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Monday, May 18, 2015

How I bought our new supply of bath tissue (and saved $26.89!)

Okay, so I mentioned at the end of my last post on ship to store shopping that I would be stocking up on bath tissue in the same way that I stocked up on baking soda.

I spent several days looking into the various places that I could buy bath tissue, including our local Cash and Carry, Dollar Tree, and a couple of office supply stores. Yes, online office supply stores.

Why would an office supply store carry bath tissue? Well, offices usually have bathroom facilities, right? And they have to keep some items (bath tissue, hand soap, paper towels) available for use in those office bathrooms, right? And a business would most likely shop in bulk, as I do, right? Well then. . .

Staples' website has a very long list of bath tissue to scroll through. I found a product similar to what I've been buying for many years, at Albertson's (a store-brand version of Scott's 1000). Although our family manages with a very inexpensive bath tissue, you should know that Staples' website carries Quilted Northern, Charmin, Angel Soft, Seventh Generation, Kleenex Cottonelle, and Scotts, in addition to the institutional brands that businesses/restaurants often buy, such as Brighton (the brand that I bought this time) and Tork.

It may be worth taking a look at their website, if you have a Staples in your area. If you use the ship to store option, you will save on shipping charges. You will have to drive to the store location that you choose to pick up your order.  If it's not inconvenient to make that drive, and Staples carries a brand that you would try, for less than your grocery store, then this might work for you, too.

About my purchase and my savings -- as I said, our usual brand is the Albertson's house brand of Scott's 1000. I buy it in the 20-roll package, for $14.99, on sale. I went online to Staples website, and bought Brighton 1000, in a case of 96 rolls. The individual sheets of Brighton are slightly bigger than the Albertson's brand. The list price at Staples was $51.79, or the equivalent of $10.79 for 20 rolls.

But wait, my price gets better. I put the case into my cart and looked around at other deals on their site. While I was doing this, the site put a special offer into my cart, good for 20 minutes. I knew I was ready to make this purchase, so I took the extra discount, an additional $6.73 off of my purchase, if I acted then. So, I did, of course.

My final price on the bath tissue was $45.06, or $9.38 for every 20 rolls (plus sales tax). I saved over $5.00 per 20-roll package, on our new supply of bath tissue, or $26.89 total, on the 96 rolls.

I could have had my order shipped to my home address, but instead chose to bypass the shipping charges, and have it shipped to my nearby Staples storefront, free of shipping charges. The online stores which offer this free ship to store option are hoping to just get you in the door and look around and buy more stuff while there. And probably many shoppers do just this. But, if you're like me and can walk in, pick up what you're after, and walk out, then there's no "spending-risk" choosing ship to store.

I do admit, I've never tried this brand, that I'm aware of. So, this was a roll of the dice on the purchase. But the way that I look at it is this. If we absolutely don't like this brand of bath tissue, then I never have to buy it again. My new supply will last us about 9 months. The very worst case scenario is we have to live with this for 9 months, then I am free to choose another brand. The very best case scenario is this product was satisfactory for us, and we saved money to put towards our financial goals. Either way, we saved a chunk of cash with this purchase.

It's hard to know how to compare the dollar value one brand of bath tissue to another. The sheet sizes are all over the place. And with two-ply, one-ply, you can't really compare the linear amount. And even when you think you have all things in consideration being even, the manufacturers can use a thinner tissue sheet for their rolls, giving the impression on the label that you are getting more mileage than you will, in practice. The bottom line, financially, is how how long will a dollar's worth (or $10 worth) of bath tissue last your family with the various brands.

My best method of calculating which bath tissue is the best deal is to actually time our use of bath tissue. I mark on a package when I open it. Then, when we finish that package (or fraction of that package, if I'm making a calculation based on a very large package, and don't want to wait that long), I calculate as follows: price of bath tissue divided by weeks of use we received. I can easily compare 1 brand to the next, based on our use to dollar ratio. It does mean that I will need to try a couple of brands/styles to reach my conclusion on which will be the better value for our family. Every time I've run this calculation on bath tissue, I've come up with 1000 sheet, single-ply as the most cost-effective bath tissue for our family, when sticking with a store house-brand, or now, with an institutional/restaurant supply brand.

All of this very lengthy post, just to say, look around at other possible places to buy your bath tissue. You may be pleasantly surprised where you find a great deal. And in case you're wondering, the case I bought was quite large in size, and didn't fit in my trunk! I had a dream about this very thing the night before, and found myself wide awake for an hour, strategizing how I would get this home. My default plan would be to open the case in the parking lot and unload into the trunk, roll by roll. (As it turned out, the case fit into the back seat of my small sedan, so no problem there.)


  1. Hey Lili,

    Congratulations on finding yet another way to save some hard earned dollars! I will definitely be checking the Staples Online for Canada.


    1. Thanks, Jayne.
      I hope you can find the same sort of great deal there.

  2. I never thought of marking how long a roll of toilet tissue lasts for our household to compare dollar value of toilet tissue. Awhile ago, I found a blog writeup (forgot to write down which blog it was on my scribbled notes) comparing price points on various "types" (thin/thick, one/two ply, and combination there of). I now carry this calculation, along with my handy unit price breakdown of frequently purchased items, in my purse to whip out anytime I happen across a good deal. I don't know exactly how accurate the following calculation is (I should cross check it with your method of dollar use value):

    1 ply THIN (Scott 1000, Marcal 1000): .0045/sq ft

    1 ply THICK (Charmin Basic, Scott Extra Soft, Cottonelle Clean Care and Gentle Care): .0085/sq ft

    2 ply THIN (Angel Soft, Seventh Generation, Up & Up, White Cloud, Charmin Ultra Strong): .01/sq ft

    2 ply THICK (Charmin Ultra Soft, Quilted Northern Soft & Strong, Cottonelle Ultra Comfort): .013/sq ft

    3 ply THICK (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, White Cloud Ultra Thick): .018/sq ft

    All said, it's a matter of personal preference, which is more important to your family, economy or plush. We favor the first three, husband is a bit pickier and likes Charmin Ultra Strong. Since I don't mind the most economical and insist at least I can use it, we have both types in the bathroom (yes husband mounted an extra toilet paper holder for himself).

