Buying Clubs for Buying Power
My family saved money with a buying club when I was a kid. The products came in large bags, boxes, and buckets that had to be broken down on arrival unless members wanted large quantities. Now you have options for many different sizes and sometimes even individual packages. Of course, you get a better price when you order in quantity.
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Buying clubs have been around for ages. The basic idea is – a group of people pools their purchasing power in order to receive better prices. Farmers can organize a buying club to get better prices on feed, seed, or livestock. Families and individuals can organize a buying club to order food and household goods at lower prices. For some people, this is the only way that they can find organic products or health foods without driving long distances.
Save Money on Staples, Bulk Foods, and Preparedness with a Buying Club
Our family prepares much of our food from scratch. This allows control over the ingredients and we don’t purchase nearly as much packaging as when we buy convenience foods. We eat a healthier diet and waste less too!
I also like to keep extra food on hand in case of emergencies. A lot of my stocked food is home canned, dried, or frozen from my garden. I also like to keep flour, rolled oats, wheat berries, chocolate chips, dried fruits, and various spices and baking supplies on hand for making my own foods from scratch. We make up our own trail mixes from nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate purchased through a buying club. I vacuum seal or freeze the extra foods to prevent pantry moths.
We probably have enough food on hand to last close to a year without buying any if something went terribly wrong. If you are interested in stocking up for emergencies, you can save a great deal of cash by joining or starting a buying club.
Organizing a Buying Club
Start out by looking for buying clubs in your area that are accepting new members. Check with friends who order in bulk, contact companies that sell to buying clubs, or search online. You might be pleasantly surprised to find a group that will welcome you.
If you don’t have a buying club nearby, look for companies that will deliver to a buying club in your area. Once you have the necessary information, organize a group of people who are also interested. Check with friends and family, church members, or through local clubs and other organizations. You might even find other members through an online forum. Be careful about meeting with people you don’t know…pick a public place to have a meeting.
Buying Club Friendly Companies
Check online for companies that sell to buying clubs. The ones that I am familiar with are: Azure Standard (affiliate link), Country Life Natural Foods, United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI is not accepting new buying clubs, so check for existing clubs), and Frontier Herbs. I’m sure that there are many more around the US that I haven’t heard of. If you know of any in your area, please leave a comment and share them!
Some companies make ordering easy and others are less ‘user-friendly.’ Azure Standard is great because each member places their own order and pays for it online with a credit card. There is a coordinator for each group to sign for deliveries. They may send out reminders and updates. The orders come labeled with the customers’ names on each box or bag so there’s no breaking down or repacking. Members unload the truck and there is a shipping fee (but no sales tax in most areas) added to each invoice.
Things to Consider
There are a few things to be aware of before you get started. Some products cost less at the grocery store while others are much cheaper ordered in bulk through buying clubs.
Flour, grains, baking supplies, spices, essential oils, and some of our organic grocery products cost much less through the buying clubs. I check each online catalog then compare the best price to the store price before I buy through a club. Be sure that you will save money and/or have access to the products you really want before you go through the work of starting a buying club! Check the online catalog for the most up to date price.
Policies and Procedures
Check into the company’s return and refund policies, shipping fees, taxes, minimum order amounts, and any other pertinent information. If you have to have a minimum order of $500 per delivery, will your club be able to meet the minimum? Do you have to order every month? Or can you order just once or twice a year? Is there a membership fee? Check the prices against what you might pay through an online company. Sometimes you can find a better price with free shipping for orders over $50 by shopping online.
Get all of the facts before you make any commitments.
Paperwork and Expenses
Some companies require you to fill out paperwork to start buying from them. They may want your social security number or a tax ID number if you are planning on opening a line of credit. I recommend against this, as it can cause complications if some members bounce checks or never pick up. If you don’t know members have them prepay for their orders.
Don’t Go Crazy Ordering from a Buying Club!
Be careful to order within your budget and think carefully about ordering extras or large quantities if you can’t use it up quickly enough. It’s very tempting to load up on goodies that you’d like to have, but don’t really need, so make a list and stick with it!
Do you belong to buying clubs? What companies do you order from?