People ask us all the time about how our store got started, and how we are able to sell such great foods (including organics) at such low, low prices. When was the last time you did all your food shopping and thanked the cashier for how little it cost you (which many people do)? The most popular comment we hear is that you can buy so much more of what you want by shopping at our store, because it’s all priced right. THE BARN’s mission has always been to help make healthy, affordable food available to families throughout Western Massachusetts, and we are so proud of what we do!
Our Story Overstock & Shortcoded Two Stores In One
What We Sell What We Don’t Sell Expiration Dates Quality Guarantee
THE BARN opened in March 2002 as a discount grocery store. Since then we have grown into a full-service market. We added fresh meats in 2009 at the request of our growing customer base. Most customers find us through word of mouth from another customer, and we have grown steadily every year. The Greenfield, MA store is currently our only location – there is no place like it! Our 10,000 square foot store is open to the public; no membership is needed and we are not a club or warehouse store.
When people ask us what makes THE BARN different, we like to say, “We’re not a supermarket … we’re just super!” We know what we are and what we’re not, and we know what we can sell at a bargain price, so we try to specialize in those items. How? We buy discounted groceries in large volume, and sell them at low prices. Sounds simple enough, but where do we buy our product? We purchase product from grocery wholesalers all over New England. We also buy from food brokers who represent major food brands, and sometimes we buy directly from manufacturers.
We’re really 2 stores in one – A local market offering almost everything a supermarket offers (with a few exceptions; see below), and a discount grocery outlet with rock bottom prices on anything we buy at a discount. Here are the types of product we sell:
Grocery wholesalers supply supermarkets with the product they need. Sometimes they order too much, or too much of one flavor, and sometimes the markets they supply don’t sell as much as they thought they would, so they leave some product in inventory at the wholesaler. We purchase this overstock product at a discounted price off wholesale, so the company can clear out their warehouse for new arrivals. This is done every day, every week, and especially at inventory periods. We also purchase products with label or packaging changes, when manufacturers change their package design or end a promotion featured on the label.
Another big category of items we purchase is called short coded. It means the time between today and the product’s expiration date is short. For produce, it may have 2-3 days left before the sell by or use by shelf life; for dairy products, there may be 7-10 days left before the product expiration date. As the time to sell the product gets shorter and shorter, the wholesale value declines. That’s a great time for us to buy product – as long as we can sell it! We sell our product as low as possible, every day, to make it more attractive for our customers to stock up!
At THE BARN, we feature 2 kinds of items – those we purchased at a discount, and those we purchased at full wholesale price. For anything we purchased at a discount, we pass the savings on to you, and you’ll save 40-70% off supermarket prices. (You’ll save even more if you visit our Markdown Zone, for extreme savings!) We generally can’t predict what we might purchase in this category – we’re as surprised as you are! New product arrives daily, often just hours after we purchased it by email or phone.
The rest of our product is ordered each week from our wholesalers and suppliers, and we pay the same wholesale prices as other markets. You’ll save 10-20% off supermarket prices on these items – we still price them as low as possible. These are items like flour, sugar, pasta, spices, and things that you’ll need to round out the super bargains from items we bought in quantity. We call these items “Customer Convenience” items. You might point to one and think the price is just about the same as a supermarket, and you’re right! However, that’s only a small percentage of what we sell – about 10-15%.
We carry a full range of products, from fresh organic & conventional produce, dairy, frozen, our own butcher shop meats, deli items, bakery, and grocery. You’ll find most national brands most of the time, but not all the time – we wait for bargains and buy them in bulk when we can. New product arrives daily, and we have many customers who really enjoy the surprise of what’s new each day or each week! Some of our products (especially in our Markdown section) are sold after the package expiration date, although we sell everything in date as well, so you can choose how much to save. We also have a Dollar Store aisle, where all household items are $1.00!
We don’t sell cigarettes, magazines, or newspapers. We also have a nice selection of discount household items and personal care items – including organic items and vitamins! We don’t sell popular soft drinks, and we don’t carry all brands of anything – we don’t have the room! We do not sell dented cans or taped up boxes like many “salvage” grocery stores; we are many steps up from that type of store (although we appreciate their bargains, too!). We try to do what we do best – find bargains on popular items and sell them fast!
We do sell some items after their product expiration date, as permitted by law. State and local health codes are important to us, as well as our own store standards! We guarantee everything we sell is wholesome, and we sample our product before we put it out, so we know what you’re getting! (We shop here, too!) Particularly in our Markdown Zone, you will find shelf stable items that are sold after their package expiration date. Shop with confidence – we guarantee those items, too! It is a matter of personal choice if you prefer to buy food before the package expiration date or after; we certainly have both in every department! For those of you who want more information to decide, we offer these links to various consumer and government organizations regarding the sale and consumption of food products after the package expiration date (or use by, or sell by, or best buy dates). We stand by what we sell, and we stake our reputation on it and have for the last 10+ years of our growing business!
To learn more about expiration dates view these articles:
- StillTasty.com – Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention?
- CBSNews.com – Decoding Food Expiration Dates
- Consumerist.com – Food Expiration Dates are Really Just Guidelines, Not Deadlines
- ConsumerAffairs.com – Expiration Dates
- Slate.com – Ignore Expiration Dates
- USDA Food Product Dating
Like any other supermarket or grocery store, THE BARN is regularly inspected by the USDA, state Board of Health, and the local Board of Health. Beyond those regulations, our managers are trained in Serv Safe food handling regulations, and we have our own internal standards of what products we will sell and which ones we will not sell. You cannot always go by the product date (even if it has not expired) if the product was not stored or transported properly, so we test everything and only buy from respected wholesalers and suppliers whom we trust (and they are inspected as well).
Although we have low prices, don’t worry – we do not buy items that “fell off a truck” or items which are not saleable at other markets due to product recalls. We run a clean operation with products you can trust, and we guarantee it!