    1. I do this, also, for calculating which shampoos are most economical. Since a thin shampoo might be used in greater quantity than a thick one. It's not as simple as just comparing unit cost from the tags on the shelf.

  3. Note also that the most economical is indeed the one that you like, Lili. so that double checks with actual dollar use value. Also the most economical is 4x cheaper than the most plush...


    1. Hi YHF,
      well, that's good to know! And knowing that what we choose is 4 times cheaper, well that's incentive enough,for now to keep on with this choice, for our family! Thanks!

    2. Also, I believe you have beat the recommended price point recommendation above. While the blogger's recommendation does seem a bit arbitrary (I recall maybe that it is based on her best price), I have chosen not to stock up if the sale price per sq ft exceeded the blogger's recommendation. So I did some math to find out the price per sq ft of your purchase and indeed it is less than the recommended .01/sq ft of Scott 1000, and if you match your purchase to other similar 2 ply tissues, then your purchase is an even better score!!

      I searched the Staples site for more information about the Brighton tissue which you purchased and did the math as follows:

      Each roll has 500 sheets, each sheet is 4" x 3.9" (15.6 sq in), therefore each roll has 7,800 sq in (54.167 sq ft)

      The price per roll is $45.06/96 or 46.9 cents/roll.

      The price per sq ft is 46.9/54.167 or .0087/sq ft

      Couldn't help myself lol


    3. the price pt breakdown incorrectly. Your purchase is actually more than Scott 1000, about equal to the one ply thick, and less than the 2 ply thin, which is probably the most similar as the one you purchased.


    4. Hi YHF,
      I'm trying to follow your math here. Actually, each roll that I bought has 1000 sheets, not 500. So,I believe there are 108.33 sq ft per roll. At a price of about .00425 per sq. ft.

      Brighton does also make a 500 sheet roll. Perhaps that's what you saw?

    5. Is each sheet size also 4" x 3'9"? If so, then your price of .00425 seems correct. According to the blogger, that's a "buy" price. I didn't see a 96 roll 1000 sheet product on the Staples website, only the 500 sheet 96 roll case. I follow this price point guideline pretty close, and it has helped me decide whether the sale price is low enough to buy. I don't think sheet size should be the only factor. I like your dollar use value in addition to sheet size value since the manner it is used (humph...) should be the end all lol


    6. More accurately, not sheet size value but sq ft value, taking into consideration the size of each sheet as well as how many sheets. Then you don't have to consider whether the roll is double or mega....


    7. Yes, YHF, each sheet is 4 x 3.9 inches. It's listed as Brighton Professional Standard Roll Bath Tissue, 1-ply, 1000 sheets/roll, 96 rolls/case.

      I'm a fan of the thin 1-ply, 1000 rolls for a couple of reasons. 1) it's usually the most cost-effective choice, without me having to chase down sales/matching coupons (so I can get this good of a deal again in the future), and 2) the thinness doesn't clog pipes. Years ago, we did use one of the "plush" tissues, and we had a lot of plumbing problems. At one point, I was talking with a plumber who was doing some other work for us, and he told me not to use the plush rolls. He also said using the thin tissue could really benefit people with septic systems.

      But, yeah,for our purposes, how long a roll lasts (or anything that is difficult to compare unit to unit) is what matters. Some folks will use way more of the thin stuff, simply because it's thin. And one of these 1000 sheet rolls may not be the best value for them. I'm currently tracking our use on this new brand and hope it meets or beats my Alberston's tissue. The Brighton individual sheets are larger than the Alberston's ones.

  4. Your post gave me a smile. We have friends and the husband is a paper engineer (yes, it's an actual degree). Because so much of the world is going paperless, he has had to make a couple of job changes over the past 10 years or so. His most recent change? A company that manufactures toilet paper. That's one area of life that isn't likely to go "paperless" anytime soon!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'd say your friend has some job security for the next couple of decades, probably until he retires, at the very least! A very interesting career choice!

  5. Very interesting! I did a little browsing and didn't see what we currently use (Scott Extra Soft) but may revisit the issue in a few weeks. We've been getting ours by Subscribe and Save (15% discount) on Amazon and have a full case in the garage at the moment (though 36 rolls doesn't last as long as one might think, with seven people using it). I prefer Charmin Ultra Soft but only occasionally buy it due to the higher price; however, it does seem better-priced through Staples than even at Aldi in my area.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I check Amazon subscribe and save on some items, and think t's a great way to go for many consumables.

  6. You have reminded me that I've been meaning to track our toilet paper use for a while now. As you mentioned, it's a really hard product to compare shelf tags with.

    Also, if your family really doesn't like this brand of toilet paper, I bet a food bank would love to get it.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I had thought of the food bank or a women's shelter, should this not work out. But so far, it seems to be just fine for us! Whih makes me very happy!


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