Would you buy food from an Amish salvage store?

Salvage grocery stores, aka “bent ‘n’ dent” shops, are common in Amish communities.

amish grocery salvage store
An Amish salvage grocery, aka “bent n dent” store

They’re popular among Amish with many mouths to feed, and English bargain hunters as well.  I’ve bought from them a number of times (hot sauce and other goodies).

I just came across a 2008 article on Amish salvage stores (no longer online).  By the author’s tone, she seems to want to cast suspicion on these businesses, describing them as a “shadow economy”.  When I read that, I saw shades of February’s “Amish raw milk smuggler” story…sinister!

But it’s an interesting piece.  One fact I learned:

Except for baby formula, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t prohibit the sale of expired foods or medicine. The agency bars the sale of adulterated or misbranded drugs, but those are evaluated case by case.

Everything else is fair game – “buyer beware,” as B&K Salvage owner Bill Gingerich puts it.

Hmm…maybe the writer has a point here.  “Buyer beware” I can accept when I’m shopping used cars.  But food and drugs?  Takes on a more ominous tone, don’t you think?

But here’s the deal.  If I think about it long enough, I realize I routinely eat foods that are past their expiration date (okay, not month-old cottage cheese, but things that obviously aren’t spoiled).  I also take past-date medicine–in fact I took year-gone stomach remedy the other day (come to think of it, maybe these two facts are linked).

I’m still ticking.  But…is this safe?

And-do you buy from salvage stores (Amish or otherwise)?  What’s a good buy at bent ‘n’ dents?

Photo credit: Consumatron.com

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    78 Comments

    1. Linda

      Health Inspections and such-

      Came upon an Amish baked Goods stand in upstate N.Y. The stand was in front of the home but near the road. An Amish young lady was there – the baker. Are there not health inspections necessary with the selling of home baked goods? In the NYC area, you need a license. Just curious. -Linda-

    2. I bought two great fresh tomatoes at one of those stores in Fort Plain. See my blog for more Amish discoveries….http://amishdiscoveries.blogspot.com/

    3. Supplier

      I can supply any bent and dent stores along the East Coast. I’ve been in the business for over 25 years and can provide the cheapest prices. Please visit my website at http://sbkliquidators.weebly.com/ for more info. Thanks.

    4. J T

      I hit three or four of such stores everytime I make a run to the country. These stores a mostly operated by Mennonites and employ Amish. They are smart buyers and almost everything I’ve had is excellent. The prices are quite reasonable. Each location might have something that makes them different. An orchard fruit farm will sell goodies, both baked and raw. Some make killer sandwiches and others have the best produce ever.

    5. Sheryl

      yes do all the time

      I have been shopping in amish salvage stores for over 10 years now for most of our groceries. Its a common misconception that things go “bad” at or even near the expiration. Most of the “expiration” dates have never even been tested. for example Harvard did a study on medicines that found no loss of potency for 14 YEARS past “expiration”. Its mainly a marketing ploy which wastes a lot of food. Some dates are even expiration dates but sell by, or best used by dates . Years ago major grocery stores sold scratch and dent cans, mystery cans with labels torn off etc. I have bought new in store jars of sauce, salsa canned goods etc that were bad even though NOT salvage or expired. Like anything else though, know your prices, check your seals etc. FYI you can freeze cottage cheese and use in pasta with sauce! Waste not, want not!

    6. Ken

      Wish I had them by me

      I wish they had something like this by me in NJ. I would definitely buy from them. Good way to stretch your dollar.

    7. Nicole

      Local

      I used to buy foods and other products at an Amish salvage store. I had a few items that were really bad…a spider egg in a granola bar and pantry moths. I let them know and went back months later. I bought a box of 60 oatmeals. I put it in my storage room. I went down there to grab an oatmeal and the box was covered in pantry moths. I took the box outside and it has taken months to rid them all. I really believe the place I went was just trying to make money and not carrying about the welfare of people…it might be legal but I am not happy.

      1. Yuck! That sounds pretty bad Nicole. Did you ever mention it to them?

    8. David FISHER

      Of course!!!

      Cans are generally good for 2 years or more unless stored in heat. Infestation of dry goods happens especially things like poptarts. Mylar without see-thru windows, air removed, easily lasts 25 years. Some products last many years but things with oil in them go rancid (like chips). No your products!

    9. Kate Columber

      They are great!

      I live in WV, but when I visit central Ohio go to as many bent and dent as I can. I have never had problems. Most prices are 75% at least, off regular prices! They also offer fliers that tell when the food will go bad after expiration date! I’d like to open one!

      1. Tiffany

        Kate- Could you tell me your favorite stops in Ohio? We shop at a salvage store when we travel to Pennsylvania, but would love to check some out in Ohio.

    10. Tiffany

      Love salvage stores!

      Could anyone recommend an updated listing of salvage grocery stores?

    11. Brian

      Salvage stores, aka bananna box stores

      Here in Pa we have a lot of stores like this. The most prominent one is BBs Grocery, which Ive been to them all so far. It used to be I could go there for minerals, vitamins, etc a dollar a bottle. Even 50 dollar bottles were a dollar. Over the past few months, they have been scrutinizing and doing away with that.
      Then we have sharp shoppers, which are great too. There are some locals that have their own company. One in a farmers market below york sells other then food items.
      Also, most amish ran stores are in the family.
      BBs owners son in law (if i got it correct) owns a store in perry county called skyline groceries. He goes to bbs and picks up stuff. I have only ever found one place that wholesales to these stores in pa, that open to the public on friday mornings only in east waterford pa.