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Reader tip: Ask for mark-downs

Susan emailed me yesterday with her experience in asking for a mark-down:

I went to Kroger today to get a few
things and I really needed some organic milk. I can often find some
marked down, but today there was none marked down. However, I found they had some
Horizon milk that had a sell-by date of Dec 12 (4 days away).

I found someone who worked at Kroger and asked them if they could tell
me what days they mark down dairy products. When they told me that it was no no specific
day but just every so often, I asked if the milk could/should be marked
down since it expires in 4 days. They said "sure"!

The nice lady
asked how many gallons I wanted, and marked them down and give them to
me, and then marked down the rest of them too! I was so excited that I
got my organic milk for only $2.75/gallon! It never hurts to ask!

Have any of you asked for a mark-down before on items which were nearing their expiration date or produce which was going bad? I have done this very successfully at Aldi before–sometimes even scoring free produce!

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56 Comments

  • Tammy says:

    I went to Lowe’s recently and they had rugs on clearance. I had seen a similar rug on sale at Kohl’s for $14 so that was my target price. The Lowe’s rugs were orig. $24.95, marked down to $17. I asked if they would mark them down further if I purchased two, since there were only two left on the rack. The guy said sure, and marked them down to $10!

  • Honey says:

    Thanks for the tip. I would bet it would just depend on who you ask. My Kroger marks things down on Mondays and Wednesdays. I went in one Monday afternoon and nothing was marked down, but some employees were working in the area. I asked “do you know if any of this is going to be discounted?” They said, we don’t know we haven’t been able to get to it yet…come back tonight. But, the way Susan asked directly for a discount and pointed out the expiration date seems like a much better way. Sometimes people do not get a hint:)

  • I have also done this very successfully at Kroger.

    I usually get my yogurt discounted.

  • Kate says:

    I actually just put that one in a coupon handbook that I wrote! The day after Thanksgiving, I found my final gift. After searching for the perfect toy for my daughter, I found it! The problem was, they had two… one didn’t work, and the other had chocolate on it from some little kid’s hands that was playing with it in the store! I brought it to the front and asked for a discount. I got 10% off just for asking, and all I have to do is wipe off the plastic with an antibacterial wipe.

  • Katie says:

    I tried it not too long ago w/ Whole Foods.

    I was practically laughed at….

  • amanda says:

    at aldi they just GAVE you produce free?!

  • Rachel Z says:

    I always ask at one store. They are great about checking experation dates mid-day, but if they get busy, I will check. They are great about marking anything down to .25 or .50

  • Julie says:

    I tried that once at Kroger. My kids love to get a free cookie at the bakery counter each time we go in. I was hoping they would have some day-old cookies for sale so I could take some home. I found one, but it wasn’t marked. So I took it to the bakery counter and asked her if she would mark it down since the date had expired two days ago. The lady grabbed them out of my hand and threw them away, saying that they were too old to mark down! So much for discounted cookies.

  • Christie says:

    I do it all the time at Kroger for dairy and meat items. I’ve never had a problem. I just usually say, “Hey, this item is expiring soon. Should it have been marked down yet?” They are always happy to it for me.

  • Amy Jones says:

    I walked into our grocery store a couple weeks ago to see the produce guy loading almost-ripe to ripe bananas on a cart, OFF the display. I asked him, “You aren’t going to be throwing those out are you? What happened to when you used to put them in paper bags and mark them down? Those are perfect!” He said “You want them?” Um- yeah- I don’t want you throwing away perfectly good bananas!! HE went and found a bag, filled it and marked it $2…. it was about 26 lbs of ORGANIC bananas.

  • I always look for and buy the markdowned products…..but I never thought to ask. Simple and effective – great idea!

  • Bonnie says:

    Our Ingles usually has mark-down day on Mondays. I always try to say hello and thank you to the “mark-down man”. Now, he recognizes me and asks if there is anything that I need that week. He’ll go out of his way to see if there is anything expiring that I want. It always helps to be courteous and polite to sales people!

  • Cherilyn says:

    I specifically look for meat that is starting to turn and ask the meat dept to mark it down. It’s very successful every time.

  • Lexie says:

    Yes, but mostly on clothing that has a missing button or small rip that I can easily repair.

