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Inflation has some East Texans doing alternate food shopping

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Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 2:20 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:07 PM CST
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Because of inflation and rising food prices, many East Texans are shopping at alternative sources to save money.

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - For most working East Texans, a budget includes paying for housing, bills, and, of course, food.

Inflation can challenge even the best budget as food prices continue to be impacted. But that inflation is now driving customers to alternative shopping.

On any given day, the parking lot of the Sasquatch Trading Post in Gladewater is full with food shoppers.

“We’ve seen a little bit of an increase in customers coming in, especially the way prices are going,” says owner Martin Pessink.

“I have my own family of three. I feed everybody in my family on about 60 to 80 bucks a month,” says worker and shopper Sam Pospychala.

Pessink started the business to help families with tight budgets.

“We are licensed as a salvage grocer. Items that are in dented cans, crushed boxes, torn bags. I hate waste, and that’s part of my driving force here,” he says.

He buys damaged and excess product from food companies, selling all of his product at 50 percent or less of its value, and business has increased.

“I say about 7 to 10 percent,” Sam says.

And they’re not the only one. According to analysts, foot traffic at Dollar General stores are up 32 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

But the problem now for the trading post is inventory. It’s a challenge to find suppliers.

“Butter. In December my price went up 25 cents a pound, yesterday it was up another 72 cents a pound. Items that we routinely stock, they’re just not available. Expect spikes on food prices again,” Pessink says.

With inflation up 5.4 percent from last year, analysts say the rise of dollar stores, some who’ve hiked prices to $1.25, is an example of how the pandemic has reshaped the economy and widened the gulf between the wealthiest and poorest Americans.

Which is why Pessink says his place is needed.

“It’s rewarding seeing folks with large families coming in here, making their money go farther,” he says.

Pessink also donates a portion of what he buys to food pantries.

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