Loaves of "day-old" bread are certainly part of the inventory that Debbie Bailey stocks at the Wonder Hostess Bakery Thrift Store on Mercury Boulevard in Hampton.
But she also stocks new products, such as ketchup, pasta sauce and bags of Utz chips.
The Wonder store, one of two on the Peninsula, is set up much like a small grocery store. Bread, cereal, snack cakes, candy, chips, jams and boxed entrees fill the colorful space where Bailey bustles about helping customers and making sure no space is left empty.
But the "Black Line" items are what really make the Wonder shop a thrift store. The loaves of bread include two dates: A recommended sell-by date and the date that the store is required to pull the product from the shelf and destroy it. Bailey checks the date on each loaf as she stocks shelves and pulls down items that have past their second sell-by date.
"We eventually have to destroy those items, because they cannot be sold for human consumption," she explains.
The quality sacrifice is not immediate for the black line loaves. A quick check showed that all of the products inching toward their second sell-by dates were still soft and fresh. The compromise comes in the amount of time the product will last on your shelf at home.
The discounted loaves cost as a little as 79 cents; and Wonder's white bread is not the only brand on the shelf. Whole wheat and whole grain brands are available, as well. After the bread passes its second sell-by date, customers can buy five loaves for $1 as duck bread.
Other items are equally well-priced. Boxes of macaroni and cheese (with expiration dates six months out) sell for 59 cents. Some boxes of cereal sell for less than $1.50.
But smart shoppers still should watch the sales prices on items such as ketchup and mustard. Though Wonder's price -- $1.29 for a bottle of Hunt's ketchup – is reasonable, larger grocery chains have the item on sale for as little as 88 cents during the picnic season.
The Wonder brand is not the only bakery outlet on the Peninsula. A smaller Mary Jane bakery thrift shop is located on Route 17 in Yorktown, an Entenmann's store on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News and a Pepperidge Farm outlet in Williamsburg offer similar discount deals.
At the Pepperidge Farm thrift store, shoppers can find everything from cookies to Campbells soup to Godiva chocolates, much of it marked down by 50 percent. The 19-piece box of Godiva chocolates sells for $13.75 at the outlet, though it retails for $25, for example.
"This is a really great thing for large families," Bailey says of her Wonder store. "Church groups, school organizations and clubs come in here all the time to buy hundreds of loaves."
News to use
Mary Jane Bakery Thrift Shop. 1404 George Washington Memorial Highway, Yorktown.
Wonder Hostess Bakery Thrift Shop. 4002 W. Mercury Blvd., Hampton. 826-0252. There is another location at 12827 Jefferson Ave., Newport News. 874-7968.
Pepperidge Farm Thrift. Building No. 4 in the Williamsburg Pottery compound, 6692 Richmond Road, Williamsburg.