Thursday, November 4, 2010

Conquering The Commissary

This is just some rambling from my latest adventure. I don't even have any pictures. I will not care if you just want to click the close button right now. I understand.  I just wanted to journal this.

Now, you may say "what's with this...Conquering The Commissary"?  First, you have to know that I have a  social anxiety disorder that leads me to be terrified to do new things or go to new or crowded places. Well, maybe not terrified, I have small panic attacks, shaking, rapid heartbeat and I'm very nervous.  Yeah, I take medicine and yeah, it helps, but it doesn't ever go completely away.  Having said that, my husband, who is retired military, and I went to the base commissary.  I've never been there in all our time with the National Guard, 20 some-odd years. That's not quite true, I tried to go one time. I drove around the parking lot for thirty minutes, could not find a place to park and went home. Never to return again.  I found out it was a payday. BAD idea.  I just could never tackle it by myself again.  But since hubby is retired he can go with me.  I must say, I did pretty good until we got in the long line to show our IDs to get on the base.  Now why would that make my heart beat faster.  Maybe I though the guy would laugh hysterically at my picture on my ID.  It is not very complimentary, worse than a driver's license picture.  I made it through and he did not laugh. He did kind of study it for a while. Could he have been thinking "that's the ugliest picture I ever saw!!" I kid you not, it is a bad picture that no one will ever see, but those guards and the grocery checker!  After seeing the not so crowded parking lot I was OK. We could have parked in a lot of places!!

I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the commissary. To encourage myself to go, I looked on this as an adventure. I envisioned the savings to be so great that I would never have to shop at Wal-mart other stores again. Well, that's probably not going to happen.  Here's a list of a few of my observances.

1.  It was smaller than I thought it would be. But, think about it this way, if you take all the generics out of your local store you don't need a lot of room for the name brands. The selection is a little more limited, but that means things are easier to locate. You don't have to look through 30 kinds of green beans to find your favorite!!

2. It was a little more crowded with people and the aisles were smaller than at the big name place.  It didn't bother me too bad, maybe because I was so occupied with checking prices and deciding what and how much to buy.

3. They had everything on my list! That's a good thing.

4.  People were really nice. That is a plus. Checker's were friendly and the girl that bagged the groceries was super nice. She was a great bagger. I mean people at  Wal-Mart  other stores could take some lessons from her. You get paper bags if you want and she can load them perfectly. Not too heavy, nothing smashed, she knows what she is doing.  Oh, and we didn't even have to wait in line, checkers were waiting.

5.  We were a little surprised when the grocery bagger offered to push our carts out to the car and put the groceries in the trunk.  How nice!  Haven't had that happen in years. Then she politely informs us, they work for tips. No wonder they were so nice and smiley!  How were we supposed to know? How much do you  tip a bagger?  Going rate, so I found out on the Internet is 25 cents a paper bag.  We came close, shorted her just a little.  At first I didn't like this, being forced to pay someone to bag the groceries and put them in our car. You can't get out of it, this is just the way it is.  But as I thought about it, how many times have I gripped because I have to handle the groceries six times. Put them in the buggy...onto the conveyor belt... back into the buggy... into the trunk... into the house...into their proper place. Well, the bagger eliminates two of those times.  Probably worth a tip for that and she did do a good job!

6.  Now onto savings. I actually went through the last two months of grocery receipts and wrote down prices for items I regularly buy. (I told you I made this an adventure and I really like lists!)  As we shopped I could compare prices.  Wow, you can really save on meat.  It  was worth the trip for that alone.  That is if it's good meat.  It looked OK.  Haven't cooked any yet. The chicken breast and ground beef were about $1 cheaper a pound than some I bought at Kroger.  Lunch meat was a good price, too.

7. To save at the commissary is just like everywhere else.  You have to know what is a good deal and what is not. For instance bulk or large packages aren't always cheaper, in fact I found that to be the opposite.
meat - good deal
toilet paper - a little more expensive
Twinkies (a staple at our house) - 50 cents higher

The food at the commissary is at cost. There is no markup on groceries. What they pay for it, we pay. Also, there is no tax. There is a 5% surcharge.

BOTTOM LINE: actual savings
I only had prices for 53 items (we bought 82)

On those items we spent $94.14 (including the tip for bagger and surcharge)

Total for those same items from other stores $120.17 (including taxes)

A savings of $26.03 Not too bad.

I read that you can save close to 30% if you shop right and use coupons. They even have some attached to the racks, but I was too overwhelmed to think to use them. Next time I will!

So now what do I do? Shop at the commissary once or twice a month. Then visit the local I DON'T WANT TO SHOP HERE STORE for the rest.  I'm not sure.  I'm still thinking on this. I visited a couple of websites with hints to shop your commissary.  You can find anything on the web.  Their suggestion, was to make a  price book.  Keep a list of items bought and the prices from the different stores for at least three months. Because prices vary about every 6-8 weeks. Then if something was on sale I could go to those others stores and stock up on those items. That would mean less trips to YOU KNOW WHERE. Now that sounds like work, but right up my alley. I love lists. Downloaded and printed out a price book page and now I'm ready to go to YOU KNOW WHERE and just write down their prices. Hoping that most things will be cheaper at the commissary. Please let them be!

Oh, and before I forget. Thanks to my hubby for going with me and patiently waiting while I shopped and priced. He is definitely not a shopper! I think he knew he better be patient since it was his idea in the first place!! Not mine!!

When I got home, I was tired but happy. I once again conquered something I feared doing.  You don't know how good that feels. I'm just so thankful that I can conquer and overcome what seems like a small thing to others. 

 "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

1 comment:

  1. You were brave! I bet you slept good last night after that. I have never heard of tipping the baggers. I guess it pays for them to do a good job!


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