By Marla Bronstein
It was the second Thursday of the month, a morning otherwise not unlike any other in that I had errands to run that included grocery shopping. I entered the Bellingham Grocery Outlet (BGO) on Ellis Street where my friend Kathy works. She saw me and smiled as me as I walked in. “Are you here for Senior Discount day?” she asked. I’ll admit, I was a bit taken aback. Me? A senior? How rude I thought and then responded, “How old do you need to be considered a senior?” 55 she reported. “On the second Thursday of every month from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. you can get a 10% discount on your purchases.” I have to admit that got me a bit excited. Full disclosure, I am a shade older than 55.
I did my shopping and as she rang up my purchases I happily reminded her that I qualified for the senior discount. I went home and immediately put a reminder on my calendar for the following discount day.
For one week I committed to asking for a senior discount every time I pulled out my wallet. I learned two things: First, it is HARD to remember to do something that is not part of my shopping routine – even when I wrote myself a note or asked the person I was with to remind me. Second, except for BGO, I don’t regularly eat or shop at places that have senior discounts.
When the second Thursday rolled around this month, my morning got away from me, and I found myself rushing over to BGO to catch the sale. I arrived with twelve minutes to spare. I was proud of my $4.50 discount that day. I rolled my cart back to the store after unloading my groceries just before noon and noticed Donna Merlina loading her full cart onto her bicycle bags. Not wanting to insult her (what if she wasn’t over 55?) I quietly asked her if she had benefited from a senior discount that morning. She was happy to share with me that she had. Donna’s husband calls it Geezer Day, and they make a game of shopping for deals all over town for things they like. She was happy to report she had received a $10 discount on her BGO purchases that day. That is greatness I will aspire to. She also told me that Fred Meyer also has a senior day for 55+.
I did some serious internet and door-to-door searching to find out what other places in town cater to the “elderly” like me. The Senior Citizen Discount Card (SCDC) is a free national program available to anyone 60 and older at every Whatcom County Senior Center. SCDC maintains a national website that lists the contracted businesses and the details of the discounts offered. It’s recommended that you call and confirm the requirements and terms of the discounts. I called a few of their businesses, a few of them are more flexible in their age requirements.
ReStyle Consign has a generous definition of “senior.” Even though they are only bound to the terms of the card, the store owner told me she would apply the discount for anyone 55+.
An employee of another business seemed a bit disgruntled when I called to confirm the discount advertised, as if I only wanted to shop there when I could get a deal. Isn’t that what coupons or for? They (we seniors) have earned our racing stripes. Cut us some slack! We aren’t being cheap, we are conserving!
Outside of SCDC, I happily identified a few places that offer discounts to younger senior citizens like me who are 50 and older. This would be my idea of a perfect week, capitalizing on many discounts around Whatcom County.
- Monday – spend a relaxing morning at the Silver Reef Casino enjoying a $55 spa service, $5 table games match play and 5-times slot points, then enjoy a 55% discount lunch at The Buffet, or $7.15 off lunch at any other restaurant at the Casino from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday – bowl at Park Bowl where they charge bowlers 55 and older $2.75 per game from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Monday – Friday. Make time to fit in some shopping at Fred Meyer on the first Tuesday of the month to receive a 10% discount on clothing, housewares and Kroger or Fred Meyer brand foods.
- Wednesday – shop at Bellis Fair Mall day where Christopher and Banks discounts 10%. (This offer is not available online.)
- Thursday – swing into Bellingham Grocery Outlet from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
- Friday – head into the weekend with a relaxing walk through Glen Echo Garden on the Y Road and receive a $1 discount off the regular entrance fee. Or bowl a few lines at 20th Century Bowl where bowlers 50 and older only pay $1.75 per line every day.
When traveling, another resource is seniordiscounts.com. They have a free membership, and a premium membership that costs $12.95, entitling you to additional discounts around the country. When possible, call ahead to confirm the discount advertised.
The final and most important piece of advice I will leave you with is to remember to ask for your discount. Because honey, you look great. No one will assume you are old enough to get a discount. Did we miss your favorite senior discount? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.