Whole Foods and Amazon to Start Offering Lower Prices on Grocery Staples on August 28th

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Amazon and Whole Foods Market recently announced that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market will close on Monday, August 28, 2017, and the two companies will together pursue the vision of making Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone.

Whole Foods Market, which will continue to operate under its own brand name, will offer lower prices starting Monday on a selection of best-selling grocery staples across its stores, with more to come.

Here’s what will be new in Whole Foods Market stores on Monday and what can be expected over time as the two companies integrate:

  • Starting Monday, Whole Foods Market will offer lower prices on a selection of best-selling staples across its stores, with much more to come. Customers will enjoy lower prices on products like Whole Trade bananas, organic avocados, organic large brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal-welfare-rated 85% lean ground beef, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic Gala and Fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken, 365 Everyday Value organic butter, and much more.
  • In the future, after certain technical integration work is complete, Amazon Prime will become Whole Foods Market’s customer rewards program, providing Prime members with special savings and other in-store benefits.
  • Whole Foods Market’s healthy and high-quality private label products—including 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch—will be available through Amazon.com, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry and Prime Now.
  • Amazon Lockers will be available in select Whole Foods Market stores. Customers can have products shipped from Amazon.com to their local Whole Foods Market store for pick up or send returns back to Amazon during a trip to the store.

The Fulkerson Hardware Store in Somis is Ventura County Historical Landmark No. 128

If you are ever passing through Somis from Camarillo, you will likely be passing by the historic Fulkerson Hardware Store at 3403 Somis Road

The Fulkerson Hardware building was designated a Ventura County Historical Landmark on July 1991. This one-story stucco structure was originally built in 1925.

Fulkerson Hardware was founded in 1912 by Jonathan Fulkerson and this structure sits on the foundation of the original hardware store.

The store is still family owned; Fulkerson's grandson Bob is the proprietor today. Jonathan's brother James opened the first business in Somis in 1892, a blacksmith shop.

You've got to step back into history and check this store out. It is jam packed with items and if you can't find what you need, ask Bob. In a corner of the business is "Jack's Museum." Jack is the son of the original founder and Bob's father. Quite a bit of local history on hand in here. Call 805.386.5795 for hours.

History on display in "Jack's Museum" at Fulkerson Hardware

History on display in "Jack's Museum" at Fulkerson Hardware

If you stop by, grab lunch or breakfast at the nearby Somis Cafe and Market, which has been a Somis staple since 1974.

Somis is an unincorporated city of about 3,000 residents in Ventura County that was established in 1892. The name Somis means “water of the scrub oak” in the Chumash language, indicating the presence of water.

My two other favorite things to do in Somis is visit the more low key Underwood Family Farms location and the Somis Nut House. And there you have it.

Side of building at the corner of Somis Road and Rice Street

Side of building at the corner of Somis Road and Rice Street

Ventura County Area Public Agencies Auction Off Surplus Items at PublicSurplus.com

Shh, don't tell anyone about this little secret...many local Ventura County public agencies auction off stuff they don't need on a website called www.PublicSurplus.com!

Public Surplus is an auction website that was designed specifically for public agencies, enabling agencies to manage their surplus inventory, while  maintaining compliance with State regulations and policies. The system's specific features allow for the reallocation or auctioning of surplus items without actual, or the appearance of: waste, favoritism or collusion.

I happened to come across the site through the County of Ventura website but it took a little digging to find. But a quick search of the site indicated that a number of other Ventura County agencies are signed up to auction items off on the site, including:

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Buy Gift Cards at Costco and Save a Lot of Money Elsewhere

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If you're not already a Costco member and have no intention of becoming one, gift cards are a reason to consider a Costco membership. Costco offers an assortment of gift cards for sale at bargain prices; typically 20% off.  A $55 annual Costco membership fee can quickly be recovered if you use these cards. Here's a summary of what several (Oxnard, Westlake Village and Simi Valley) local Costco stores either currently have on hand or have carried in the past.

