'Bend and dent' store opening in Rural Valley
A discount food store is stocked and ready to open Saturday at 701 Main St. in Rural Valley, offering low prices and an ever-changing inventory of salvaged products.
“We call it a bend-and-dent store,” said Denise Marte, owner of the Marte Mart.“It's a little bend on a box or a little dent on a can.”
Marte and a couple of friends this week unpacked boxes of packaged food and other items to line the shelves.
An array of name-brand cereal boxes with crumpled edges bore stickers with slashed prices. Cake mixes will sell for a buck apiece, and exotic teas and imported chocolates for less than $3. Inexpensive hair products, pet supplies and cleaning products filled other sections of the store.
“Everything you see here was in one tractor-trailer load,” said friend Deb Luke of Kittanning Township.
Marte, who is originally from the southwest corner of New York, has been an area resident since the late 1980s. She bought the store in the fall and has been hard at work for the last few weeks preparing the store in the former Main Street Market building for business.
Food-salvage stores such as Marte's sell products that grocery stores can't because of their less-than-pristine appearance or because they are near or past their expiration dates.
She said finding warehouses that sell the products was a big hurdle to getting her store started.
“They're a well-guarded secret,” she said. “It took me a while to crack the code.”
An expired sell-by date does not mean that food has spoiled or is unsafe to eat, according to the Food and Drug Administration website.
Like any grocery store, discount stores are federally regulated and must have permits and pass inspection in order to operate.
If someone buys an expired item that smells bad or seems to be spoiled, they should return it to the store, Marte said.
“Bring it back, we'll take care of it and clear all the same brand and lot number from the shelf,” she said.
And the low prices help those who are on a fixed income or who might rely on food stamps, Marte said.
“We make their dollars stretch,” she said.
The shop's location in the middle of town will be convenient for those who are unable to drive. Marte plans to sell milk, bread and ice cream at regular price, in addition to the cheaper goods.
“I think the whole community is going to benefit,” she said.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.