DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – School’s out, the kids are home and they’re hungry. Making meals affordable during the summertime can be a challenge, but there is a unique option for families: the salvage grocery store.
Renee Turner is a self-professed picky eater. “I found some wonderful strawberries, mushrooms. I’m doing a salad night tonight,” she said with a cart full of food. That is what drives her to make the 30-minute trip from her home in Wilmer to shop for her family at The Grocery Clearance Center in Oak Cliff.
The store carries the same kind of products seen in a neighborhood supermarket — even specialty items like gluten-free — but at a deep discount.
Last Friday, that meant a two-pound carton of organic grapes for $2.49, a dozen organic eggs for $2.00 and eight lemons for $1.00. “We have heavy whipping cream for 69 cents. Large yogurts $1.00 each. We’ve been in business almost 25 years, so that says we’re doing something right,” said Gary Gluckman, who owns the store.
Gluckman brings in fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy and dry goods from manufacturers who do not have time to get it out on store shelves. Many of these items are close to — or past the “best by” or “use by” date. A salvage license allows the story to buy or sell close-dated or out-of-date product.
“I think one of the biggest misconceptions about food is, if it’s past the date, it’s bad. And it’s not. It’s the manufacturer’s guideline explaining to the consumer when they feel their product will be at optimum freshness or value,” Gluckman said.
Even federal food safety regulators say that those labels can be confusing. According to the USDA, “best by,” “sell by” and “use by” dates are not safety dates. The USDA says that it is safe to eat most food products past date, until spoilage is evident. The one exception is infant formula.
“Food dating is personal. Some people will buy potato chips out of date, but not yogurt, for example,” Gluckman said. “It’s a very personal decision about your food.”
Gluckman described his customer base as moms on a budget. On this day, a couple of Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighters were shopping, too. “Shopping for lunch and dinner for the whole station,” said firefighter Quy Phan, who was buying ingredients for a brisket dinner for Fire Station 52.
Like most of the customers in the store on this day, the firefighters bring in repeat business. “It’s affordable,” Phan explained. “We’re on a budget, so this is the place to go.”
Inventory changes daily, so check out The Grocery Clearance Center’s website and social media pages for what’s new and to learn more about their products.