Rural shopping can be tough for you if you are not used to it. The stores are few and far between, and the selection is usually pretty limited. However, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your shopping experiences in a rural area.
With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can find everything you need—and maybe even some things you didn’t know you needed! Here’s how to shop when you live in a rural area:
1. Make a Rural Shopping List—and Check it Twice!
Before heading out to the store, sit down and make a shopping list of everything you need. This will help you stay focused while you’re shopping and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
It’s also a good idea to check your list twice before leaving the house to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Not only that but with rural shopping, the stores may not always be open like they are in the cities.
You don’t want to have to gas up again to go out for another hour or more ride to the market adding to the cost of the shopping itself.
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2. Shop Around Before Purchasing
When you live in a rural area, it’s important to compare prices at different stores before making any big purchases. Gas is usually (but not always) cheaper in rural areas, but groceries and other necessary items can be more expensive.
By taking the time to shop around, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on everything you need. However, in some rural areas, you may not have choices unless you shop online or grow your own food.
However, when you see something on sale as I did with butter this past week, I purchased double what I needed to keep it in stock. Why pay $6.99 for butter when you can get it for $3.50 on sale?
But like with eggs, if you don’t use them up quickly you are best NOT to stock up as they will most likely have to be thrown out as they go bad. Of course, you could use eggshells in your garden.
3. Get Creative with Rural Shopping
There’s no shame in getting creative when shopping in a rural area. If your local grocery store doesn’t have the specific type of cheese you’re looking for, ask the manager if they can order it for you.
Or, if there’s an item you need that’s not carried by any of the local stores, try ordering it online and having it shipped to your home.
With a little bit of ingenuity, you can find anything you need—even in a rural area! There may be some local farmers and hunters that sell food in the area. Ask around and you may find more places to shop for things you hadn’t thought of.
The picture above of a Maine rope mat was purchased at a local craft fair in town. They can be the best places to find things for your rural area living. Where we live there is a month-long “mud season” and these rope mats are most needed to wipe off boots and shoes before entering a home.
4. Know Your Limitations
Finally, it’s important to know your limitations when shopping in a rural area. If there’s an item that’s just too difficult or expensive to find locally, don’t be afraid to drive into town or even order it online.
By being realistic about what’s available in your area, you can avoid frustration and disappointment when shopping for groceries or other necessities. I call first before going out on a long ride to be sure the store will be open that day. Sometimes, if they have no help they may shut down for a day or two.
I have an aunt when she first moved out west to a rural area, the pasta was limited. She could only find elbow macaroni and spaghetti. She could not find canned tomatoes from Italy like she used to get back on the East Coast.
6. Stock Up for Rural Shopping
One of the best things you can do when shopping in a rural area is to stock up on items when you see them. This may mean buying in bulk or simply purchasing more than you need at the time, but it’s worth it to avoid making multiple trips into town for groceries or other necessities.
Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and end up with an abundance of non-perishable goods that you’ll never use, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
And, who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you enjoy having a little extra food around the house.
7. Shop Online
Last but not least you can plan ahead and order things online. Of course, some areas may not receive deliveries as quickly as you would have in other areas of the country. You may not have postal delivery and you may need to go to a PO Box to pick up your mail as I do.
Shopping online has been a godsend because where we live we get a lot of snow in the winter. Who wants to go out driving an hour away to shop when you can shop online?
Conclusion of How to Shop In Rural Areas:
Rural shopping doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating—with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can find everything you need (and more!).
So next time you head out to shop, remember these tips and enjoy the experience—after all, there’s nothing quite like finding that perfect piece of produce at your local farmer’s market! What other tips would you add to this list for shopping?