Discount Shopping Deals . . . Even on Vacation


I love summer for the carefree living and the adventures that are always hiding around the corner. You just never know how a day is going to end or where you’ll end up venturing to.

Lately, some of my summer adventures have led to the discovery of some great discount shopping deals in unexpected places. That is always a welcomed treat in my eyes.

After getting their allowances, my kids begged to go to the Dollar Tree dollar store in Missoula. So, before hitting the hiking trail in Pattee Canyon, we made a stop at the Dollar Tree. The kids had a ball picking out 2-3 items each and I was having fun comparing prices.

I found many things, like mustard and ketchup, which I could get cheaper at a grocery store when there is a sale and I use coupons. There were some things like, plastic bags and plastic silverware which were cheaper regardless of a sale or coupons. My bottom line decision on dollar stores are: a great place to go when you don’t have the time to match up your coupons or wait for a sale.

If you absolutely need a bottle of dish soap or BBQ sauce for dinner tonight, the Dollar Tree is the place to go. It is also a great place for the kids to find some “special deals!”  But don’t give up your couponing habits because you will still save lots more using the coupons matched up with grocery store sales.

Every year for our wedding anniversary my husband and I escape for a couple of days. With the kids in hog heaven at grandparents’ houses, we venture out to celebrate another blessed year of marriage.

Our trips have evolved over the years and we chuckle about that. In the early years, we enjoyed more luxurious locations, while now we seek out less populated and quaint places. So, we have gone from Napa Valley to Bonners’ Ferry, Idaho. Quite a difference, huh? We call it diversity! But at this point in our lives, we love the charm and the appeal of smaller, off-the-beat-and-path places. Plus, we are thrift store and antique junkies and small-town America is the best place to discover some awesome discount shopping deals! And this year was no exception.

A week ago, we headed to the Panhandle of Idaho with no real plan — we were open to all possibilities. So, we were pleasantly surprised to find three thrift stores in Bonners’ Ferry, Idaho. We were as giddy as newlyweds as we scoured the stores for canning jars and other items on our list. We found several other thrift stores as we made our way down Highway 200 into Sanders County, Montana.

But the most exciting find we came across during our “Honeymoon” (that’s what our middle son calls our annual anniversary trips!) was the discovery of an Amish / Mennonite grocery surplus store. Not only did we find one in Bonners’ Ferry, but then we stumbled upon one in Thompson Falls, Montana. My heart actually skipped a beat when we entered these stores. It was almost like walking down the aisle at our wedding 14 yrs ago—anticipation and excitement!

In keeping with the Amish / Mennonite ways, these stores are very simple and straightforward. The young girls behind the counter are extremely friendly and helpful. The store purchases reclaimed groceries and other household items in boxes by the pallet and truckload. Many items are scratched and/or dented but still sellable. No two shipments are alike and they only get what is offered. The items are sorted and cleaned for display in their stores. They don’t “stock” regular items and name brands vary. They don’t accept coupons since their merchandise is bought as reclaimed instead of directly from the manufacturer. They have a wide variety of items that range from frozen foods to birthday candles.

Just as I found at the Dollar Tree, some things at the grocery surplus were not any cheaper than what I could get using my coupons. But other things such as marshmallows (70 cents each), Kraft salad dressings (25 cents each), and flavor extracts (50 cents each), were lower priced than what I normally could get using coupons. In addition to their reclaimed groceries, the stores also carried local eggs, raw milk, cheese and bakery items produced by the Amish / Mennonite local community. The store in Thompson Falls even had a deli and a candy counter. These items added that special charm and local flare that I love about the Amish / Mennonite culture.

It may not be the majesty of California wine country or the glitz of Las Vegas, but we found lots of charm, adventure, as well as lots of discount shopping deals in the Idaho Panhandle and Western Montana. For my husband and I, this was a perfect way to celebrate 14 yrs of married bliss!

Summer is at its height right now and many adventures are still waiting for you. So, get out there and think outside the box — the Box Store, that is. Discover places for discount shopping deals beyond the normal grocery store. It’s always good to be adventurous — and the rewards are plenty!


Enjoy this blog?  You might also like Erin’s previous posts on Orchard Homes Country Life Club Celebrates 100 Years, and  Saving Money with Christmas is July.   AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club”  on the home page of (See the Daily Missoula Fix buttons in the left navigation bar) for savings updates throughout the week!

Back to the Save It blog home page.

Click here to see the Coupon Queen’s “Save It” archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.