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  • T H E L E W I S T O N T R I B U N E

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2009

    BUSINESSE

    I N S I D E :MARKETS: 2ECLASSIFIED:

    5-12E

    Low ... lower ... lowestMortgage rates drop to lowest point in decades P A G E 2 E

    SECTION EDITOR: Susan Engle / scengle@lmtribune.com / (208) 848-2228 BUSINESS REPORTER: Elaine Williams / ewilliam@lmtribune.com / (208) 848-2261

    What Lewiston-Clarkston Valley consum-ers put into their carts may have a larger effect on how much they spend on groceries than where they shop.Thats one of my theo-ries after participating in a nonscientific compari-son the Lewiston Tribune recently completed at this communitys larg-est supermarkets Walmart and Albertsons in Clarkston and Safeway and Ro-sauers in Lewiston. We recorded the lowest prices of 20 staples, regardless of brand, at each of those retailers on Tuesday. (Seeaccompanyinggraphic.)

    The total from Walmart was the cheapest at $31.92. The worlds largest retailer was fol-lowed by Albert-sons at $37.29 and Rosau-ers at $38.25. Those totals dont include sales tax.Safeway was the most expensive based on all of the items other than pea-nut butter, which it didnt carry in the amount se-lected for the price check. Even without the peanut butter, Safeway came in at $37.41.But that in no way guarantees people who shop at Walmart spend less than those who go to other stores for a variety of reasons.

    I dont know how well the groceries on our list match with what an aver-age family purchases. It was the best guess of the Tribunes managing edi-tor, city editor and myself of some of what a typical household might need on a weekly basis. What your tastes are has

    a huge effect on how much you spend. Red delicious was the cheapest kind of apples at two stores. That point was underlined even more when we looked at the most expensive kind of three items. A loaf of sliced, packaged bread, for example, is as little as 79 cents or as much as $4.69.Prices can vary a lot from week to week and even from day to day, which is why we made sure all the comparisons happened on a single day. One of the most obvious examples of that is when Rosauers has its one-day sales.We recorded the lowest price even if an item was on sale. We have no way of knowing if stores actually ever charge the regular price. We didnt use coupons or deals that were only valid for a quantity larger than one on our list. But we did count club prices at Safeway and Albertsons because the stores offer the savings for free to anyone who is willing to provide nominal information such as their telephone number.And we found that Walmart didnt have the lowest price in every case.Albertsons, for instance, had six items that cost less than those at Walmart, even though in one in-stance the difference was only 1 cent. A 26-ounce loaf of Franz Oregon Bread Western Hazelnut cost $4.19 at Rosauers compared with $4.34 at Walmart on Tuesday. I noticed that only because at Walmart the bread was one of two kinds that were the most expensive and Rosauers had its price

    for the item highlighted. That made me wonder how many other similar examples there would be if our research had been more comprehensive.Plus, judging what products were the same was more difficult than you might think, even when you dont consider ques-tions such as: Is the house

    brand of Walmart Great Value every bit as good as Rosauers house brand Western Family?Take chocolate chip cookies. We were looking for a 15-ounce package of regular chocolate chip cookies because my initial research indicated that might be a standard size. It turned out I was wrong. So

    in each instance we priced the closest thing.Manufacturers and stores also sometimes make side-by-side com-parisons a challenge. We didnt include some seem-ingly obvious staples such as toilet paper because packages contained widely

    Price checkComparison shows choice of grocery items, rather than speci c grocery store, more likely to determine what consumers pay

    G R O C E R Y G U I D E

    Tribune illustration/Steve Hanks

    How big a bite out of your budget do common staples, like those pictured above, cost

    you at local grocery stores?

    CO M M EN TA RY

    Elaine Williams

    Clarkston drug store returns to its roots with inclusion of furniture section in basementBy ELAINE WILLIAMSOF THE TRIBUNEAspirin. Camera supplies. Couch.Thats how the list might read of a

    shopper heading to Wasems Drug in Clarkston, since the addition of a new department that carries furniture and floor coverings along with providing design services to its customers.

    Unusual as that combination might sound, the manager of the depart-ment, Chris Schmidt, said its hap-pened more than once since the ex-pansion.

