How to Save at Grocery Auctions

See how you can cut costs by bidding on, rather than buying, what you need.

ByABC News via logo
April 1, 2009, 7:03 PM

April 2, 2009 — -- There's a new way to save big on food and it's sweeping the nation: grocery auctions.

The savings are phenomenal. By bidding for groceries instead of buying them, "Good Morning America" found you can save 50 to 90 percent.

"GMA" went inside a grocery auction in New Haven, Ind. to see what this new phenomenon is all about.

There, Ken Frecker used to just auction off antiques, lawnmowers and sofas.

Click here to visit the National Auctioneers Association Web site.

But when the economy tanked, the bids started drying up. So, Frecker looked for a need to fill and started auctioning food.

"We don't do a lot of advertising," Frecker said recently. "We got a lot of folks come. We'll have 400 or 500 folks tonight, so by word of mouth, it's caught on."

There were a couple hundred different foods and household supplies for sale at the auction -- surplus goods like you'd get at a discount grocery store, dinged and damaged packages, and items that are close to their expiration date.

"So far, everything I've gotten here has been of excellent quality," shopper Dinah Thomas said. "I can't complain about the quality at all."

Here's how it works: Frecker gets people bidding on an item. When the price will go no higher, that's the price everybody pays. The crowd eats the auctions up!

"They're wonderful, especially if you're raising a family," Donna Monhollen said. "Really, right now, in this day and age, this is going to be the trick."

There's always somebody who catches auction fever and bids too high because they feel like they're winning something instead of buying it. But the veterans know when to bow out.

"I just kind of know what to bid from shopping in the stores forever, and if they go above and beyond that, then I just stop," Christina Immroth said.