Three Rivers Market opened at their location at 1100 North Central Street in Knoxville in August, and I had the pleasure of recently having an official tour of the new store. I’ve shopped there for a few weeks now, and I thought you might like to learn some more about the new building, what you’ll find there, and ways to save.
The building was designed and built to LEED specifications though it was not officially certified an LEED building due to the added cost. The natural light and open floor plan is what I first noticed about the new location—a big difference from the old store on Broadway. What I learned from my behind the scenes tour were the other steps they have taken to make the building as eco-friendly as possible. Tanks in the back drawing heat off of the refrigeration unit to pre-heat the water. They added special insulation panels on the roof to make it more energy efficient. They chose to use the foundation and some parts of an existing building instead of starting from scratch. They compost everything they can and share that compost with local farmers. They have recycle bins in both the back and front of the store to further reduce waste. Any food that is leftover is donated to Second Harvest so that others might be able to benefit. They were even installing reverse osmosis in the back when I was there. All-in-all, they strive to be have as low of a carbon footprint as possible.
The attention to detail did not stop with the design of the building. You’ll find flower arrangements in the bathroom and on the tables in the dining area, shelves that are neat and tidy, staff ready to help if you have questions, and well labeled products. The aprons that the clerks wear were made locally. Local, regional and bio-regional products are found everywhere. (Local means within 100 miles in TN, regional means within 275 miles or within the state, and bio-regional means within the Southern Appalachian area). Unlike some other stores, all of their produce is either organically, naturally, or locally grown. Local produce and meat even includes the name of the farm that grew it!
Speaking of their products, you’ll find the lowest price on Benton’s Bacon in town ($6.99/lb), breads from Hogan’s, Tellico Plains, and Harry’s, and cupcakes and sweets from Magpies. They’ve added 30% more to their bulk goods section, which now includes a grind-your-own almond and peanut butter section. You should plan to come hungry because the siren call of the fresh made sushi (no MSG, food colorings or additives) and hot and cold bar will definitely draw you in. When I was last there I had some of the best chicken and rice soup I’ve ever eaten! My husband joked that we’ll need to add another line to our budget that is specifically dedicated to shopping and eating at Three Rivers!
What about the prices? I’ve always told you all how much I like Three Rivers Market (TRM) because I’ve found their prices much better than some other stores. Does that mean you’ll find everything there as cheap as you can get it elsewhere? No, there are times when Kroger or Ingles has a better price with a sale, but there are also many times when I find a much better price at Three Rivers. When they moved to the new location, they lowered prices on more than 500 items! This means that you’ll see many of the same products they had at the other location for less!
I use a couple of tools to help keep my out of pocket expense as low as possible. First off, I’m a member of the co-op. You don’t have to be a member to shop at TRM, but you definitely score some extra benefits from being one. I receive 10% off on all case purchases. This means that when organic peanut butter is a great price, I’ll buy a case of it and get 10% off. Since TRM allows you to use individual coupons for each of the items in your case (unless the coupon limits the amount per transaction), I can score extra savings on top of my case and sale discounts.
Just like any other store, I encourage you to shop the sales. Bi-monthly TRM puts out a sales flyer (found on their website), and Money Saving Maine-iac regularly posts the matchups for these. I’ll add any local coupons that I know of to her list and post them as part of my weekly matchup listing on the blog. I focus on the coupon matchups when making my shopping list and am sure to make note of what items in the bulk section are on sale that week. When there is a good bulk buy, I stock up. I bring my jars and containers and fill them full of organic popcorn, beans, oatmeal, or whatever else that is sale. As part of the bi-monthly sale, TRM also highlights some produce deals. Sometimes these are good buys and sometimes these are fantastic buys, like better-than-the-price-of-conventionally-grown fantastic buys. Again, I stock up when the deal is hot.
TRM has a store coupon booklet called Co-op Deals that it publishes seasonally. They will allow you to stack the store coupons with manufacturer coupons, again unless the coupon specifies some sort of limitation. So, have you now tallied all of the ways I can save on that hypothetical case of peanut butter that I mentioned above? 1. Bi-monthly sale ad marks the organic peanut butter down to a great deal. 2. I am a member so I buy a case of it and receive a 10% off discount on top of the sales discount. 3. I have some manufacturer coupons that I can use for the jars in my case. 4. If there is a store coupon for that same peanut butter, I can stack it with my manufacturer coupon.
Know your price points and stockpile. If you want to eat more locally grown and/or organically grown foods, you’ll notice that the prices are usually higher than conventionally grown things. I might spend less than a dollar on regular cereal when I catch a sale, but for organic, I’m usually pleased to pay less than $1.50. As you start to shop for more organics, you’ll become familiar with what you are willing to pay for certain items. I know that organic oats will go on sale for less than a dollar a pound a few times a year, I wait for that moment, buy extra and stockpile the reserves to use until the next sale. Just like any store, you have to become familiar with the prices, get to know when things usually go on sale and buy extras when the deal is good.
- General info for the store—Located at 1100 North Central Street, Knoxville, TN 37917 . Phone--865.525.2069 Open Mon - Sun: 8:00 am 9:00 pm. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday. You can find their menus posted daily on their Facebook page.
- Three Rivers Market (TRM) is Knoxville's food co-op- 100% local and independent since 1981
- Will not accept expired or competitor coupons
- Additional savings available through Co-op Deals coupon booklets—watch for them in the front of the store or ask store personnel. These coupons can only be used at Co-op Deals Stores/Three Rivers Market. TRM also clips coupons and makes them available on store shelves for customers.
- Will stack coupons—you can use the Co-op Deals booklet coupons with manufacturer coupons, unless the coupon states otherwise
- Become an owner of the co-op for extra savings! When you become an owner/member of the co-op you receive a special coupon sheet with over $14.00 in savings, extra sale prices on over 100 items throughout the store, 10% discount on all case purchases, and, starting in the new store, you'll be eligible to receive weekly member specials on select items throughout the store. For more information on membership, stop in the store and ask any store personnel for assistance.
- If you are an owner and are purchasing a case at a 10% discount, you can use coupons for each item in the case unless the coupon limits the number of uses per transaction. Ex—purchase a case of Annie’s mac and cheese, 12 boxes per case. If I have twelve 50ct/1 Annie’s coupons, I can use all of them. Some newer coupons now state “Limit 4 per transaction”. If the coupons say this, I can still use 4 for your case purchase transaction.
- Bi-monthly sales ad from Co-op Deals Stores with additional produce sales from Three Rivers Market. Go to www.moneysavingmaineiac.com or to my blog for matchups.
I hope that you stop by the new store and check it out for yourself!