Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: How much do you pay for grocery “convenience”?

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Greg Peck
February 24, 2015

I shop for groceries in our household, and because my paychecks come every other week, I make a big shopping excursion every two weeks. When I do, I favor one large Janesville store. I usually also swing by a smaller store closer to home to check for and buy a few sale items.

Sometimes, when I just need to pick up a few items between paychecks, I'll stop by that smaller store to buy them. It's quicker to get there, and easier to get in and out.

How much does this convenience cost me? Let me calculate it.

I recently stopped at this closer store for a few items. I grabbed the cheapest gallon of 1 percent milk, costing $3.49. That seemed high. I bought a loaf of whole-grain bread for $1.79. A bag of Dole spinach was $2.99. My wife and I enjoy sweet yellow peppers cut up on our salads. I checked the price, and at $2.99, skipped that purchase.

A few days later, I was shopping at my regular main store. A bag of spinach was $2.49. Bread was $1.99. A yellow pepper was $1.59. The milk? $2.39.

So had I bought the high-priced pepper at the first store, I would have paid $11.26 for just four items. At the bigger store: $8.46. I don't know about you, but paying almost $3 extra for just four items seems like a lot. Imagine if I bought all my groceries—dozens of items—at this smaller, closer store.

How much closer is it? I wasn't sure, so I just checked Mapquest. I learned that the nearby store is 1.22 miles from our home, and the larger one is 2.37 miles away. So for the “convenience” of a quick in-and-out jaunt that, round trip, is less than a mile and a half shorter, I paid—or would have with the pepper—$2.80 for four items.

I won't stop shopping at the smaller, closer store. I like patronizing shops close to my neighborhood, and as I said, I check this store for sale items, particularly in the meat department. But I will have to consider how much time I have and how many things I need when making these runs for a few items. Yes, time is money. But when dollars are growing short and the next paycheck is days away, sometimes it's worth it to spend a little more time and save a little cash.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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