Saturday, April 30, 2016

Winners is the best for us Picky Bitchez, and here's why

By Giselle Wedemire

I have a long and storied obsession with Winners (and Marhsalls, and TJ Maxx, if I’m in the US). If I’m having a rough day, or if I’ve got a bit of walking money burning a hole in my pockets, I almost always seek out the fluorescent lit aisles of my neighbourhood Winners in hopes of scoring a deal. Even if I don’t buy anything on a given trip, there’s just something about those stores and the requisite digging and scavenging for a deal that calms me.

This obsession predates my veganism by a number of years, but my commitment to a meat- and cruelty-free life has only bolstered my love for Winners stores everywhere. And for good reason, too: with their well-stocked, vegan-friendly options in their beauty, food, clothing, and accessories sections, stores like Winners et. al. are veritable vegan havens, if you know how to shop with a keen eye.

Photo via Wikipedia

Here are some things to keep an eye out for during your next trip to Winners:

Winners has a bomb food section that’s always brimming with tasty and niche vegan and gluten-free options. A few months ago, Mr. Picky Bitch and I scored two huge tubs of Vega Sport protein powder for $29 (instead of the usual $55 MSRP) and a massive bag of coconut sugar (which tastes great in vegan iced coffees). 

Other things to keep an eye out for: vegan/gluten-free cookies, chips, and baking mixes, flavoured coffees, and massive bags of dried grains.

The beauty section at Winners is tied with the food section for my fave parts of visiting my neighbourhood store. In the past, I’ve scored everything from all-natural vegan perfumes from Tulip to my holy grail co-wash (which is this stuff from Renpure).

Other things to keep an eye out for: Dr. Bronner’s soaps, Andalou beauty products, organic essential oils, Schmidt’s deodorants, Pacifica body creams, and China Glaze nail polishes.

There are some real gems to be had in the housewares sections of Winners stores, especially when it comes to their kitchenware aisles. A few weeks ago, I heard that Edmonton-based vegan doughnut purveyor Frickin' Delights went on hiatus and I decided that I needed a doughnut pan to tide me over until I can buy more of their goodies. And, as luck would have it, I scored a sweet doughnut pan at Winners this past week for $7. Yassss! All of the vegan/gluten-free doughnuts will be mine!

Other things to keep an eye out for: feather-free pillows and duvets, novelty kitchen utensils, soy candles, and whoopie pie pans* (for when the urge to make vegan/gluten-free whoopie pies arises).

I can’t say much for the accessories section aside from the fact that nearly all of my vegan purses have been purchased at a Winners, and they didn’t even come close to costing an arm and a leg. (Which is great because I don't think costing an arm and a leg would be very vegan...)

Other things to keep an eye out for: wool/fur-free winter accessories, silk/wool-free scarves, and leather-free purses/wallets (occasionally a crop of Matt & Nat accessories show up at certain stores, so if you see once, you need to pounce on it before the words get out).

I can honestly talk about how awesome Winners is all day, but instead, I'll leave you with this picture of the haul Mr. Picky Bitch and I got at our local vegan-friendly store of wonders (which is a name I just gave our neighbourhood Winners to make it sound more like it's straight out of Aladdin):

Pictured here: hemp protein powders, candied ginger (for an upcoming Menses Munchies post I'm work-shopping), and the doughnut pan that sets my heart aflutter.

Are you crazy-obsessed with Winners/Marshall's/TJ Maxx? What's the best deal you've ever scored there? Let me know!

*  I was drooling over a whoopie pie pan they had on sale for $10 a month ago. Sadly, I didn’t buy it for myself because I got frustrated with the very unreliable cookbook I was cooking out of at the time, and I didn't know if I should trust their admittedly fantastic-looking whoopie pie recipes. So the morals of the story are: a) if you see a whoopie pie pan for sale, buy it; and b) if you have reliable whoopee pie recipes, please send them my way!

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