  • Andrea says:

    Yes, I’ve asked for mark downs at my local grocery store, Pick N Save. I was told by different employees that as much as they wish they could, it is corporate policy to throw away food that doesn’t sell if it is near expiration date.

    🙁 So no markdowns for me besides Walmart’s meat, and even now, that’s a stretch!

  • Yes, I do this all the time. I score organic milk like this too!

  • Tawra Kellam says:

    Here is one of my best finds.
    http://www.livingonadime.com/blog/?p=1092

    The key is to ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask! 90% of the time they have told me yes!

    On the time I found the milk about to expire and I asked the dairy guy if he would mark it down I got two FULL and over the top baskets of marked down milk!

    I was able to stock 3 big freezers and 2 fridge freezers of friends and family with this find, all because I asked!

    Tawra

  • SarahMay says:

    I did this a couple weeks ago at Save-A-Lot (similar to Aldi’s). It was a couple hours before closing and they had some New York Strip steak for $2.99/lb (marked down from the original price of $7.99/lb, because the sell-by date was the current day). I asked if they could mark it down any more, since they needed to sell it in the next two hours, and they marked it down even further to $2.19/lb!

    On a side note, I find that Save-A-Lot’s meat is better than any other local grocery store and cheaper, too. I often get their ground chuck when it’s marked down to $2/lb and it is very lean and tastes great!

  • liz says:

    I have thought about this, but have never done it because I felt to shy to. Know other people do this helps me know that its not a big deal if I do too. Thanks!

  • jan says:

    They do not mark down anything at my grocery store except meat from the day before- and sometimes lettuce when it is brown- or brown bananas. Never milk or other produce- I think they throw it out. I asked about day old bread from the bakery and they said they donate it to a shelter.

  • Sarah says:

    I bought my wedding gown at a small boutique. It was September so my sister asked if any of the dresses would be going on clearance soon. The shop owner looked at a list and then pulled out three or four gowns that she said she would discount for me. I got a great deal on a dress that was perfect for me.

  • Sunshinesavings says:

    I have done with is with yogurt before; however, my local Kroger will only mark down (even when asked) if it is the day before the expiration date on dairy, meat and produce 🙁

  • amy says:

    A friend of mine who delivers for a dairy company told me that whatever the stores don’t sell they pick up the expired milk and give the store credit. That is probably why it isn’t marked down since they get full credit for unbought dairy products.

  • susan says:

    This is about a comment mentioned near the top….
    Kids can get free cookies while at Kroger at the bakery counter? Does every Kroger do this? Do you say you want their free cookie? This is very exciting 🙂

  • Stacy Gonzalez says:

    Kroger is good about this. I’ve asked about the bananas before, if there are a bunch of single bananas floating around, even if they’re not too ripe, they will put some in a bag and sell for 0.50 cents for two pounds, to keep it neat. I sometimes have to ask if they are busy. Also, the Dole salads will get marked down to 0.99 cents (which are free with the 0.50 cent coupons doubled). I had to ask about this once as well. Sometimes they get busy and forget to mark down, but I would NEVER buy an almost expired item without a markdown.

  • Sandy says:

    Oh my gosh, you guys are so lucky to live around krogers, Aldis, etc etc. I never heard or saw them before until of course on here. Are they cheaper than Ralphs, Vons, etc? Have anyone heard about Trader Joes? Trader Joes seems to be cheaper than Ralphs, Vons, but they don’t carry variety selection of fruit, veggies, etc…

  • Jamie says:

    I LOVE Kroger mark-downs. I practically walk around the entire store just looking for them!

  • What a great tip! I will definitely have to try it the next time I’m at Kroger (tomorrow?)!

  • Stahli says:

    I have on food mostly but once at Home Depot I found a wall cabinet that would work perfect in the laundry room but it wasn’t put together very well and it was missing at least 4 pieces. I asked the guy and after a little bit of haggling we got it for next to nothing just so they could get it out of there! By the way, I cringe at the idea of having to pay more than $2.00 for a gallon of milk because of markdowns. I go to the store late at night after the kids are in bed that way I can do all of my coupons and get markdowns without alot of people to bother me.

  • Brandy says:

    When I went in to get my thanksgiving turkey at Kroger, I learned that they were out of the turkeys that were on sale with a certain purchase… we all remember that sale. Anyway, the guy looked and said since this turkey expires in 4 days I can technically mark it down, do you want it instead? YES!!!!

