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Introduction to Bulk Bins and Where to Find Them
First, one important caveat: shopping the bulk bins is different than buying in bulk: I’m not talking about purchasing extra-large boxes at a warehouse store. In fact, much of the time, shopping the bulk food bins means buying less than the standard packaged amount! You’ll usually see two different types of bins, often grouped together to save space: the lidded bins with scoops (usually items that are bulky/sticky or that people buy a lot of, like dried fruit, flour or sugar), and the wall-mounted dispensers that pour when you lower a handle (usually smaller, solid items like beans, coffee or nuts). Some bulk sections also offer items like herbs or tea in large glass or plastic jars. Stores that offer liquid bulk items (they exist!) typically use pour spouts.
As far as where to find bulk items, most general grocery stores have at least a small bulk section, while other larger chains like WinCo and Whole Foods are known for their large, comprehensive selections. Another fantastic source for bulk shopping is natural food stores and co-ops, which often have hard-to-find liquid bulk items like vinegar or even salsa, and allow you to bring your own containers (more on that, below).
If you live in the Portland, OR area, the Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store carries more than 75% of BRM’s products in our bulk bins at 30-50% off the packaged price, including our Nutritional Boosters, several pancake mixes and more. These bins are filled and maintained daily, and in addition to our own products, we carry a wide variety of nuts, dried fruit, snacks, coffee, tea, spices and other goods from the most reputable local suppliers, for a grand total of more than 400 items! Even better, you can use your own containers, just bring them to a checker to get the tare weight noted.
How to Shop the Bulk Bins
Now it’s time to get down to business! The mechanics of shopping the bulk bins is simple: get out your containers (plastic bags are usually provided, and sometimes round clear plastic lidded containers), fill them with the items you need, and then write the bin number on a twist tie or blank sticker (also usually provided) and close everything up. At checkout, your clerk will weigh your items and use the bin numbers to ring you up.
Downsides of Using BSBs
- Averaging the quality of the items put in is not always a good thing, such as when high quality materials are required for improving.
- 5% of each of the stored items are lost every 30 days, if not kept on a deed with more than 30 days upkeep.
- Any enchants, renames, and other “special” characteristics on items put in are lost. Items with enchants can generally not be placed into a BSB. Rare items cannot be put into a BSB.
- Partial items that cannot be combined are kept in the bin when you use “As many as I can carry.”
- When a BSB is destroyed, all of the items inside of it are destroyed as well.
As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment below and especially don’t forget to post pictures of your finished products in the comments! ENJOY!