Why Cooking Tools Are So Expensive At The Grocery Store

Grocery stores are built to anticipate your needs, which is why they often carry plenty of items that have nothing to do with food. At your local market, you can probably pick up toilet paper, shampoo, and pet supplies along with your meats and veggies. This can be incredibly convenient if you don't have time to make multiple trips to other stores. However, these bonus purchases can often come at a cost.

The greatest price hikes in grocery stores are in the cooking tools section. It's probably tucked in the back somewhere, and you may have passed through it a dozen times on accident looking for dried beans or oat milk. In fact, you may have never noticed that the sheet pans and colanders in your grocery store are often far more expensive than they would be if you bought them elsewhere. This is because those items are usually stocked by secondary sellers known as rack jobbers.

What are rack jobbers?

Rack jobbers are merchants who pay for shelf space in grocery stores or convenience stores to sell their products to additional markets. Usually, these are the people selling non-food items in grocery stores since the grocery stores are likely sourcing their food items from specific vendors that wouldn't offer these kinds of items. These non-grocery items are typically restocked and inventoried by the rack jobbers, saving the grocery store management time and money.

It's a great deal for the rack jobbers, who can concentrate their wares without having to compete with dozens of other retailers in a big home goods store or outlet mall. And it makes sense for the grocery stores, which take a commission on top of the base price of each item. Still, it's not as great of a deal for the consumer since you're effectively paying the commission as well as the base price.

Where to buy cooking tools

If you plan, you might never have to suffer the indignity of overpaying for a grocery store corkscrew or cutting board. But sometimes things happen, like your spatula breaking when your best friend needs a batch of post-breakup chocolate chip cookies, and you just don't want to search for another option.

To avoid this, thoroughly check your recipe before you start shopping, and make sure that you have all the equipment. Many cookbooks will list the kitchen implements needed, but others will require you to read each instruction to find a hidden implement like a sifter or a microplane.

If you must buy new kitchen equipment, larger home goods retailers like Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Home Goods should have what you're looking for. You can also compare prices online with retailers like Amazon, Home Depot, or IKEA. Thinking ahead can save you quite a bit of money in the long run.