Gas Station Purchases - What small items do you buy?

For the gas station shops that require a small purchase inside the store, what sort of things do you buy? I have several coming up, and with gas prices being what they are, buying 2 gallons of gas and buying something inside the store for a total of $5 will be a challenge...pack of gum maybe? Lottery ticket?

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I buy Arizona Canned Tea - 99 cents. In some locations it is taxable and in others it is not - so it runs me between 99 cents and $1.07. I'm not a soda-drinker, but some of the canned sodas are $1 or less. Gum can be a good choice at some but others overprice the gum so much that it can be $1.50 or $1.75.
I buy something I would normally buy at a convenience store if it wasn't a shop. To me trying to get off cheap buying something as inexpensive as possible costs more money than buying something I will only stop later and buy anyway.

If you buy a $.25 item for a shop because you're trying to stay under $5 and then 4 hours later you stop and buy a $2 drink, well you've wasted your $.25.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Read your guidelines or check with your scheduler. Most gas station and C-store shops do NOT allow lottery ticket purchases. Gum is expensive. I buy a piece of fresh fruit if available or a small bottle of water. I also offer these items to the people begging for money at busy intersections. The majority of them are grateful for the food or water in place of cash.
@AustinMom wrote:

I buy Arizona Canned Tea - 99 cents.

Uh. You live in a place where you can buy Sweet Leaf in a convenience store and you're drinking that crap?!?!?! winking smiley

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Caution, a lottery ticket will not get you a receipt most of the time.

It depends on the station. One brand in my area offers 69 cent fountain sodas in any size while another has a similar deal at 79 cents. When my sweetie was packing a lunch I picked up a pack of chips or a candy bar at under $1. In the fall/winter I picked up pocket packs of tissues or a chap stick. I used to love to do a gas station on Sunday to pick up a Sunday newspaper with all the coupon inserts. We aren't gum chewers, so that was never an item of interest, but a pack of TicTacs works at around $1 at some stations.
@Sybil2 wrote:

Most gas station and C-store shops do NOT allow lottery ticket purchases.
I kind of figured that - it was more of a joke than a serious comment, Sweet tea in a bottle, or a bottle of water would be the right choice for me...
@Mousegal wrote:

@Sybil2 wrote:

Most gas station and C-store shops do NOT allow lottery ticket purchases.
I kind of figured that - it was more of a joke than a serious comment, Sweet tea in a bottle, or a bottle of water would be the right choice for me...
Mousegal and sweet tea...you live in the South, probably Florida, in or around O-town. How close am I?
I was recently I'll and had to drag myself to the store to buy some Gatorade and soup. Ever since then I make sure I always have both on hand. So, I purchase bottles of Gatorade. I have at least five bottles in my fridge at all times now. I picked up four bottles on shops this weekend. if I get too many Gatorade I will switch to bottled water for a while. I go through water like crazy. Like BGriffin I buy items I need or would otherwise buy.

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
I usually get a fountain drink at one, then a small snack at the next stop. Bottled water is also a good choice, to keep the cash outlay to a minimum.

I try to keep it low, but not too low. Seems to me that an exact $5 purchase screams "mystery shopper," even when I attempt to blend in by getting out my change purse and counting out coins like the old ladies I see in every other store I shop.

YMMV
I get a bottle of water, or a small bag of nuts (Jay's suggestion above is good, but they have plain or dry roasted too). Or sometimes a small candy item like tic tacs, gum, or lifesavers. Walk around a bit and see what they have. I had a station near by that had a sale on 4 packs of AA batteries for $1.99, which was a good deal, I thought.

