The Art of The Cherry Pick

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Guest post Written by WeUseCoupons’ Moderator, Mavourneen

Definition of CHERRY-PICK

intransitive verb
: to select the best or most desirable

transitive verb
: to select as being the best or most desirable; also : to select the best or most desirable from <cherry–picked the art collection>

Cherry picking is a skill most seasoned couponers use to carefully maximize their savings while ensuring what they are buying / stockpiling is items that are recognized to be an excellent deal while avoiding those items at the store each week that are what I like to call “second or third tier deals.”

Most grocery stores publish a circular each week to announce the week’s sale items. On nearly every front page, there will be one or two items that are deeply discounted and will catch your attention immediately. That’s the item you spot and mutter to yourself “Wow, that’s a great price for X…” With a little self control and some strategy, you can maximize your grocery budget by zeroing in on these items.

These items are referred to by the grocery store industry as “loss leaders” – items that are priced just above or just below cost to lure shoppers into the store. The second part of the phrase – “leader” is where the industry hopes to make up the lost revenue – they are betting the average consumer will enter the store, buy the loss leader, and while they are in the store, pick up multiple full price items that will more than offset the minimal profit item in their basket.

But you aren’t an average consumer, are you? 

If you live in a suburban area, more than likely you have 3-4 large grocery store chains competing for your business. If you receive the sale circulars in the mail ( or can pick them up the week before at the store ), you can take advantage of superior cherry picking to your benefit.

*Take each circular and review to identify that store’s loss leaders for the week – the ½ price items, the items you instantly recognize as significantly below the regular cost, or those items that make for a great deal when the store coupon in the circular ( like Safeway ) matches up with a current, known manufacturer coupon.

  • Make a list of these items, carefully noting the advertised price. Make a separate list for each store.You can also review the matchup in your forum each week, but sometimes sales and prices are regional, so what is posted might not necessarily apply to you.
  • If you have a running grocery list for the week (items perhaps listed on the fridge that you ran out of during the week or need to remind yourself to buy ) bring it over to the cherry pick list once you’ve completed identifying the loss leaders.
  • Take the first item on your grocery list – for example, bananas. Look at the circulars before you, and see if they are on sale at one of the stores. If they are, note “bananas” on the cherry pick list for the store that has them on sale, again noting the price.
  • Move to the next item on your running weekly list: English muffins. Are English muffins advertised as a sale item at store #1? No? Move to store #2. If you find it listed in one of the circulars, note it on that circular’s cherry pick list.
  • Eventually you’ll have divided your running grocery list up amongst the stores before you.

So this week, my running grocery list for the week was bananas, cheese sticks, potato chips, apples, and English muffins. These are items I needed to replenish in my fridge or pantry.

Your list might look something like this:

Giant:
Cherry pick: Maxwell House Coffee, ½ price
Cherry Pick: Dawn dish detergent, ½ price
Cherry pick: chicken breasts, ½ price

Bananas: .29 / lb
Sargento cheese sticks, $2.50
Lay’s potato chips, $2

Safeway:
Cherry pick: 85% Ground beef , $1.99 / lb
Cherry pick: Eggs, $1.99 a dozen
Cherry pick: Tuna pouches, $1 each

Apples: .50 / lb
English muffins: Buy 2, get 2 free
Take your completed list and compare it to the matchup in the forum where you shop. Your forum leader or Matchup blogger will have posted the coupons you need that match up with the items on your list, and will also provide links to those coupons that can be printed.Also, visit the WUC coupon database to search for available coupons for items on your list.

Then note on your list which items on your list have a coupon: 

Giant:
Cherry pick: Maxwell House Coffee, ½ price ( coupon )
Cherry Pick: Dawn dish detergent, ½ price ( coupon )
Cherry pick: chicken breasts, ½ price

Bananas: .29 / lb
Sargento cheese sticks, $2.50 ( coupon )
Lay’s potato chips, $2

Safeway:
Cherry pick: 85% Ground beef , $1.99 / lb
Cherry pick: Eggs, $1.99 a dozen ( coupon )
Cherry pick: Tuna pouches, $1 each ( coupon )

Apples: .50 / lb
English muffins: Buy 2, get 2 free ( coupon)

You are now fully prepared to go to the store. This part takes self discipline – the only things you can buy are what is on your list. The ONLY exception to this rule is when you stumble upon a clearance item or an unadvertised special. This is the ONLY time I will allow myself to deviate from my list.

Some find that taking their children shopping is the best strategy to the successful cherry pick – you don’t want to linger when the kids are getting restless, so the best thing is to get in and get out!

If you have other cherry pick advice that works for you, please share it with your fellow WUCkies- and Happy Cherry Picking!

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Comments

  1. It’s so funny to see this right now. I was talking with my almost 90-year-old mother the other day about how she and my aunt couponed back in the old days and she said the stores called them “Cherry Pickers” because they couponed like we do now. :)

  2. Thanks for the clear explanation. I wish produce was that cheap where I live! 

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