Hungry for bargains

"With five supermarkets in Oak Harbor, it may be hard to choose which one to patronize. Where is the friendly service? Who has that special item to satisfy a late-night craving?And then there's the question that often determines where people actually shop: Which grocery store has the lowest prices? The News-Times recently surveyed Oak Harbor's five supermarkets to do a general price comparison. We picked the same 13 items at each store, then tallied up the total bill.The items included a pound of the leanest hamburger, a pound of bananas, a head of leaf lettuce, a regular package of Oreo cookies, a package of Green Giant Create-a-Meal frozen vegetables, a 15 ounce box of Cheerios, a gallon of 2 percent milk, a Wonder Bread Big Loaf, a pound of Millstone coffee, a dozen extra-large AA eggs, four rolls of MD quilted or Charmin toilet paper, 2 pounds of Tillamook medium cheddar cheese and 16 ounces of Pace picante sauce. When the bill was rung up, total prices ranged from $26.76 at the Commissary to $40.69 at Albertsons. Safeway's club prices, Ennens and the Marketplace fell in the mid-$30 range. Sale prices pushed Ennens total to the lowest among the non-military stores, $32.12.Since each store offers a different atmosphere and layout, where to shop for the family meal can still be a hard choice - but not for some.The prices at the Commissary bring us down from Ferndale, said retired Air Force Major Robert Trumble, who was shopping with his wife, Mickie Trumble.We stop for lunch and still save money, she said.Of the 13 items priced at Albertsons, Safeway, Ennens, Marketplace and the Commissary, those items were cheaper at the Commissary - nearly $10 less. Millstone coffee was half the price per pound at the Commissary than at the other stores. But not everyone has the military affiliation required to take advantage of this deal. Shoppers who fall into this category can always join a club, adding an extra card to their wallet. Albertsons shoppers George and Audrey Proft don't think so. In fact, that's one thing that keeps them out of Safeway.We shop at Albertsons because they don't have 'the card,' Audrey Proft said.We have been familiar with (Albertsons) in the past, George Proft said. They always have quality items - and they have what I couldn't get at Ennens.Albertsons seemed to be laid out in an organized, logical shopping order. And the Profts weren't the only ones in Albertsons this week because they couldn't find what they wanted at another store.Stella and Chuck Walker are regular Safeway shoppers, but couldn't find one item at Safeway. The item? Quaker Mini Cheddar Corn Cakes.I like Safeway, like the people, Chuck Walker said. I know where everything is.At Safeway the total bill was 3 cents less than at Albertsons. Club card prices shaved nearly $5 off the bill, from $40.63 to $35.86.Peggy Peterson was doing a little price comparison of her own, with a list of her staples. She said for her list, Safeway was looking to be the best deal. Besides, at Safeway they always call you by name, Peterson said. I was walking through produce today and the produce man said to me, 'Haven't seen you in a while.' Naomi Moody was taking advantage of a sale on green beans. I don't just shop at Safeway, she said. I make a list of everything on sale and just buy what's on sale - the stores are close enough that it doesn't take too much more time.She added she likes that Albertsons will take other stores' coupons. The Marketplace total was about 30 cents lower than Safeway Club prices, although that takes into consideration this week's advertised sales. The Marketplace has just remodeled and increased its shopping space by 40 percent, manager Jeff Tarleton said. He said the store does weekly checks on the competition to be sure their produce is at or below competitor prices.Ennens beat the mainstream supermarkets with a total cost of $32.12, factoring in this week's advertised specials. Items priced:A pound of the leanest hamburgerA pound of bananasA head of leaf lettuceA regular package of Oreo cookiesA package of Green Giant Create-a-Meal frozen vegetablesA 15 ounce box of CheeriosA gallon of 2 percent milkA Wonder Bread Big LoafA pound of Millstone coffeeA dozen extra-large AA eggsA four-roll pack of MD quilted or Charmin toilet paperA 2 pound block of Tillamook medium cheddar cheeseA 16 ounce jar of Pace picante sauce"

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