Monday, March 16, 2009

Shelf Reliance's Planning Tool

I've been waiting for something like this for a long time.

One short form. Two EASY questions. Done and done.

Shelf Reliance has a food storage planning tool on their web site. It's new to me. I discovered it in connection with Shelf Reliance's new "Thrive Q" pay-as-you-go food storage acquisition program.

Now, I'm certainly not a shill for Shelf-Reliance or, more specifically, its Thrive product line - they tell me a 12 month supply of their full product line will run me $7,500, plus shipping! Just like their line of food rotation systems, you're paying a BIG premium for the convenience of their products (which are, admittedly, VERY convenient).

In other words, I'm a fan of their products. We own several of their "Cansolidator Pantry" units which work great for small cans in our kitchen pantry. (Buying tip: These particular units are available at our local Costco at a substantial discount versus buying them directly from Shelf Reliance - <$25 at Costco vs. $36 (plus shipping) on sale from Shelf Reliance.) Long-time readers will also recall my inexpensive, home-made and improved (for my needs) alternative solution to their Harvest 72" #10 system.

While I like Shelf Reliance's products a lot, I think their prices make for a bittersweet irony. Food storage in general is founded on principles of provident living, saving for a rainy day, preparing for the unknown. Yet, acquiring most any of their products would violate those very principles for a large portion of their potential customer base. 

Consider that the 2006 median household income for a family of five in Oregon (where I live) was roughly $60,000. The $7,500 food cost plus estimated $1,675 in storage cost (5 racks x $335 ea.) would bring the one year total for my family to $9,175 (plus shipping), or 15% of median family income. That's a HUGE investment. Granted, it IS an investment and it does not need to be acquired in just a one year period. But the overall investment is almost like buying two additional years' worth of groceries (at a $100/wk rate). 

This brings me to my point: Shelf Reliance's food storage planning tool is fast and free. I first told it how many people there are in my family, along with the age and gender of each person. I then specified the number of months I wanted it to calculate. That's it! The next page was a detailed plan of all of the food the company thinks my family needs, along with details of each (description, weight, price and extended weight and price based on quantity.) It is easy to email the list to yourself. You can also adjust the plan to account for 1) personal preferences, or 2) inventory you may already have. Now I have a checklist/shopping list for my own inventory.

There is no obligation to buy the food from Shelf Reliance. And this is where the premium price for convenience comes into play. An example: Sugar. Shelf Reliance estimates my family will need 225 lbs of sugar for 12 months. I can buy it from them in 39 #10 cans for a total of $430 (plus shipping). Alternatively, that same sugar, but in 25 lb bags, would cost me about $112 at Costco or a comparable local source.

On the one hand, Shelf Reliance's solution is conveniently packaged, durable and ready to store long-term. I just have a hard time reconciling the $350 price difference (and that's just for the sugar). I could buy my own dry-pack can sealerwith the savings.


S. Palmer said...

I wanted to leave a quick "Thank You" for the post about our company. I'm very appreciative anytime someone does a write up about who we are and what we do. I try to keep tabs on what is being said about our company as a way to improve our products and customer service. That's how I found your post.

I did want to clear up a few things though. It is very true that many of the items that we carry can be found for much better pricing. Anyone willing to do their own canning at the local Dry Pack, for example, will find pricing that doesn't compare to what you will find through an emergency company. It's always a good idea to look for items on sale and store them on your own when possible.

However, some customers find it convenient to just get everything at once. THRIVE Food Storage is definitely a premium name and you are paying for higher quality. Because we teach people to use their food storage, we need to make sure it tastes great:) We also offer some 60 foods more than is available through the Dry Pack.

The reason that our pricing seems so expensive when someone runs an order through the THRIVE Planner, is because our packages our built around a 2000 calorie diet. Most companies try to sell you a "year supply", but if you were to dig into the details you will find that they calories per day won't keep you alive very long. The buckets sold at Costco are a prime example of this. For $100 you can buy a 'three month' supply of food, but when you do the math you have to live off of 460 calories a day.

I also want to point out that we offer free shipping on any order over $199.

I've never commented on someones blog before, but thought I might offer some additional info. Thanks again for the post. I hope that it's okay that I added my two cents.


Steve Palmer
Co-Owner, Shelf Reliance LLC.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I love the concept and am a current customer of the Thrive food storage line. For me, it's worth the extra money to know that I'm getting quality food that has been handled and packed safely. It doesn't hurt that it's easy and affordable to "pay as you go"... Mr. Palmer, I'd like to thank you for helping me prepare for my family.

Leslee said...

WOW, I'm totally impressed that your blog is becoming so widely read. Maybe you will make a name for yourself in many areas. I think people should listen you to!!!