  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (also available online)
  • Buca di Beppo $100 in gift cards for $74.99 (online)
  • Smashburger $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (online)
  • CPK $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (online)
  • P.F. Chang's $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (online)
  • MB2 Raceway: $100 in gift cards for $79.99
  • Peet's Coffee & Tea $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (available online)
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop $100 Gift E-Cards for $79.99 (available online)
  • Cinemark Theaters 4 Pack for $33.99 (available online)
  • 24 Hour Fitness discounted 2 year memberships
  • Baja Fresh $100 in gift cards for $79.99 (online)
  • Cold Stone Creamery $100 in gift cards for $69.99
  • Yogurtland four $25 gift cards for $79.99

All of this of course is subject to change and availability.

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A Visit to the New ALDI Store in Simi Valley

We live in the Conejo Valley and like most folks, most of our grocery shopping is done at nearby stores...Albertsons, Trader Joe's, Costco, Ralphs, Sprouts, Smart & Final, and so on. But German grocery store ALDI opened in Simi Valley in June and we wanted to check it out.

ALDI is an abbreviation for Albrecht Diskont, or Albrecht Discount, named after founders Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946. You may already know that ALDI is the parent company to both the Trader Joe's chain (purchased in 1979) and the ALDI store chain. That said, this ALDI store looks and feels nothing like a Trader Joe's store (to me at least). ALDI is one of the world's largest privately-owned companies.

The Simi Valley ALDI store is located at 425 Cochran Street in Simi at the Plaza, next to PetSmart and Party City and sandwiched between nearby Walmart and Home Depot.

The first thing you'll notice is that you'll need a quarter as a deposit to get a shopping cart. Place the quarter in the slot and the cart is yours; the quarter will be returned when you return the cart. If you don't have a quarter handy, not to worry; the folks working at the store were happy to lend a quarter for a cart when I was there.

I found the store to be on the "spartan" side, to some degree like the Fresh & Easy stores that are long gone, but lighter and brighter and the shelves were not as high. To keep costs low, the chain does not carry anywhere near the number of items that a typical grocery store carries. This does seem to pay off in that pricing is quite low.

This particular visit I was not planning to do my complete grocery shopping, including refrigerated items, etc. This visit was mainly to acquire snacks for the household. The first aisle as you walk into the store has quite a large selection of items, most of which are ALDI brands. We enjoyed exploring the snacks and piled our cart with reasonably priced items.

As you can see in the image to the right, ALDI brands like Millville look quite a bit like well known brands. "Fruit Rounds" at only $1.19/box looks good to me. And "Crispy Oats" looks a bit like, ahem, Cheerios.

The snack and wine aisle. My favorite aisle.

The snack and wine aisle. My favorite aisle.

As you can see above, the aisles are fairly wide and easy to navigate. We found a lot of great snacks and interesting items throughout the store, then went to pay.

ALDI does not provide paper or plastic bags, so do bring your own reusable bags or you can buy them at checkout. And when you check out, they do not bag your items for you. They scan the items off of the belt and place them back into your cart. From there, roll your cart a few feet away to the self-bagging area. 

To learn more, visit www.aldi.us. The Simi Valley location is the only ALDI in Ventura County at this time. The next closest store is in Inglewood at 3330. W. Century Blvd. (about 6 miles from LAX).

Bag your items here and you're on your way.

Bag your items here and you're on your way.

Post-Thanksgiving Midnight Madness Sales Around Ventura County

After a long day of cooking, football games, eating, drinking, eating more and enjoying time with our families, most of us, well, me at least, just wants to sleep. But for others, post-Thanksgiving nighttime activities commence with Midnight Madness...looking for bargains around town while others snooze.

Here's what's going in the wee hours of the night when the leftovers are safely wrapped in the fridge at the start of the 2013 shopping season. Note that a number of stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day, while others are holding out for midnight on Black Friday.

Camarillo Premium Outlets: The Outlets are getting a jump on Midnight Madness as nearly 40 stores open at 6pm Thanksgiving Day, another 10 at 8pm, 5 more at 9pm, 4 at 10pm and the final 2 at 11pm. Then on Friday, stores will be open from midnight until 10pm. Visit www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/sales.asp?id=20 for details.

