March 7, 2013

local love: bulk barn

I mentioned earlier that Canada is full of the good, the bad and the utterly mind-boggling. A prime example of all 3 of these qualities rolled into one is Bulk Barn.

This place is basically every type of spice, seasoning, drink powder, cake mix and gummy candy you can imagine piled high in clear, plastic bins. You serve yourself using conveniently located bags, twistie ties and scales.

Check-out runs according to the honor system. The cashiers don't know if you're buying a pound of hot cocoa powder or gluten-free brownie mix {they look identical but one costs 3 times more than the other}, so they look to you to tell them what you've got.

This was my first trip to Bulk Barn as an actual customer {and not just some creeper ogling the candy bins} so I decided to be honest... but something tells me I was the only person in line concerned with my karma.

That lady with the clearance-priced lemonade powder looked suspiciously like the one I saw filling a bag with low-fat banana muffin mix. Hmm.

The good: everything is in bulk. And who wouldn't love seeing how many Raisinets they can squeeze into one bag? A movie theater-size box isn't enough for you? Come on down to Bulk Barn and don't get just one, but two pounds of sugary shame. No one will judge you because they're all guilty of the same thing. That's the beauty of Bulk Barn. It's a fantastic premise. 

The bad: some of the bins kind of look like trash cans with their plastic liners and there's a certain thrift store feel to Bulk Barn with its fluorescent lights and employees breaking down boxes in the middle of the aisles. But it's kind of bad in a good way. Awesomely bad. 

The mind-boggling: beyond the cereals & soup mixes there's a whole world of bulk oddities for sale. There's a refrigerated case with bulk grated Parmesan cheese; a honey-dispensing machine complete with take-home tubs; vats of shortening and buttercreme icing; and soap made from emu oil? There's even a bin full of bully sticks for your canine friends (yes, those bully sticks).

All in all, there's something completely awesome about Bulk Barn. Maybe it's the cloying smell of sugar in the air or the unnaturally colorful aisles full of pinatas and gumballs {I forgot to mention, Bulk Barn has a thing for pinatas}.

Or maybe it's the fact that a lot of Bulk Barns are inside of malls so you can effectively carry your baggie of breadcrumbs into Coach while you shop for a trendy tote. I don't know what it is that excites me so much when I see one of these stores, but it's a Canadian institution that's weaseled its way into my commercial-sized, price-club loving, bulk-buying American heart. Bully sticks and all.

{Editor's note: Several gummy sharks were harmed during the making of this blog.}

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  1. So weird! But I guess more environmentally friendly buying in bulk without all the packaging with it. The candy bins look like fun :)

    1. Holly, those candy bins are dangerous!

  2. Shopping like this looks like fun! But I guess I would make a big mess of products like honey. If I would use that kind of machinery, it would probably get stuck and the honey would keep coming!

  3. Have you ever thought of joining, and writing for, YELP?

    You should, a friend of mine does and he gets great deals at restaurants. Anyway, just a thought.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I signed up and wrote a couple of reviews. I'm not sure how the deals/discounts work, I'll need to read up on that.


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