  • Oh, I do this all the time and it almost always works! I do it frequently with organic milk, but also with produce, like bananas, lettuce, apples, etc. It also works to find bags of produce (like a bag of citrus fruit) and if you see one or two bad ones in the bag, ask for a discount on the whole bag. I’ve barely ever been denied, since these are the bags that end up on the discount rack anyways!

  • Jenny says:

    I’ve never heard of freezing milk!!! Exciting! I see it marked down all the time at our grocery stores, but I’ve never bought it because I thought we’d never drink it before the date. Does it have to be in the plastic jugs, or can the cartons be frozen too? How long does it last in the freezer? And how do you thaw? Can’t wait to do this!
    And yogurt can be frozen too??

  • Mamosa says:

    That’s wonderful! Organic milk for that price? Wow!

  • Christina says:

    At my Harris-Teeter they mark down produce all the time.
    I usually go in the evenings since I work full-time. They have shelves near the diary isle full of mark downs.
    They have bags of bananas (some are organic) that are marked down to 0.35 a pound. I have gotten whole bags of potatoes for $1.00 a bag. Love cheap produce.

  • m says:

    I do this almost every time I am at Kroger. I have gotten Horizon organic gallons for as little as $.50 when the sell by date is that night and I’m in there late like 10 or 11 pm.

  • Lady Di says:

    I ask for a markdown every chance I get, every store I go into. If a box is damaged, plastic is ripped, something missing, something getting old… no matter, never hurts to ask. I’ve even tossed the “I saw this in (insert competitor store) for (amount) cheaper”. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I’m fashionably frugal.

  • Lilbet says:

    Great deal! Man, I hardly get it at that price for 1/2 gallon!

    You can freeze milk and it thaws out just fine, especially Skim milk.

    You can search online for the definitions of the dating system in the US. Sell by doesn’t mean Use by! And use by dates can be very loosely followed!

  • Amy says:

    I LOVe Kroger’s, they always have things marked down (like the organic apple juice regular 8.99 for 4.00!) but I never thought to ask them if they could mark things down! Great tip! I have been shopping at walmart but I’m going back to Kroger, they have many things on sale or discounted that they dont advertise (like they always have the fruit trays marked down to 2.49 or milk 2.00 a gal!).

    Lowe’s will mark things down too, my husband worked there and he said basically everything is negotiable lol. They’d rather sell you something for less than nothing at all. Always ask for a deal they’re usually willing to give you one!

  • Shawna says:

    I was purchasing a book at Target the other day and mentioned how torn up the cover was and that I wasn’t pleased about paying full price and the cashier marked it down THIRTY percent.

  • Kristy Crowl says:

    At the Meijer i go to they have a cart in the middle isle that has marked down items usally 50% off they usually have cans or boxes that are dented or torn. they also mark down meat really well too.

  • Jan says:

    At our grocery store Giant Eagle- you buy a card every year for just $1 donation to the Children’s Hospital- it looks like a plastic gift card- and your kids gets a FREE cookie at the bakery every visit= they usually don’t even ask to see the card! So $1 equals hypotheticalls 365 cookies:-)

  • Elise says:

    I’ve gotten some great things marked down at Kroger. Especially, dairy and meat, and produce. I will ask Jack, the dairy guy, if he can mark down soon to expire stuff and usually he will. So sad I had to move away…
    Gotta find another place to haunt!!
    Elise

  • Andrea says:

    I have the same problem with the organic milk not always being marked down, but it seems like they mark them down in the evening at our Kroger. I always ask if they will mark it down when it’s close to expiring and they usally always do, too. I do love that considering my 20 month old drinks about 4 sippy cups a day. Also when the Horizon milk is not marked down check the Private Selection organic milk. They mark that down for the date as well. It taste the same as Horizon, I think.

  • Kathryn says:

    We do this ALL the time. We’ve scored some great deals this way. It used to be that our local store would discount stuff to $0.99 when they marked things down. We’ve gotten the big veggie platters (normal cost around $30), big fruit trays (normal cost around $35), soup mixes, salads, POM & Odwalla juices, veggie cheese/meat, egg rolls, mushrooms, etc. Sometimes they will fill a bag when they had too much on the display and it was falling off — Price: $0.99. It really hurt my budget when they went upped the discount to half the original price. Several months later they stopped discounting … period.

