Inside my freezer, you will find an entire section devoted to organic dark chocolate. I am a bargain hunter from way back, and I was thrilled to find a new place in town that could help me scratch the bargain itch. As I browsed through the new Idaho Grocery Outlet, I found organic chocolate bars that retail for up to $3 each. I got them for 50 cents. Actually, I got all of them for 50 cents each; hence the freezer full of chocolate.
RJ Miller, the owner of Idaho Grocery Outlet, loves a bargain, too.
“I’m a thrift shopper; I get excited about a good deal,” said Miller. “And I get excited to see customers find a good deal, too.”
Miller shared the story of a woman who came in looking for food for her son. Her son is gluten intolerant, and she found a large variety of choices for him at 30 percent of retail price.
“She was so happy and grateful. I was, too,” Miller said.
Miller is committed to carrying bargains for his customers. His mission is to provide the Pocatello community with low-cost food options.
“It is important to me that people can come here, get good food and pay a low price,” he said.
Over 90 percent of IGO’s items are $3 or less. Idaho Grocery Outlet also accepts EBT cards for the Idaho Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Miller opened his store in the old Westwood Mall Too space on the west end of the building. Although he has only been open since April, Miller is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He and his family manage and/or staff eight booths at the Idaho State Fair each year, and he owns the Jeeves Ads franchise in Idaho Falls. It was through this business he met the owner of Johnson’s Discount Grocery in Idaho Falls. He liked what he saw and thought it was time for Pocatello to have a grocery outlet again.
He now collaborates with the Idaho Falls store. The two businesses share the purchase cost of a monthly truckload of inventory.
“Our products change every month, so there is always something new,” Miller said. “Also we have a good relationship with Pepsi, so we usually have great discounts on beverages.”
Miller wants people to think of his store as “the first stop in grocery shopping.”
“We don’t have everything on your list, but you will save big on what we do have,” he said.
Grocery Outlet stores often stock foods that are at or near their expiration dates. Miller emphasizes that these dates are the manufacturer’s guarantee of freshness, but he extends this guarantee through the sale date.
“If anyone doesn’t like what they buy, I will give their money back,” he said.
Miller recommends the website stilltasty.com for more information. Many of Miller’s items have plenty of time left. All my chocolates “expire” in 2020.
Miller also found a bargain working with the Small Business Development Center. (SBDC services are free.)
“I called the SBDC because I wanted to get some advice on marketing and pricing strategy. Ann (Swanson) also connected me with bookkeeping resources,” Miller said.
Since meeting with the SBDC, Miller simplified his pricing method and Facebook no longer “drives him crazy.”
A Pocatello native, Miller married his high school sweetheart and they just celebrated 20 years together. He is hands-on in all he does, so you will see him at the Idaho State Fair or at his usual place in the grocery aisles.
The SBDC is taxpayer funded to provide no cost consulting and low cost training to any small business. Ann Swanson is the regional director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the ISU College of Business at 208-282-4402 or email@example.com.