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Published November 1st 2021
Welcome to a different kind of supermarket
Having driven past The Company Shop in Southampton several times, just outside Bitterne Manor, it intrigued us to find out more about what this retail store was offering. After jumping on their website, it turns out to be a small supermarket that sells surplus stock at a much lower price than in your regular supermarkets, up to 60% lower. It's quite a clever social enterprise that opened in Southampton in August 2021.
Manufacturers and supermarkets have to produce and order down to a fine art, but sometimes things can go wrong - resulting in surplus stock. This stock needs somewhere to go to be sold quickly, instead of it going to waste. This is where The Company Shop comes in. They work with major brands across the UK and offer these goods to the public, sometimes for a ridiculous price. And it's not just surplus stock. It can be stock that has been mislabelled, is close to its use-by date, best before date or no longer part of its multibuy packaging.
It's not just The Company Shop that these products go to either. They also distribute to their Community Shops around the UK to help those in financial hardship who welcome the support of these goods that could have just ended up in landfills.
So what's the catch?
Their vision is to help those who greatly need the support, as well as to give back to the community that offer certain services. Therefore, to qualify for a membership to The Company Shop, you need to work within certain professions such as Emergency Services, NHS, British Armed Forces, Care Work, Prison & Prohibition Services and the actual Fast Moving Consumer Good Supply Chain (Manufacturing & Logistics) industry itself. It also covers recipients of means-tested benefits, registered charities and support services.
Membership is free, just sign up online. The process is quick and simple, and on your first visit, take ID of eligibility and address and the membership card is all yours.
However, you can just turn up for a visit and ask for a Day Pass. This no strings attached pass will allow you to browse and purchase items, but with the encouragement to sign up for a membership.
The Company Store Southampton
As we were eligible for a membership, we signed up and went along for our first visit on a Saturday morning. It was reasonably quiet with about 20 customers or so and the store was larger than I expected. As stock changes daily, their website doesn't show what is available (they do show some offers on social media) so it was quite exciting to be met with the unknown.
The first thing that got our attention was the rows and rows of Bitesize Shredded Wheat! I guess this is what surplus stock looks like. A quick check on Tesco online shows they sell for £2.60. The Company Shop £1.75 with months left on the best before date.
Next, the stacks of Heinz Baked Beans. 200g sells in Tesco for 75p. The Company Shop 30p. Bargain. Or you could literally get 2.62kg of the nations favourite bean for £2. That's a lot of beans for not a lot of money.
We could have gone on like this for ages, but it was the fresh meat section that had us stop right in our tracks. Fresh chicken breast fillets 2.1kg for £6. You'd be hard to find this anywhere else for £5 per kg. That's double the amount for only £1 more. Yes, it's a lot of meat, but for bigger families or the ability to freeze it, this is a huge saving.
It was amazing to see all the different brands together, knocked down to silly prices. There were some higher quality items from Marks & Spencer and Waitrose that were not reduced as much as others, but still a very acceptable discount. The use by dates still had up to 3 days on many of them.
There was even half a wall dedicated to single bottles of water that had come loose from their multibuy packaging. Fiji water 500ml 20p!!! You couldn't buy one of these anywhere else for less than £1. And if you wanted 6 of them, then that would be £1!
The Company Shop in Southampton felt and shopped like a supermarket. It's just unique in its style and not that well known yet. We took a guess at the total cost of the 12 items whilst loading them on the checkout conveyor belt. £12? Maybe £14 as we bought some fresh meat. Total cost £6.10. We left speechless.
How to get the most out of your membership?
Be open-minded - as products consistently change, you may not grab the same deal twice, so be open to trying out new alternatives, different brands or completely new ideas!
Take a friend or family member - you can bring one adult with you each visit, so why not them grab some bargains too.
Sign up for an additional member on your card - great if you are unable to make it to the store, but don't want to miss out on their deals.
Visit before your normal supermarket shop - it is unlikely that you would get everything you need for a weekly shop from a visit to The Company Shop, but it would certainly help keep your shopping bill down. Grab some bargains before you go and knock them off your regular list whilst saving money!
Stock up best you can - there is a limit to buying 6 individual items or one case unless stated otherwise. If it's a product you know you'll use, why not buy the maximum quantity allowed and save on buying it for full price in the future.
Stock up the freezer - it has been known that regular shoppers to The Company Store have bought a second freezer at home to make the most of this opportunity. Their chilled and frozen sections are pretty big so you won't be short of grabbing a deal or two - now?… where to put it?!
Find out more about The Company Store in Southampton on their website and start saving some serious money. You can also follow them on Facebook where they highlight some of their offers and deals throughout the week.