Colorado’s salvage grocery stores growing in popularity

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DACONO, Colo. -- Pat Anselmo has been at shopping grocery salvage for years. She loves the savings, and estimates her Friday groceries purchases would have cost $300 at a normal grocery store.

But at Dacono Discount Groceries salvage store, she just spent $55.

“They’ got wonderful prices, absolutely,” Anselmo said. “I don't know how they do it.”

Brothers Ruben and Justin Esh began their chain of three stores 12 years ago in Loveland, Evans and Dacono. Down every aisle, bargains await.

“Here we have some Green Mountain Coffee,” Justin said. “This would normally be $30 retail, and we're at $19.99. Over here we have another product which would normally go for $10 and we're at $3.99 for some dark roast ground coffee.

“Just trying to save people as much money as we can,” nearby Ruben added. “We started carrying a lot of produce the last couple of years. You can save probably up to 50 to 60 percent on produce.”

The brothers take in damaged, dented, dated or discounted products grocery stores won't sell, letting consumers get crazy discounts.

Their customers seem to appreciate it.

“I love to take this stuff camping,” Karen Gauger said. “I have to save a buck anywhere I can.”

Gauger even works for Sprouts grocery store, but she loves the organic section at the Esh’s salvage store.

“We eat a lot of vegetarian a lot of vegan, so I can get a lot of that stuff here because it’s not real popular,” she said. “I've never had an issue-past-date. Shoot, I say as long as the top isn't bulging and it didn't explode when I opened it, I'm all good with it.”

Even new employees are learning how to eat better and cheaper.

“I'm a single parent and this store actually makes it feasible for me to shop,” clerk Rhonda Gahm said. “And it has actually turned me into a better consumer, comparing prices. I never used to compare prices.”

What’s more, food safety experts say you can't go wrong buying shelf stable items.

“The manufacturers put best-buy dates or purchase-buy or use-by dates for quality purposes, not necessarily for safety purposes,” state health spokesperson Sue Parachini said.

Parachini says avoid products with bulging tops or cuts in cans and you should be okay.

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