    Customers will stop by to pick up their prescriptions and head into the basement to check out what she has at The Design Center. Pretty soon theyre redoing their entire living room. Its incredible, Schmidt said. Twelve or 15 people are going Oh my gosh every single day.She selected brands at a range of price points so she can sell to the peo-ple at a variety of income levels who patronize Wasems. She credits that strategy with helping her grow what was already a strong business in spite of the economy. She had clients who waited during

    the months she was making the tran-sition from her former employer, In-teriors Etc. in downtown Lewiston, to Wasems. Now a whole new group of people have discovered her. Im just swamped. I havent noticed any de-cline whatsoever in my business.

    Schmidts department occupies the same space where Wasems stocks its line of gifts and art supplies, and wine- and beer-making equipment. The selection of that merchandise has been expanded by rearranging the displays to make more efficient use of the space, Schmidt said.The changes are a part of how Wasems is restructuring after the death of its public face and one of its owners, Clifford Wasem, about a year ago in a car accident. Schmidt has been the significant other of his son, Rick Wasem, for 29 years. They met when she worked

    in cosmetics at Wasems. The elder Wasem had encouraged Schmidt to bring her talents to Wasems. After Cliff Wasems death, the idea seemed to fall into place because it allows Schmidt and Rick Wasem to work more closely together, some-thing that is helping them recover from the loss. Though Cliff Wasem was 80 when he died, he still had an active role in the business. Like Rick Wasem, Cliff Wasem was a pharmacist and the desks of the father and son were close together.

    At the same time, the change hon-ors the history of Wasems, which de-cades earlier carried furniture. You just kind of feel like Cliff is going Yahoo, Schmidt said. Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@

    lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

    Wasems takes page from past

    Tribune/Steve Hanks

    The Design Center, owned by Chris Schmidt and Rick

    Wasem, is now open in the downstairs portion of

    Wasems Drug in Clarkston.

    Its incredible. Twelve or 15 pepleare going Oh my gosh every single day. ...Im just swamped. I havent noticed any declinewhatsoever in my business. CHRIS SCHMIDT, INTERIOR DESIGNER AND OWNER, THE DESIGN CENTER

    See PRICE, Page 3E>

    What kind of tree ts your style?By MICHELLE CHAPMANOF THE ASSOCIATED PRESSNEW YORK With images of spray-on snow and tacky plastic needles dancing in their heads especially after the craze for renditions in red many holiday pur-ists dismiss fake Christ-mas trees.

    Pragmatists tally the time and energy spent growing and buying a real tree and tending it indoors and see advan-tages in the artificial, however like not hav-ing to clean up needles and sap or even string lights in some cases.While environmental concerns weigh in favor of real trees and artifi-cial trees cost less over time, it may be most helpful to think of your tree choice as a question of style.Do you cherish brav-ing the chill winter air perhaps the whole family heading all the way to the tree farm to choose a tree to bring home and decorate? Or is the natural aroma of pine, spruce or fir outweighed by the pre-dictability of a perfectly triangular tree thats always the right height for your living room?Here are some ways to compare.

    1. PRICING THE TREEA real tree can cost less than $10 but typical-ly runs closer to $100 or more, depending on size and species. Artificial trees generally sell for $25 to about $400 but can hit $2,000, depending on size and features like lighting and stands and extras like storage bags. So a fake tree is likely to be cheaper once you spread the cost over the typical five- to 10-year lifespan.2. THE HASSLE FACTORReal trees can bring some real headaches. Even with proper water-ing, a pine purchased

    Real or ... fake?

    See REAL, Page 4E>

    CITY EDITOR: C

    raig Clohessy /

    cclohessy@lm

    tribune.com /

    (208) 848-229

    4 ASSISTANT CI

    TY EDITOR: Ran

    dy Thompson /

    rthompson@lm

    tribune.com /

    (208) 848-2270

    T H E L E W I

    S T O N T R I B

    U N E

    SUNDAY, DE

    CEMBER 6,

    2009

    NORTHWEST

    I N S I DE :

    Inside

    Northwest: 2C

    Obituaries: 7C

    HonoredUI rese

    archer receive

    s award

    P A GE 2 C

    C

    Happenings

    This weeks qu

    estion is:

    Would you fa

    vor the

    decriminaliza

    tion and

    taxation of m

    arijuana to

    increase tax

    revenues whi

    le

    reducing the

    cost of

    running our o

    vercrowded

    prisons?

    To vote, visit o

    ur Web

    site, www.lmt

    ribune.com,

    and look for th

    e poll

    question in the

    righthand

    column.

    Respondents a

    re not

    allowed to ca

    st more than

    one vote per