Here Comes that Thrifty Lady: The Money-Saving Value of Customer Loyalty

We’re all familiar with customer loyalty cards. You know, the cards you get at various businesses for which you earn points and rewards on purchases. But there’s another type of customer loyalty rewards system that can save you money. No card required. No complex rewards systems.

All you have to do is be a loyal shopper, become acquainted with local storeowners and their employees, and have a bit of patience.

A Story About Saving $35…With a Mere Whisper
Am I THAT lady?! A few days ago, I was at the local food co-op buying a cart of groceries. The manager in the health and beauty section approached me with a kindly, “Can I help you find anything?” 

As soon as I turned around, she exclaimed, “Oh it’s you! Well, hello!”

She took one look at the bottle of essential oil I had in my hand, leaned in, and whispered, “If you can wait a few days to buy that, we’re having a 25% off sale on all those next weekend.”

Have more beautiful words ever been spoken?!

This was a huge deal to me because, that day, I was doing a yearly stock-up on essential oils, soap base, and other materials I use for DIY projects. I was planning to spend about $150 on supplies for the year, so this kind woman had just saved me about $35.

A few other customers were shopping in the same aisle, but that insider tip came directly from her to me in a wee whisper…and no one else. I think I know why.

It’s official. I am the Thrifty Lady.
I shop at this store once a week. The managers and employees are very helpful, chatty folks. I make it a point to talk with them whenever I’m there. As a result, they have begun to recognize me—and probably my odd habit of walking purposefully through the store, aisle by aisle, writing down sale prices.

I certainly try not to be obnoxious about it. I’m careful not to stand in people’s way. I bag my own groceries, even when the employees offer to do it for me. I never demand better deals on products. That’s not very (Thrifty) Lady-Like behavior.

It’s a little embarrassing. I remember my mother being the Thrifty Lady when my sister and I were kids. She had one of those small accordion folders stuffed full of coupons, which were organized alphabetically. It took us forever to get through the checkout line. I recall many days of staring longingly at the displays of candy bars while mom poked her fingers into that accordion folder, sifting through the tiny coupon papers.

But boy am I glad to have learned this habit from my dear mom! The lesson learned is this: often, it pays to be a loyal shopper, especially at local stores.

Family-Owned Stores & Co-Ops
This is not the first time that employees have clued me in to an upcoming, unadvertised sale. In fact, it happens a lot—at the grocery store, hardware store, the garden supply store, etc.

If you are a frequent shopper at a business, especially a family-owned / locally-owned business, people will start to recognize you after a while. They will mentally slot you into the category of “Special Customer,” and they especially want to keep you happy. This can translate into special deals. Of course, these relationships do take a bit of time and patience. But it will pay off!

farmer's market woman_Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Farmers Markets
The same applies for your local farmers markets. Before I started growing my own produce, I went to the markets every weekend to find seasonal goods. Always one to be sympathetic to the financial plight of farmers, I never asked for discounts. However, the farmers often recognize their loyal customers and will provide little incentives to keep folks coming back.

I’ve had farmers dig around in displays of greens to find me the biggest bundle (all bundles were priced the same), slip an extra few vegetables into my bag, or give me samples of vegetables I’d never purchased before.

Many sellers at farmer’s markets will often provide a discount if you provide your own packaging (e.g., bag, clam shell), as well. As an example, one of our local beekeepers provides a hefty discount to folks who return his glass honey jars.

Loyalty Pays!
Old-school customer loyalty (i.e., no rewards card required) can pay! It does take a wee bit of time, patience, and kindness toward your local sellers. But we could all use a bit more of those things, anyway.

Do you have a similar story to share? I’d love to hear it!
Feel free to leave a comment or contact me. Happy saving!

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