Cleaning Supply Co-Op

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I have a small cleaning business and on a visit to my mom's, it became apparent that she had a hard time taking advantage of quantity purchasing and paid a lot for smaller quantities because she and my dad live alone. We started, in effect, a tiny co-op of non-perishables.

At first, we just shared the cost of the larger quantities. (heck, it's my parents so I didn't even charge them for most of it. just enough to make them happy they were contributing) Well, a couple of other people thought it was such a good idea, they wanted in, so what we did was to have everyone, including me and my parents, put in $25 as a "base". This was to pay for the "stock".

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We do use coupons as often as humanly possible to save even more. We also add free samples in and 're-pay' for them to add to our account. Saved quart and pint bottles are filled and the current price put on them. We figure price by the ounce and a .25 charge is added on for each item. You save by the quantity cost alone, but the added .25 is a little boost you'll see below. (If you refill your own container, all the better!)

Now here's the cool part. Aside from getting your smaller quantities at large quantity saving, here are the other advantages. If you want out, you get the $25 back in full. If you are still there at the end of the year, you can opt to take back your savings in cash or, as we usually decide to do, we all go out for a lunch or movie or something as a treat. We call it "on the laundry"!

It almost makes doing chores fun? Well maybe not, but you get a little payback for doing what you normally do. Here's last years tally: 4 ladies, all in, estimated cost savings on products was about 42%, averaged 're-pay' of $1.50 a week each. We ended up with 326.75 in the account. Minus $100 in case we (haha) want to quit. $226.75 was dinner and a movie for all, (we saw "Happy Feet"!) plus one gal was having a tough time so the balance was voted to be given to her, $100 for Christmas presents for her kids! What fun! $3.82 was put back in the account for next time.

In our 'stock' list now : (most items are all varieties like liquid and dry or whatever) laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain products, shampoo and conditioner, toilet paper, body lotion, body soap, powder, liquid cleaners like pine sol and ajax, , sprays like 409, magic erasers, window cleaner, floor wax! Man, the list is too long to list, but almost anything that "won't go bad" is there.

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BTW - our 'store' is one wall of metal shelving in my basement and it's all on the honor system. If someone can't stop by, I'm out all the time so I'll bring things by if they are busy and can't make it over. Wow! free pea-pod too? I forgot about that one! LOL, I hope you can use this or adapt it to your needs. Just goes to show you that you don't need a lot of people doing a lot to a lot of good things! We are having 3 more join in the next month too! yay!

By Kathy from Warwick, RI

January 23, 20070 found this helpful

This is something I think I'm going to try when my kids are leaving the nest. They'll know which products work great since I've been using them for years, and we'll have a way to save money! Woohoo for your tip! Thanks a bunch!

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March 19, 20120 found this helpful

Wow Not a good idea at all! Any time you repackage a product, you assume all responsibility for it. How good a friend do you think your neighbor is going to be after their daughter drinks your little bottle of 409 and dies? I've been down this road and it's not pretty. A million dollar lawsuit is going to cut into your profits pretty hard don't you think. It's not even safe to do in your own home. Check out Consumers Reports for some horror stories on this.

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March 20, 20120 found this helpful

What a great idea. Just goes to show you, there are still decent people in this old world. Your parents are so lucky.

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March 20, 20120 found this helpful

This is a fabulous idea. Unfortunately I'm not 100% sure how it works - hopefully I can get a group of people together who can discuss this and someone can understand. I would love to do something like this because it always irritates me, spending money on those types of things.

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March 26, 20120 found this helpful

ta597 sounds like to me you might need to keep a better eye on your kids. It must have been along time since you have had any kind of trust in anyone. I'm sorry for this but sometimes you can't look at the negative. This is why you surround yourself if people you can really trust and come to love. I think this is a great idea so far way to go. Thanks for sharing.

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