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Customers going the extra mile for bargains

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Joe DeMello with bottled water, one of the most popular products at Cost Cutters in St David’s (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

With the cost of groceries inching ever higher in Bermuda, people are desperate for a good deal.

Since opening bulk store Cost Cutters in St David’s last August, Joe and Maria DeMello have attracted bargain hunters all the way from Sandys and Southampton to take advantage of their low prices.

Mr DeMello described Cost Cutters as “a cross between a bulk store and a variety store”.

“People are shopping around,” Mr DeMello said. “Everybody is looking for more affordable prices. The prices are reasonable, so they are willing to make the drive.”

Joe DeMello with cat food at Cost Cutters in St David’s (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Cost Cutters is a little off the beaten path. It is tucked away behind the Southside Police Station in St David’s at 1 Stocks Road.

“A lot of people say they did not know we were here,” Mrs DeMello said. “They thought we were just part of the police station.”

The DeMellos live in the area and feel they are also meeting a need for the East End.

“There are not many grocery stores or variety stores in St David’s,” Mr DeMello said.

“We have a little bit of everything.”

He described their prices as “reasonable”.

For example, they sell a double-size box of cereal for $14.75, a 1.54 gallon bottle of detergent for $24, and a pack of 15 rolls of paper towels for $28.

So far, their most popular products are water, paper towels, toilet paper and cat food.

“Snacks are also big,” Mr DeMello said.

But he is no fan of the sugar tax.

“If someone is going to buy a chocolate bar, they are going to buy one,” Mr DeMello said.

During the day, business tends to come in spurts.

“It is a little bit quiet in the mornings,” Mrs DeMello said. “We get busier later in the day. Because we are at the end of the island some people stop in on the way back from work. They don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff and leave it in the car all day long.”

Mr DeMello said friendly service was one of the things that set them apart from other bulk stores.

”We also have beautiful parking,“ he said. ”And of course, our prices are reasonable.“

Some of their customers are other small retailers, who buy items such as cases of water then sell the individual bottles in their own store for a profit. Mr DeMello was fine with that.

“Whatever works,” he said.

So far, they have not done much advertising. News of their store has spread by word of mouth but they are hoping to start a proper advertising campaign soon.

“We are going to put something on social media,” Mr DeMello said.

He said there had been shortages of different products since the pandemic began but that it had started to sort itself out.

“It is starting to get a little better,” Mr DeMello said. “There was a shortage of cat food at one stage but now we are fully supplied with that.”

He has been in business his whole life, and at 72, he has no thoughts of retiring.

He said things at Cost Cutters were getting “better and better and stronger and stronger”.

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Published January 31, 2023 at 7:44 am (Updated February 01, 2023 at 8:03 am)

Customers going the extra mile for bargains

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