I just got back from a mini vacation to Lancaster County, PA. My husband and I have been visiting the Amish since we first got together and were absolutely broke. On our first trip we stayed with a Mennonite family and paid a whopping $25 per night for a very nice clean room with a shared bath. We had a blast that first trip. We drove and drove exploring the area. I packed a lot of food but we also ate out. One thing we learned going to Lancaster was to ask the locals where to shop. We bought a lot at roadside stands but we also found Kaufmann's, a sort of supermarket that sells to the Amish. They sell in bulk and they are cheap. This trip I bought a big bag of brown rice for five dollars. I also got a big bag of oatmeal for three dollars. They have great stuff and although I typically spend $100 there, it's still a bargain. I can get by for months without buying staples. I've never found any place cheaper. We also got a big box of peaches for ten bucks. There must be 25 pounds in that box. Everything is good in Lancaster County. I miss going there. I haven't been since I moved off Staten Island. The trip is a lot longer now and the price of gas makes a big difference but I still want to go once or twice a year. We now stay at a Marriott that gives a nice free breakfast, but we still go to the Salvation Army and Goodwill Stores. It was raining on Saturday so there wasn't much tagging but by asking for the discount I found out that the Goodwill Store had a kind of overflow shop next door where prices were a lot lower. 85 cents for any piece of clothing in the bin. I picked up a beautiful navy blue cashmere sweater that smells like it just came from the dry cleaners. I'm happy. It was cheaper than any yard sale.
One last point about asking the locals. When I moved up to the Hudson Valley and started meeting people, I would always ask where was the best place to shop. I got a lot of information that way. I discovered that a store that I perceived as too pricey, had some really great deals. They sold smoked salmon bits for a few dollars a pound so that I can make myself cream cheese sandwiches with salmon on the cheap. Always ask around. I also found a new thrift shop I like by just asking.