A fascinating corner of the food retail world: “salvage stores.”
Greene County Freight is a neighborhood salvage store more than 30 years in the making.
Salvage retailers buy goods that are turned down or discarded by other stores. The goods have often passed their sell-by dates — the expiration dates recommended by manufacturers — or were damaged during the transportation process. Over the last three decades, Greene County Freight has carved out a niche serving a part of Springfield’s population that, either out of necessity or opportunity, places a premium on stretching each dollar as far as it can go.
The hidden workings of the country’s retail machinery are perhaps never more visible than in the aisles of a salvage store. Salvage stores serve as release valves when pieces of the machine falter. The list of sources that feed Greene County Freight is a diagram of those moving pieces: truck lines, food warehouses that collect unsold items, food brokers with extra promotional products, insurance adjusters charged with getting some value for products that fail to make it to their intended destination.
And while relying on the imperfections of the country’s systems seems like a precarious business situation, Mary Jane Nelson, whose family owns Greene County Freight, says the store has consistent relationships with many sources, particularly in the grocery industry. …
Shopping at these stores, though, is inherently different than coupon-clipping or even monitoring the Walmart rollbacks. There are many ways to look at the role of salvage stores in the larger economy — not all of them positive — but one hails salvage store customers for making sure products don’t unnecessarily go to a landfill.
“America is very wasteful, very wasteful, and in our business we see a lot of it,” Mary Jane says. “Some people are really hung up on [product sell-by] dates, so they’re just not interested in what we do, but that just leaves it for the rest of them.”
Via The Billfold