SALEM - A Scratch and Dent Food Outlet at 525 E. Second St. is the second store for Ed Lee of Beloit. A 4,000 square foot facility on E. Ohio Ave. in Sebring has been operating almost four years.
The Salem store opened on Saturday and is already doing better than Lee expected.
He thought it would take a couple of weeks to reach the level of traffic he's seen in just a week.
Ed Lee of Beloit is the owner of the Scratch and Dent Food Outlet store that opened at 525 E. second St. in Salem on Saturday. Pictured with Lee is his sister-in-law, Shanna Lee and her daughter Lily, who help out at the store. This is the second Scratch and Dent Food Outlet in the area. Lee opened a store in Sebring almost four years ago. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)
"It's been busier than I expected," Lee said Wednesday, "I had hoped to build up to this, but it's where I expected to be after a couple of weeks."
Customers can use a shopping cart and there is a single check-out lane at the back of the store. There is parking in the municipal lot to the east and another lot to the south.
The store uses it's 2,500 square feet to display food, health and beauty, candy and many other retail items that have container damage or blemishes.
Lee said people think they should cost "next to nothing" and he wishes he could sell them for that.
"I wish," he said.
He points to a Keurig brewed coffee with a little ding in the box.
"They eventually wind up here," he said.
While some discounts approach 80 percent, Lee buys in bulk to get the price that low.
The items are what he said were things major retailers "have a hard time putting in the trash because there's such a big market for them."
The brand name items are things major retailers will not place on the shelf because the package is damages in some way.
He explained that many products carrying use or sell by dates are like warranties.
"Even for people who are date-conscious, we have items here."
He sells a lot of discounted paper toiletries, pointing to a four-pack of Angel Soft toilet tissue rolls for 89 cents.
There is a package of "Brawny" paper towels that normally sell for about $7. It's marked down to $4.89 because of a hole in the clear wrapping.
"A little hole in the bag," Lee said, again pointing to another item on the shelf.
"Big stores don't want to deal with it," he said.
He got into the business after transporting cars across the country. That business grew to the point he got out.
"I guess I was able to wean myself out of it ... I was looking for something to do," he explained, noting he and his father were in Holmes County and observed the Amish had a number of "scratch and dent-style" stores.
What attracted him?
"Cheap," he said simply.
"I have a philosophy - you don't eat the box."
He's learned from his three-and-a-half-years operating the Sebring store, which also has frozen food cooler.
He scans bar codes with a phone app and from there discounts the items for his shelves.
Buying in large quantities also means "various" items. The store could be loaded up on a certain shampoo one week and clean out of it the next, Lee explained, adding that well over 90 percent of the items are brand names.
Tortilla shells go for 49 cents - Lee says they sell like crazy in Salem, but in Sebring, not so well while beef jerky at three for a dollar is a huge seller in Salem too.
He's also offering fresh produce on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Plans call for adding a frozen food section to the Salem store and the store will be handing out free bottled water during the Salem Super Cruise.
Lee's, a Carrollton native, is looking forward to that.
"What a great event," he said.
The store has five part-time associates and hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.sanddfoodoutlet.com or call 330-581-1160