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I keep stumbling across people on different forums wondering how to find good deals on food grade buckets. I was one of those people two weeks ago. I read countless posts on going to your local bakery, grocer, deli, etc and just couldn't bring myself to do it. I figured "Ya right, I'll waste more time driving around and dealing with grumpy shop owners that don't want to deal with me."

Well I was DEAD WRONG. My cheapness got the best of me so I bit the bullet and picked up the phone. My results??

15 minutes of 9 phone calls + Two lunch breaks of running around + $34 =

5 - 5 gal cans
1 - 4.5 gal can
38 - 3.5 gal cans
35 assorted lids

I started doing this last Monday. It really is easy to pull this off. Especially this time of year, bakeries are going through the frosting. It's a little intimidating at first but most places are more than happy to help out and the most I've been charged was $1 a piece.

BIG TIP!!!

Friendliness pays! Show interest in what they have to offer or better yet buy something while you're there! Tell them how good their cookies are, or how good their soup smells. First place I chatted with the girl behind the counter and bought a $2 brownie she had just made. I already had my buckets, I just wanted to build a working relationship. The next day I was having lunch at a cafe and asked the gal about them. She took my number and CALLED ME last night to let me know she had two waiting for me. I've been invited to come get more at 4 of the six places I've gone.

Don't be the brooding creepy guy that's in a hurry or trying to put them out, or haggling because you're missing a lid. A little courtesy and a smile can go a long way especially in these stressful times.

I just wanted to pass this info along in case there were any fence sitters like me out there, and I figured a new thread would get more attention then being buried in one that 3+ pages long and weeks old.
 

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Dude, wonderful advice! Most posts on bucket-obtaining don't detail finer points like building relationships that yours did, and who knows, eating a $2 brownie [Oh, the pain...not! : ) ] might someday also bring someone 'round to prepping. Very cool.
 

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cute is not always enough
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I finally screwed up my courage and started asking the people at the bakeries I shop at. After the first three strikes I though I was out but the fourth shop proved to be willing. Now I collect about three 4gal buckets a week. I do not always get lids and the lids they have are not good ones. Considering the buckets are free, I am not complaining.

+1 on the friendliness. I try my best to be as un-demanding as possible. Some got tossed? no problem. No lids? I need a mop bucket any road. These folks are going out of their way for me and I really appreciate that. I do have some worry that they might get spanked by their management.

It is kind of funny when I walk out of the store. I always buy some goods (need them anyway) but I just walk out with the buckets and the cashiers never say a word. Makes me wonder what I could social engineer. I am not going to scam anyone but knowing how others can scam me is valuable.
 
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