    Kroger still discounts but not the way the other store did. Still, I’ve gotten some great deals there as well. For instance, I’ve gotten soy yogurt for $0.25/container. POM and Odwalla juices for under $2.00 (even the largest sizes). So, ask … it can’t hurt.

  • Lissa says:

    I have many people ask me questions about how I score great meat, produce, and dairy deals!

    I have written an article on my site called “Discounted Meat 101” in hopes that my knowledge can help others further reduce their grocery bills!

    I even include food safety links and my personal experiences with purchasing discounted meat! I hope this helps!

    http://savingyourcents.blogspot.com/2008/12/discounted-meat-101.html

  • Erica B says:

    I went to Safeway to buy ground beef and found a large pack that was discounted for being in bulk, but the sell-by date was that day. I went to the meat counter and explained that not only was it expiring, but that there were several other packages expiring on the same date. He gave me a 30% off peelie and I saved a lot!

  • Shannon A. says:

    Last night I asked about the rough-looking bags of lemons, as they are $2.49 and the lady said I could have them for .99! Yeehaw, great for baking! Also got a bouquet of flowers for $1.99. We don’t have very many markdowns in TN, but once in a while there will be a few!

  • Kirby says:

    I always get stuff discounted at Kroger: organic milk, eggs, other organic dairy products. “My produce guy” expects me every Wednesday morning now, and always greets me with, “What’d you find today?”

  • Emily says:

    Hello,
    Can anyone in the store write a new price on the item? I shop at Hannafords up North in NH and we don’t have a meat counter or really anyone hanging out near the dairy cases. Do you go to customer service?
    I frequently see almost expired dairy and/or meat and I definitely will try asking next time.
    Thanks,
    Emily

  • Becky says:

    I too am too shy to do this…i will try.

    Sandy-
    Ah thanks for reminding me about Trader Joe’s. I always forget about them, and i have one closer to me now. There is also Fresh & Easy but i didn’t much care for their selection. http://learningthefrugalropes.blogspot.com is a blogger out here in Cali (i’m guessing that’s where your from) so maybe she has more relevant tips and can answer your questions. I don’t remember what things cost often, so can’t tell which store has best prices. All i know is milk at Target is cheaper than Albertsons, but ramen is cheaper from Albertsons.

  • I’m embarassed to say I have never tried this – and I really should. I have pointed out when I accidently bought something that had expired – and got a replacement for free, plus my money back. But I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind – once I’m past the morning sickness and shopping again, that is!

    Jennifer

  • Martha says:

    Concerning the cookies at Kroger, our store just has them out on the counter with a sign for a free cookie for the kids. You don’t have to ask. But each store is probably different.

  • TJ says:

    I asked at Safeway once regarding some dip in their deli. I was told no, even though it was expiring the next day. Their new 30% or 50% off of meat when it gets old is nothing compared to what it used to be.

    Luckily we have a local grocery that marks things way down!

  • Ashley says:

    Publix has marked down Organic milk for me 🙂

  • Leslie says:

    Yes, I have also asked for markdowns at my local IGA. Hummus and salsa was expiring the next day. I got half off.
    Other helpful ideas:
    I went to a bagel place about 15 min before they were going to close, and they gave me bagels for half off. Using the Entertainment passbook, I got bagels for 75% off.
    For signing up for our local paper for 13 wks (the minimum time), I got an Entertainment passbook for free, and started getting coupons again.
    Our local Meijers (and Krogers) has an area for markdowns. They are usually labeled in red so they are easy to see.
    Our Krogers does tell us when they mark down meat, so we can take advantage of that.
    My daughter worked at a local orchard this year, and we got lots of free produce. They mark down their produce too when it they’ve had it too long. Also, some orchards have “seconds” or “orchard runs” which are cheaper than regular price. Funny story: her co-worker was marking down some produce saying probably some old lady will come in and buy it for her dinner. Well, we laughed and wondered how old “old” was because it ended up being me, and we had it for dinner!

  • Brandi says:

    I love Fresh & Easy for their markdowns. It depends on the store, but my favorite one out here marks everything down a day or two before it expires and it’s all 50% off (sometimes a bit more). Great produce, and lots of ready-made meals which makes life easier sometimes!

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