I went shopping two weeks ago and noticed something about the economy: the parking lots in Walmart and the local Dollar Tree store, and the Big Lots, were crazy busy. These are the places you know to shop at when you are looking for bargains. They are "broke people stores". And I was trying to find parking space.
This week, I shopped and saw some things were bought out even in "broke pople stores"--good breakfast cereals and canned fruit. Ramen soups were shopped-over. Even at the liquor store, I saw the bottom shelf was more sparse. That tells me people are buying more at the "broke people stores" and buying cheaper goods as well. Even cheaper booze--which is worrisome, as the brown stuff in the plastic jugs is all about the drunk. And not the drinking. If you go from Jack Daniels or Old Grandad to Evan Williams, you are still kind of in the bourbon neighborhood. If you slip down to something called "Old Tymes" or the like, you are sucking on whiskey-flavored grain alcohol you are most probably mixing with no-frills diet cola or ice. And you mean to drink off how broke you are for the weekend. Nonetheless, I have drunk that broke-ass booze, even that "Zapatas" tequila and "Bankers Club" gin. It won't kill you. But be sparing with it. It's harsh. Ulcers, baby. Headaches.
I think you can easily tell how the economy is doing by what your retail stores are selling, and what they can keep in stock. Don't expect sales on peanut butter and tuna, I'm thinking. You might want to pick up what you find that's good in canned food. If there is a sale on peanut butter and canned soup--invest. Look for good prices on bread, even. You can freeze bread, if you need to. Start thinking even more about whole grains, for the nutritive value. And start going to farmers' markets and places like Produce Junction, to get lots of veggies and fruit cheap--it'll really help you eat well.
And don't be automatically thinking "gift cards" for Christmas. Those stores might not be around tomorrow, and gift cards always were a little lame. You know? Unless someone really always shops somewhere? Like, you could always get me an Amazon.com gift certificate, but many people don't have a bad book jones, or store loyalty. They might even favor cash, for whatever they need to do, depending on their situation. Think practical, this season.
These are your "broke people" tips for the day.