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As you well know, I am always on the hunt for ways to save a buck. Money gets very tight some days, and we are limited as to ways we can bring in more. Since getting yet another part time job isn’t feasible, the next best thing to do is cut expenses. But, if you are like us, you’ve squeezed a penny so tight it makes Lincoln jump off to go get help. So what’s the next step?

I’ve been doing some research on just that, and I’ve found one thing that looks interesting – a Buyer’s Club. The idea behind a Buyer’s Club is that a group of people get together and buy in bulk, or to be able to monitor where their food comes from (local farms, farmers’ markets, natural food groceries, etc.). In some cases, buying in bulk can save you money, but can you really justify the usage and storage of all those items? We have a decent sized cellar in addition to cabinets and a pantry, but even we don’t have that much room.

So the next step is to determine if there are any like-minded family members, friends or neighbors that would like to create a group that is willing to purchase bulk items at a lower price, and divide them up. Before you establish a group. You would need to determine what type of Buyer’s Club you want to operate. There are several different ways to do this – 1) Create a co-operative where everyone equally splits the cost, the product and the work (including signing up for a certain number of hours each month). 2) Ownership – you do all the work, add a small surcharge to each item, and re-sell the products to those who are interested. 3) Create a membership – similar to a co-operative, but there could be a membership fee involved, as well as a limit as to how many members. Volunteers may not be required, but a small mark-up could be included in the final price to cover any expenses.

The next thing you would have to determine is what type of items you would buy. Do you want to go strictly organic, or will it be just a run to Sam’s? Will it be food, paper, vitamins, or all of the above? Or do you want to create one that simply provides its members with local foods from nearby farms and farmers markets? A Buyer’s Club can be as loose or limited as you want – as long as all the members agree. One thing you may want to consider is food preservation. This would include any produce and supplies you would need to preserve food items, as well as the food itself. It’s gotten to the point where just the canning jars alone are almost cost-prohibitive if you purchase them retail. Consider going in with several other canners and purchasing the jars, flats and rings at a wholesale price. Then head over to the farmers’ market or your local farmer and get two or three bushels of cucumbers instead of just a couple of pounds.

To create a Buyer’s Club, there are several other things to take into consideration: Where do you purchase your items? This can be as simple as a trip to Sam’s, or contacting local or national distributors. Creating and organizing member orders. Placing the orders, where to accept deliveries and how to organize and fill the orders. Then you need to work on a well-managed way to deliver the orders – or have the members pick them up. You also will have to carefully consider the costs, breakage, spoilage and other things that will eventually happen.

You also have to remember – no matter how well you plan, not everything you order will come out evenly. There are bound to be a few ‘extras’ from time to time. The best way to handle this is to have a Leftover Table. Once everyone has collected the items they need, they then can purchase any extras they may want.

Is a Buyer’s Club right for you? For me, it is certainly a consideration – especially from the food preservation aspect. Are you currently in a Club? How is that working out? I would really love to get some feedback on this, as it definitely is a consideration. After all, I truly believe what Old Ben always said – ‘A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned’. And this Farm Wife needs all the extra pennies she can scrape up!