Update: this store is closing as of September 26th, 2011. You can visit Bargain Mart’s other location at 3075 South Academy in Colorado Springs.
A recent morning out with my two-month-old found me forgetting half the things I needed to run the errands I intended to do, and I ended up at four thrift/consignment stores in Old Colorado City. I was so disappointed I had to go thrift store shopping instead of running errands. ;)
Bargain Mart is a scratch-and-dent store located at 3135 West Colorado Avenue (kind of right between Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs). You’ve probably heard of them before – they’ve run radio ad campaigns in the past.
They carry a little bit of everything, but primarily groceries that are damaged, expired, or discontinued. Now, a lot of people don’t particularly like buying expired food, and I’ll admit that I don’t either – if I’m buying it at a regular grocery store. But, if the price is right at a scratch-and-dent store, I’m totally okay with some products being past their “best by” date.
I saw lots of great deals at Bargain Mart – and, of course, some not-so-good. Here’s some prices I noted:
- Hershey’s Easter Candy (chocolate, mainly) – $0.99-1.25
I forgot to look at dates on this, but I don’t think it was necessarily expired; just out-of-season.
- Nestle Butterscotch Chips – $0.99
- Mission and Guerrero Flour Tortillas (soft taco size) – $0.79
These were expired, anywhere from two weeks to a month past the best-by date
- Pepperidge Farm Stuffing – $0.99
- Wheat Thins Artisan Crackers – $0.99
These were still in shrink-wrap from the grocery store, but were at least a year expired.
- Kraft Barbecue Sauce – $1.25
- Duncan Hines Brownie Mix – $1.49
- Corn Oil – $3.50
- Soy Milk, 32 oz (variety of brands) – $1.25
- Kraft Lite Mayo – $1.00
- Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup – $0.79
- Cake Mixes (variety of brands) – $0.79
- Cake-Mate Cake Decorating Supplies (sprinkles, small frostings) – $0.25
- Pillsbury Ready Frosting Cans – $0.99
- Laura Scudder’s Natural Peanut Butter – $1.50
- Salad Dressings (tons of brands) – $1.00
These were on sale Buy One, Get One Free, so $0.50 when you buy two.
- Paint Roller – $1.50
- Lip Smackers (1-3 pack) – $0.99
Some of those things are great deals, and some not-so-much. For instance, we frequently see Kraft barbecue sauce on sale for $1.00 or less during the summer, and just a few weeks ago it was on sale for $0.49.
I thought one of the best deals was the Cake-Make cake decorating supplies. They had tons of sprinkles, small gel frostings, number candles, and more for a quarter each! I bought quite a few and let the kids decorate cupcakes with some Pillsbury Ready Frosting. I typically wouldn’t buy things like sprinkles because the price seems so inflated for what they are, but for $0.25, I splurged and bought quite a few. (Think ice cream, too – not just cake!)
It’s important to know what’s ok after it’s expired and what’s not – and for how long it’s OK. I have had some very bad experiences with stale crackers – let’s just say one-year-old crackers, even if they are unopened, are a good way to waste a pound of ground beef when you make a meatloaf with them.
So, I nearly bought some of the Wheat Thins crackers, but when I saw that they had expired in September 2009 (if I recall correctly), I quickly put them back. I would not recommend purchasing crackers or similar items at more than 6 months past their best by date, and that may be pushing it.
Here’s more thrift store reviews – more coming soon!
I’m also curious about the Pepperidge Farm stuffing, as they had quite a lot of it for $0.99 but it was nearly a year expired. Not something I would be willing to take a chance on.
Things like mayo and salad dressing tend to have a pretty short shelf life, which may explain the abundance of those products at this store. I don’t have any personal experience with dressing that’s super expired, but I know it’s fine after a month or two or three.
I was extremely surprised to see the Guerrero and Mission tortillas for $0.79. I was a little leary of their expiration dates – some were nearly a month expired – but decided to take a chance since they looked OK, if a little dried out.
I made breakfast burritos with them this week and they were just fine – I would highly recommend warming the tortillas in a skillet before trying to roll the burritos, which softens them up and makes them much more flexible and less likely to break (but that’s a good idea even if they are fresh).
Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moldy tortilla – just a dried out one, so I’m wondering if the worst that happens is that they dry out.
They had a least a few items that seemed to be there because they’d been discontinued: Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup is one. We used to use this for sloppy joes (weird, I know – it’s a thing from Jeremy’s family :)) until I couldn’t find it anymore and moved on from canned soup sloppy joes to something more traditional.
Bargain Mart had a few shelves of Orowheat Bread – loaves were $1.79, I think, similar to the Orowheat Outlet. If you’re just going for bread, the Orowheat Outlet has much more selection.
Something I would say was not really a good deal were personal care items. I didn’t seen any prices that looked that great – most of them could be had for cheaper at Walgreen’s or other grocery stores.
Overall, I think Bargain Mart is definitely somewhere to stop into every now and then! Three things to keep in mind:
- Know your prices – not everything is a good deal
- Know what types of products are OK past their date, and for how long
- Have a specific purpose for everything you buy – don’t just buy it and bring it home to sit in your pantry for another six months past the date
What are your favorite things to buy at Bargain Mart?
Store and Contact Information
Address: 3135 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs (map)
Phone Number: 719.685.4500
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM