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Teri Gault is the CEO and founder of www.TheGroceryGame.com, a website that provides shoppers with a fun and easy way to achieve substantial savings on their grocery and drugstore bills. Members log onto the site to get a weekly shopping list, which helps them to reduce shopping time and money by using coupons at precisely the right time for optimum savings.
A wife and mother of two, Teri began The Grocery Game as a home-based business in February 2000. As an avid saver and coupon-clipper, Teri decided to use her skills to create a list to help identify when to use coupons, based on categorical sales trends, to achieve maximum savings at her local supermarket. Even during her years of economic security, Teri had always looked for the best deals, and when her family needed a financial pick-me-up she realized that she could help others save money, and launched www.TheGroceryGame.com to offer her fellow Southern Californians the opportunity to benefit from her expertise.
MO: Can you talk about the process from having the initial concept for The Grocery Game to developing it into a reality? Did you ever think that it was going to get this big?
Teri: The idea came out of my own need to save money on groceries as quickly and easily as possible. You have to realize that in Nov. of 1999, not a lot of people had the internet at home, yet I knew that this service had to be on the web because of the timely nature of the sales. There was just no way around it. Having no experience with the internet, no degree, and no money, I jumped in with all I had, which wasn’t much! As far as how big we became… In its infancy, I had no idea the business would go national, or even international, but I can’t say I’ve ever sat back and felt satisfied with how big we’ve become, because there’s always development, new launches, and changes in grocery marketing. The one thing that gives me satisfaction daily is hearing from Gamers and how much the savings have affected the quality of their lives. Other than that, I really don’t think about how big we are, just always looking at what can we do next? My nose is always to the grindstone.
MO: Can you explain how The Grocery Game allows customers to streamline grocery shopping to save both time and money?
Teri: www.TheGroceryGame.com is created for those who don’t have time to scour grocery “match up” blogs or for those who just don’t have time to make grocery savings a part time job. With the only comparison shopping matrix on the web with localized grocery deals, members report savings on average of $514 a month for a family of four. Unlike any other site on the web, 62% of the deals at www.TheGroceryGame.com are UN-advertised (not in the sales circular). Now, all the work of finding the best savings, and customizing your shopping experience any number of ways is fun, easy, and profitable.
MO: What are some tips for people wanting to eat the healthiest diet possible but are on a strict budget?
Teri: There’s a common misnomer that the center of the store is full of “packaged” food that’s all bad for you. Of course, you’ll see “junk food” in the center of the store, but look at what’s in your own pantry. All of it came from the center of the store. Pantry items like honey, peanut butter, oatmeal, granola, rice, have a long shelf life. Even around the perimeter of the store, yogurt, eggs, tofu, cheese, orange juice, and most perishables have a longer shelf life than one week. Orange juice and yogurt last for up to six weeks. Why is this important? Number one, there are coupons for everything I just mentioned and more. And more importantly…
Apart from fresh produce, which you should buy in season and on sale, a simple paradigm shift from weekly “need shopping” to taking advantage of “investment” opportunities in groceries (when on sale) can cut your bill in half, no matter what you eat.
Your pantry investments… The food in your pantry should all be bought on sale at half off, as most of it has a shelf life of six to twelve months. But you don’t need to stock up for that long of a time. If you invest in twelve weeks worth when on sale, that should get you through to the next sales cycle.
Dairy and perishables… When dairy and other perishables are on sale, check the tiny dates and invest according to how much you’ll use in that time period.
Meat… If the meat on the front page of this week’s circular is something you like, buy enough for weeks ahead and freeze. So you should never have to pay five to six dollars a pound for your boneless skinless chicken breasts, because you’ve invested at two bucks a pound. In this way, you’ll always have an endless supply of all kinds of meat at half off or better.
Fruits and veggies… Your weekly “need shopping” is basically produce, which you choose in season and on sale. Invest in frozen fruits and veggies when on sale, usually half off, to augment meals when fresh choices are high priced or limited in weeks or months to come.
Some people are resistant to the idea of investing in groceries, just because of the stigma of hoarding, so they’re trapped in a full price rut. But it’s not hoarding. As an investor in groceries, you should be buying all the same food you’re currently buying. By the end of the year, you will have bought the same quantity of food, just at different times, and you’re thousands of dollars richer. You’ve changed your buying times on every food item… Instead of letting “running out” trigger the time to buy, you let the sales trigger the time to buy. That’s why you’ll often hear me admonishing, “Please don’t pay full price for anything!”, and that includes healthy food!
MO: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Teri: www.TheGroceryGame.com was my first business that I actually created and built from the ground up. Though my contributions were small as an employee in other businesses, I think I’ve always been driven to look beyond what’s in front of me, and find ways to make things better. So yeah, I guess that entrepreneurial spirit has always been there.
MO: Can you talk about your marketing strategy and how you managed to attract an audience in the early days and how you were able to translate that into serious growth?
Teri: Initially, I did grass roots marketing on the web, and got a $15 two line classified text ad in our local paper that ran for 3 weeks. My husband distributed fliers, and I still get great reports from members who found us through a flier over ten years ago. Within just a few months, the business came to us by word of mouth, what we now call “viral”. People from all over the country started asking for Teri’s list. If you build it, they will come, but.. you have to build it right and keep building. So the serious growth has stemmed from the constant rolling stone, new developments, new site launches, new software. After all, if you don’t have something new and great, you have nothing to market. The world is a changin’, my friend! Especially on the web, literally every minute of every day.
MO: What are three ways that our readers can start making savings right away during their weekly shopping trip?
Teri: The number one tip for saving on groceries, no matter how you eat, is to get away from “need shopping”, and think of groceries as an investment. Buy what you normally eat when it’s on sale, even if you don’t need it yet. That alone can cut your grocery bill in half. Now you plan meals from your investments. Second, open your eyes to the value of coupons. There are more coupons for organics, natural foods, and healthy foods than ever before. So use your resources… If you don’t know what’s out there to help you save, you don’t get the savings! The most comprehensive collection of coupon sources, free to anyone, is Teri’s Coupon Center at www.TheGroceryGame.com. I just searched “yogurt” and found twenty six coupons from various weeks in the Sunday paper, electronics to download, some in store’s circulars, and numerous places on the web to print. Third, hire the pros to keep you in the savings game for the long haul. With Un-advertised sales, deal stacking, and more, www.TheGroceryGame.com basic membership comes to only a dollar and twenty five cents a week, yielding savings of about a hundred dollars a week within about thirty minutes. That’s like getting paid two hundred bucks an hour. On a four week no obligation free trial, most people save enough to buy a deep freezer.
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