Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cents make sense

People are making a difference in the lives of their friends and neighbors.  This morning when I checked yesterdays mail at the church, I discovered a check. We now have enough money to pay the utilities bill from two months ago,  We only have to worry about last month’s, and this months, and next month’s. But the weather is getting warming and I need for heat is going down.  If you wish to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors, email us at, or call the Mor Gregorios Community Center at 574-540-2048.

And before I forget it, thank you very much for the check.

One of the ways we have discovered to help people make the few dollars they have farther is surplus grocery stores.  And there are some in this area. One economic report, we recently read suggested that the trend for such store was going up.   If all you have is an unemployment check, every cent you spend makes a difference.

And the two ladies in the following story realized that “cents” do make sense.

Store just made 'Cents' Friends open discount grocery in South Bend. MARKET BASKET By HEIDI PRESCOTT
Tribune Columnist
Sophia Verongos planned on opening an Internet-only Greek pastries business with a lifelong friend this year when she heard about Goodson Court Grocery.

Actually, she had stopped at the small neighborhood store near Lincoln Way and Ironwood Drive in South Bend more times than she could count, considering she attended the Friday night auctions at nearby Lyvers Auction Center for years.

Only she hadn't known the grocery owner wanted out. And Verongos got to thinking.

She knew the baking business like the back of her hand. If her last name sounds familiar, her parents owned Grecian Delights bakery at Town & Country in Mishawaka, and both she and close friend Shelly Britton worked there. They had made quite a bit of progress in selecting recipes and building their Web site. But this made them pause.

"Obviously with our Internet venture we were talking about people spending disposable income," Verongos says about the desserts they wanted to make, including Greek baklavas. Given the tough economy, she and Britton realized it might be better to postpone desserts and jump head first into groceries.

"Because how could it not be a good thing?" she says.

That "good thing" is the scratch and dent grocery concept with which some local shoppers might not be familiar since the stores aren't as prevalent or marketed as much as mainstream supermarkets. Verongos and Britton carry an assortment of nonperishable brand name items that larger supermarkets did not want.

Maybe an employee accidentally punctured the top of a box containing bags of pasta noodles and sliced through several bags.

Or someone stocking shelves dropped some vegetable cans.

That box of pasta -- containing bags that had nothing wrong with them -- and those cans of vegetables are the types of discarded products that Verongos and Britton purchase and sell far below the regular price at Dents for Cents, located at 1905 Goodson Court.

"We wanted a name that was fun and catchy," says Verongos about the little neighborhood store.

"A lot of people were taught if a can is dented it's bad. But if it's not on the seam and not punctured, it's fine," she says. "I think we can appeal to anybody looking for a bargain and (who) wants some change when they leave the store. Right now a lot of people need to be able to get stuff at a cheaper price. We also get loads of surplus that are priced the same way."

Cereals are $1.79. Three cans of vegetables sell for $1. Chips are 99 cents, and salsa is $1.09. Facial tissue is marked at 99 cents.

"If you know anybody who likes pork rinds, the biggest bag we sell is 59 cents and we have hundreds of them," Verongos says with a laugh. Since the items are purchased by semi-truck load, they don't know exactly what is inside until they open their deliveries. And the co-owners encourage shoppers to buy an item while they can "because we might not get it back again."

What about the Internet Greek bakery business? And baklava?

"As soon as we understand what we're doing, things get settled, we start making some money and can hire some people, then we'll get back to it," Verongos says. "Some people are upset at how expensive things are. Some of our regulars have lost their homes or lost their jobs. I really think that once the community knows that we exist they'll make the extra effort to visit."

If you purchase $50 worth of groceries, Verongos and Britton will send you out the door with a free box of groceries they pack for you.

To get to Dents for Cents, take Ironwood Drive south past Lincoln Way. Take the first right onto Randolph Street. Travel one block and take another right onto Goodson Court (Hoke Street). The store is located behind McDaniel's Harley Davidson.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.


1 comment:

Very Rev. Dr. Theodosius Walker said...

If you are not in this area, and want to find a surplus grocery store near you, here is a link to listing of such stores on a state by state basis.

I know this list is not complete, so if you know of one anywhere, please add your comment here to who and where it is.

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