Anyone who's stopped into Whole Foods hoping to pick up a few staples without blowing a week's pay knows just how difficult that can be. From the crippling number of pasta sauces and pita chips to choose from, to the borderline ridiculous markups, it's rarely a pleasant or fiscally prudent experience.
Fortunately, there's the new online-only grocery store Brandless, which makes it much easier and cheaper to stock up on the stuff you need, by only offering a smartly edited slimmed down inventory of items -- none of which cost more than $3.
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As its name suggests, Brandless doesn't sell any flashy branded items. In fact, everything on its e-shelves -- from food and household supplies, to beauty and personal care products -- is stripped of anything but basic packaging: a name, description, ingredients, and nutrition label. Every product is essentially an even more generic version of whatever your local grocery store's generic brand is (eat your heart out, 365 Everyday Value).
Its explicit lack of branding on products -- combined with a slimmed down stock and direct-to-consumer business model -- is precisely why Brandless can afford to charge just $3 for entire bottles of organic extra virgin olive oil, tubes of facial moisturizer, bags of coffee, packs of blueberry flax granola, and literally everything else it sells. It's expensive to maintain a leading national brand's recognition, and that cost is reflected in what the consumer is willing to pay for them at checkout. Strip that away, along with distribution costs, and voila: affordable groceries.
Brandless promises it isn't peddling subpar products with sketchy ingredients. According to its founders, it's as committed to quality as it is to keeping prices low. People with dietary restrictions and other concerns are in luck, too -- they have a pretty solid selection of gluten free, non-GMO, certified organic, certified Kosher, vegan, and no sugar added items. And while you might argue that you could find some of the items it offers for cheaper in your local grocery store (bags of rice and cans of beans, for example), when compared with similar quality generic items at places like Whole Foods, it's tough to beat.