WinCo Foods: 10 things to know about the grocery store

PHOENIX - If you don't have to pay high prices for groceries, why do it? Our Smart Shopper team compared Fry's, Safeway, Walmart and WinCo to see which chain has the lowest grocery prices.  

WinCo was the clear winner. But what is WinCo? It's not nearly as well-known in the Valley as Fry's, Safeway or Walmart.  Here are 10 things you may not have known about the Idaho-based chain.

1. NO STORES ON THE EAST COAST

WinCo doesn't exist on the east coast.  Texas and Oklahoma are as far east as the stores are located. WinCo has stores in Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. It was founded in 1967 in Boise, Idaho.

2. FREE RECIPES

They not only sell you the ingredients, they'll tell you how to cook them.  WinCo has more than 1,000 recipes on its website! You can search by occasion, method, dish type, ingredients and time!  To see them, click here. You can also bookmark your favorites!  

3. DID SOMEONE SAY FREE CAKE?

Have a one-year birthday celebration coming up? When you buy a 1/4 sheet cake or larger you receive a free smash cake! They're not available in all locations, but if there's a full-service bakery department, they'll make you one! Look for them in the bakery refrigerator or ask an employee-owner about them.  

4. SECRET SAVINGS?

You can save an extra 5-percent on top of the savings you already get for buying in bulk. Many of the items in the bulk bins qualify for a discount when they're purchased as a whole case/sealed sack.  According to the WinCo website, you should:

  • Ask if an item qualifies for the discount.
  • Place an order at your local store for a sealed case/sack of qualifying item.
  • Order will arrive, store will set aside for you and notify you.
  • Enjoy the savings.

Select items are excluded.

5. GREEN TAGS

Look for the green tags throughout the store!  Those are the sale items.

6. SEVEN VALLEY LOCATIONS

Not a lot. But you can find them in both the east and west Valley. Click here to find the location closest to you.

7. WALL OF VALUES

As soon as you walk in, there it is!  The Wall of Values has some of the best deals in the whole store. 

8. NO BAGGERS

There's nobody there to bag your groceries for you.  But if you're saving a few bucks, do you really mind slapping that bread in a bag yourself?  We didn't think so.

9. EMPLOYEE-OWNED

WinCo has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.That means employees are part owners of the company. When the store does well, the workers benefit. According to WinCo, employee owners become participants in this program after:

  • Working at least 500 hours in the first 6 months of employment.
  • Reaching 19 years of age.
  • Accumulating 1000 hours a year WinCo’s ESOP never involves contributions from the employees; all contributions are entirely made by the company.

10. THEY'LL ANSWER YOU

Check out WinCo's Facebook page. Clearly their social media manager makes a good faith effort at answering customers' questions.  And sometimes, the banter is pretty funny.  What's not to like about that, right?

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