Saturday, October 3, 2009

The 99 Cents Store...not just for cheap toys anymore!

This morning I visited what I thought to be the "final frontier" of my desire to make discount shopping a part of my life: The 99 Cents Store.

Now, I am no stranger to bargain stores. I grew up frequenting Pic N' Save (before they changed it to the more appealing Big Lots. Good call-no one wants to think of picking their nose while they are shopping.) I am no stranger to The Dollar Tree for teacher supplies, and I used to go the 99 Cents Store semi-regularly for prizes for my students and the like, but today I when I ventured into the 99 Cents Store in Gardena, I had a different mission in mind: grocery shopping.

I was skeptical at first friend Jessica had been talking about shopping there for weeks, and I made fun of her at first. But, I did some online research and heard about people getting wine and organic produce there, so I thought I'd give it a go. Jessica recommended the one in Gardena, so we went this morning. My goal was to see what items that I wold normally buy I could get for 99 cents and to see if I could gather all the ingredients I needed to make taco soup from my friend Keri's delicious recipe.

First of all, the store is jam-packed! No shelf or wall space goes unused and it was a bit overwhelming when we walked in. But, I have to say overall I was impressed. I think it's improved since I went there as a kid. Here are some of my most impressive less than a dollar bargains:

*1 Dozen eggs
*4 pomegranates 
*6 tomatoes (organic)
*pack of flour tortillas
*80 pack of cotton pads (the kind you use to take off eye makeup. This may not seem that amazing, but I spend at least twice that at Target).
*hands free cell phone device (mine broke and I need to stop putting everyone on speaker phone in the car.)
*3 pack of jumbo Dodger pens. YES!

And, I was able to get all the ingredients for my soup, except for the meat and the green chiles. Other highlights of the trip included Jessica sneezing on her arm and showing it to me. Luckily I was planning on buying tissues anyway, so we opened them and used one before we paid. She did the same thing with a bag of Sun Chips (opened them before paying, not sneezed on them).

They also had am impressive selection of spices, candy, and cookware. If I were a fan of hot dogs and white bread I also could have been all set. I saw some wine, but it was a rose, so I think I will wait until I see a white I'm willing to try.

Overall I would say that the trip was a success. I spent $37, and while I didn't get everything I normally would at the grocery store, I would say I won't spend more than another $15 at Trader Joe's tomorrow. I came home and made a quesadilla for lunch and if I were better at math I could tell you how much it cost me. I am going to guess no more than a quarter. And my soup, which I plan to make tomorrow and freeze in serving sized portions, will be at least eight meals at I would guess about a dollar each.

While the 99 Cents Store won't replace my regular grocery store, I definitely plan to make it a stop on my grocery shopping route. 


  1. can you post a photo of this dollar store? im having a hard time imagining a dollar grocery store. kinda grossed out. but intrigued. strawberries??

  2. Way to be open minded, Jess! I have been grocery shopping at the 99 cent store since college and I am thrilled to report that I am still alive and kicking! I especially love it now that they have produce.