1. Prepare before your visit
Preparation is invaluable because you don’t want to spend hours just to familiarize yourself with a new store—let alone find your deal. Prepare your coupons and shopping list, and set your goals before even entering a new store! Also, be mindful that sales tax is different from state to state, and this will impact your out-of-pocket amount. I went from 4.75% sales tax in North Carolina to 7% sales tax in Tennessee. Add in any additions per county, and the tax impact can be significant, so be prepared.
2. Ask about their rewards program
Even if you don’t plan to shop there frequently, you can still benefit from having the rewards card. When you receive the rewards card, immediately scan it into Savings Star and check Ibotta for any store specials. When I visited Kroger for the first time during my travels, I asked a sales associate for a rewards card and explained to her that I was from out of town. She was kind enough to suggest that I simply use the guest card that each register carried. It was worth it because I saved money. You should also ask for the sales paper, because you never know when a current sale pairs well with one of your coupons.
3. Ask for a store map
My local Harris Teeter has maps available at the service desk, and they’re so invaluable for new customers! The key to shopping in a new store is using your time wisely. Getting to know a new store will typically take more time, but a store map can direct you to the items you’re interested in faster than without a guide. If a map isn’t available, I always just look up. The aisle signs are meant to be used!
4. Use the KCL website
Using the KCL website as a resource for specific store savings should make saving money much easier. Simply click on the store drop-down box along the top, and you’ll find stores like Kroger listed there. I clicked on Kroger and was able to review their current sales and their coupon policies. It’s like having the encyclopedia of couponing at your fingertips! I used my iPhone to take a picture of several deals I was interested in, and off to the store I went, coupons in hand, savings goal in mind! Knowing what deals to look for keeps you focused and creates a sense of urgency so you won’t somehow find yourself wandering through the chips aisle, about to spend money on items you don’t need.
5. Ask for help
On this recent trip to Kroger, I was looking for a specific item in the frozen foods section. I went over the section twice but was still unable to find the item. I finally requested help from an associate. He was able to locate the item for me, but not by the name I was calling it. I knew the product as a pastry, but he called them dumplings! The point is, people from different regions may associate the same food you’re familiar with by different names. Be aware of this when searching for specific items.
6. Ask for clarification at checkout
Whenever I shop at a new store, I make sure to ask the cashier to show me my savings on the receipt. I also ask for a quick explanation on how to read my receipt rather than spend 20 minutes trying to decipher it on my own.