Newcomers to Maui, I daresay, assume that shopping is like anywhere else in the USA. Well, it isn’t.
Some abide by the following rule:
Go to Costco first. If you can’t get it there, go to Walmart. If not, then Safeway. So on so forth.
For those who is not used to shopping in the United States, the plethora of choice may seem daunting and the similarity of names confusing. Is K-mart the same as Walmart? Is Walmart related to Walgreens? How is Foodland different from Safeway? Is Long’s another drugstore?
Locals know to buy their fruit and vegetables at Farmer’s Market to support local produce. Some say Costco is cheaper, though much is imported. I’ve heard that 90% of the “stuff” on Maui is imported. One furniture importer doesn’t bother importing bookcases because he makes more money from sofas that take the same amount of cargo space. That’s why bookcases are hard to find.
Every time I visit Safeway for milk and eggs, I shake my head in shock at the price of groceries, even after the Club Card discount. Although Hawaiian state sales tax is 4.66%, the prices of most goods are inflated compared to mainland USA.
After you’ve been here awhile, you learn to shop when there are discount deals. Keep the purchased goods in storage until you need them. You learn to buy in bulk and split with others. You learn to visit Long’s Drugstore on the weekends rather than during the week. You learn to watch out for the free Maui Wrap that comes with weekly deals from Safeway and Foodland.
Gasoline, as necessary and ubiquitous as it is, requires smart shopping too. I applied for the free Kamaina card from 76 gas station. It gives me a 15% (or 15 cent?) discount on Sundays. Without it, I pay $3.98 per gallon. [I’m not complaining because it’s $8 per gallon in the Netherlands!]
Although Wholefoods (next to Long’s Drugstore at the Maui Mall in Kahului) is considered “expensive” by local standards, surprisingly their selection of wine and beer is a bargain — compared to those elsewhere, except I have found 2 bottles of white wine for $7 at Long’s.
Without a doubt, if you’re planning to stay here for any length of time, be sure to apply for the free store cards and use them whenever you can.