A very nice lady from Billings, Sandy, responded to my article on grocery prices between Billings and Bozeman:

"I read the post doing the price comparisons from Walmart... I did not realize Walmart pricing was the same in different parts of the state. Now, for the reason for this comment.  If you don't shop local, your downtowns will die out. If you shop big box stores, your money goes to their corporate office; it doesn't stay here in Montana. Wouldn't it be better to shop local and keep the money here? I get it, the big box store has cheaper prices.  But I've lived in other places where the downtowns died because of the big box stores moved in, and it wasn't pretty."

Thank you so much for this message, Sandy.  It prompted me to expand the research into local grocers in Bozeman and Billings.  I had returned to Bozeman for a wedding celebration, so I checked out Town and Country Grocers on East Main with a dozen items I recalled from my previous post.  And I checked out Lockwood IGA in Billings.

For this look at local stores, I focused on the less expensive store brand unless I have a go-to brand I use.  And Walmart is thrown in to show the difference.

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Here are the comparisons:

Item                               Walmart / T&C Bozeman / Lockwood IGA

Whole Milk, Gallon              $3.26           $4.39                   $5.19

Dozen Eggs                        $1.43/half dz $2.89                  $2.99

Shredded Cheese               $2.22           $2.49                   $3.59

Coffee, 26 oz                       $8.73           $9.99                   $12.35

Franz Bagels, 6/pkg.           $2.98            $3.69                  $3.59

Progressive Soup                $2.18           $3.67                   $3.59

Campbell's Chunky Soup    $2.26           $3.75                   $3.39

Pasta, 16 oz.                        $.98            $1.69                   $1.75 - 2.29

Hunts Pasta Sauce, 24 oz   $1.34          $2.35                    $3.19

Cereal: Honey Oats              $2.67         $3.49                    $3.99

Pepsi, 2 liter                          $2.48         $2.69                    $3.49

All Laundry Detergent           $4.97        $10.29                  $9.39

Ice Cream, 48 oz.                 $2.78         $5.69                    $4.59

Just reporting what I found.

So where should a shopper go?

Depends.  If you agree with Sandy and want to support local business and keep the money in Montana, and you are able, then go for it.  I support local when I can.  Please just be very open-eyed about it.

Whatever store you choose, I strongly recommend the less expensive store brands.  There is almost no difference in the quality of products, by the cost difference can be significant.  Don't pay extra for a brand name, a logo or a mascot.  It adds up over time.

Local groceries will have specials or sales on certain items.  As a suggestion, check in there frequently and when they appear, by all means take the opportunity to stock up.

You work hard for the money.  Get the most mileage from your dollars.

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