The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks: Select stores are opening late on Thanksgiving Day, including nearly 20 stores at 8pm, including JCPenney and Macy's, then another few open at 10pm. When the clock strikes midnight on Friday morning, another 32 stores and eateries open (hey, how cool would it be to order a Hot Dog on a Stick at 3am...well, now's your chance). Then there are some stragglers, including Swimspot at 5am, another 7 stores (including Paciugo Gelato...yum!) at 6am, then not but not least Nordstrom opens at sleep-friendly 8am along with 7 other stores. Details at shoptheoaksmall.com/Events/Details/188700.

Most Toys“R”Us stores nationwide will open at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, and will remain open until 10pm on Friday. Local area Toys"R"Us stores in Thousand Oaks (Janss Marketplace), Calabasas, Oxnard, Simi Valley (Simi Valley Town Center), Ventura and Woodland Hills.

The Pacific View Mall in Ventura follows suit on Thanksgiving Day with 18 stores opening at 8pm, including Macy's, Target, JCPenney and Sears and a handful of others at 9pm to 10pm. Then all stores open at midnight. I want to know...who's going to be chowing down at Panda Express at 9pm after a big turkey dinner!? Well, I guess the good thing is that they don't serve turkey there! More details at shoppacificview.com/events/BlackFriday_2013.

Most Macy's stores across the country open at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day until 10pm on Friday. Imagine spending 14 hours straight in a Macy's! Now's your chance! There are Macy's at The Oaks in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley Town Center, as well as in Woodland Hills. More at www.macys.com/index.ognc.

At The Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard, Century Theaters are open from 10am to 10:30pm on Thanksgiving Day and Target and ULTA open at 9pm. Then at midnight, several more stores open for business.

Best Buy Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Woodland Hills and Simi Valley Town Center locations open at 6pm on Thanksgiving night and stay open until 10pm on Friday. The Oaks Mall Best Buy hours are 8pm on Thursday to 9pm on Friday.

Walmart has Black Friday specials starting at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day news.walmart.com/news-archive/2013/11/12/walmart-announces-plans-for-black-friday-2013.

That should be enough to start your holiday spending sprees early in the game!

New LEGO Store is Now Open at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park

Please, don't tell my kids that there's a new LEGO Store at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park! I've lost track but I believe my house contains a college education's worth of LEGOs!

Yes, for several weeks now, the newest and now closest LEGO Store to Ventura County has been open. It is located on the first floor of the Topanga Mall near Target and across from the Baby Gap store. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m on Sunday. Call 818.884.8597 or visit stores.lego.com/en-us/stores/us/topanga for more information. The mall is located at 6800 Topanga Canyon Road.

Previously, the closest LEGO Store to us here in the Conejo Valley / Greater Ventura County area was at the Glendale Galleria. My kids have an insatiable appetite for LEGO sets and nearly every room in the house shows signs of LEGOS.

Roughly 1% of the LEGOs in my house.

But wait...you can celebrate the grand opening of the LEGO Store at Westfield Topanga on September 27-29, 2013 with a huge LEGO Master Build event!

Join in and help a real LEGO® Master Builder construct an 8-foot tall model of Yoda™ completely out of LEGO bricks! You'll receive a free Certificate of Achievement for participating! This event will take place on Friday, the 27th from 11am-7pm, Saturday from 10am-6pm and Sunday from 11am-7pm.

Be one of the first 300 people each day to make a qualifying purchase at the LEGO Store and you will receive one of the following giveaways:

  • Friday, September 27: Free Collectible LEGO T-Shirt with a $50 Purchase!*
  • Saturday, September 28: Free Limited-Edition LEGO Store Set with a $75 Purchase!
  • Sunday, September 29: Free Exclusive LEGO Minifigure Set with a $50 Purchase!

Offers valid while supplies last only. *T-shirts are available in child sizes only.

Interesting and Amazing Facts and Tidbits About LEGO® Blocks