Sealy pillow-top mattress set for $350 from there.


  8. I shop at one ALLL the time and I LOVE it!! You have to be tough to shop is a little 3rd world country ish…to those who love Whole Foods…but gosh there is such fun stuff to be had!! Mine is called NPS and is in Salt Lake City!!


  9. I go to a salvage grocer now and then when I am in the area. Occasionally I find something that is a really, really good deal but usually this store doesn’t have that great of deals. Usually I can get better deals watching for sales at the regular supermarket.


  10. My favorite ‘salvage’ items are the fresh produce items-we’ve filled the freezer with bananas (5 cents a piece) & blueberries ($1/qt) for summer smoothies, cauliflower ($1/head) and potatoes ($1.25/5lb bag).


  11. In our area, salvage stores such as those that you mentioned in this post, are often run by members of the local Amish population. Many are located on back roads and are hard to find. Often the only way to find them is to ask around or keep your eyes peeled for the small and often cryptic signs posted on the main roads.

    Like others have said, these stores are often hit and miss. I also tend to avoid expired items that contain fat or oils because they can go rancid – which often simply affects taste before becoming a health hazard.

    One of my best finds ever includes a huge stash of organic dried beans – each bag was marked down to just 20 cents!


  12. I live in the Central Pa. area and we have a salvage store nearby. There are certain “standard” items that you can find every week, but there is also the thrill factor of never knowing what they will have. For years the parking lot has been a dumping ground for dirt and construction debris, (there are piles of rubble a couple stories high in the parking lot) but once you get past that, the store is clean, well stocked and the employees are super friendly. They even check you out using the old fashioned way of typing in the prices, and these cashiers are FAST. It’s a thrill to leave with a full cart of groceries, and pay 30 or 40 dollars. It is truly a blessing to have this store nearby.


  13. This is near my new ‘hood and I’m sorry to say – they have closed.



  1. […] are entire stores that operate with damaged inventories. I read once about Salvage Stores from a blog I follow, and I remember thinking, “Man! I wish I had one of those […]

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