Tissues and chap stick are good suggestions too. I'd add Hand sanitizer. I usually go over $5 just in gas here in CA, so I try for something cheap, but I agree with @bgriffin that it has to be valuable to me.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
@Sybil2 wrote:

Mousegal and sweet tea...you live in the South, probably Florida, in or around O-town. How close am I?
Well, the Mousegal *does* come from that Mouse smiling smiley I'm in Texas, near H-town actually, but have had annual passes to WDW for about 15 years! Gotta have my yearly dose of the Happiest Place on Earth, lol
I sometimes will buy a single can of cat food (usually $1.15 at gas & c-stores.) I constantly run into stray and feral kitties in my travels. And they never try to hit me up for cash to buy alcohol or drugs!
2-liter of soda. Something I will buy and need anyway, and I just consider the reimbursement a $1-off coupon that makes it a normal grocery store price on the item.
I agree. I buy what I would normally buy and don't try to stay below the $5 total (which is almost impossible anyway).

Question: How obvious do we look when we ask for a receipt for our under-$5-cash purchase though?!?!?!?

Part-time Colorado Shopper since 2016.
We look very obvious and I always buy the .99cent Arizona Tea. I love the look when I ask for a receipt - it just screams mystery shopper.
@Mousegal wrote:

For the gas station shops that require a small purchase inside the store, what sort of things do you buy? I have several coming up, and with gas prices being what they are, buying 2 gallons of gas and buying something inside the store for a total of $5 will be a challenge...pack of gum maybe? Lottery ticket?

I did two of these today, as I was at a resort far from home.
I bought A & W Rootbeer 99 cents and Fritos $1.49.
Then I got home and realized that I had selected the mystery shop & revealed audit. I'd NEVER EVER do that for that fee. My bad. I wasted some time, oh well. I cancelled everything.
Go check and be sure that you didn't select the audit.
I buy the absolute cheapest item that they carry. A 35 cent pack of Wrigleys, 25 cent Now & Later, 25 cent lollipop - anything that cuts into my fee as little as possible. The reimbursement is never enough due to the high price of gas. It is obvious to the cashier that you're a MS when you ask for a receipt for something that costs a quarter, but so what? If the guidelines state that I can buy anything, anything is what I will buy.

For the shops that reimburse up to $2, I like to get a cold beverage, something that keeps the waist thin, like an iced tea, orange juice, or bottled water. I used to get all varieties of nuts - peanuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, etc. Those Sabritas Japanese peanuts are highly addictive. But lately, I've stopped purchasing them; nuts are surprisingly high in calories. My belly is starting to resemble the Michelin Man.
I buy fountain drinks as needed. I buy a pack of two cookies by Frito Lay that runs 99 cents, sometimes taxed and sometimes not. Sometimes I buy Lance or Planters nuts, two for $1. I give the nuts and cookies away to family and friends. If it's the last station of the day I may pick up a gallon of milk if the price is right. I use the milk for myself and pour it up for the feral kitties who adopted me.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I buy a banana smiling smiley It runs about 59 cents and I enjoy it. I also get a little TO-Go cereal and it runs about the same price as the banana.
@litjourney wrote:

For the shops that reimburse up to $2, I like to get a cold beverage, something that keeps the waist thin, like an iced tea, orange juice, or bottled water. I used to get all varieties of nuts - peanuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, etc. Those Sabritas Japanese peanuts are highly addictive. But lately, I've stopped purchasing them; nuts are surprisingly high in calories. My belly is starting to resemble the Michelin Man.
The C-store shops that I perform have a very selective list of items that qualify as a purchase so you do need to adhere to the guidelines. Be careful with that orange juice; it is loaded with sugar and probably other additives. Most gas stations do not sell freshly squeezed OJ. Nuts are loaded with the healthy fat; just watch the sodium count.
@SunnyDays2 wrote:

I buy a banana smiling smiley It runs about 59 cents and I enjoy it. I also get a little TO-Go cereal and it runs about the same price as the banana.
Wow, the cost of living in your area is much lower than what I am used to. Most fresh fruit runs $0.99, sometimes even higher. The to-go cereals are well over $1.00, sometimes over $2.00.
After reading these posts, I have a feeling that I am doing different shops than most of you. My GS shops allow up to $5.00 of fuel and $1.00 for in-store purchase. They are two totally different purchases. The in-store is not lumped together with the fuel and I don't have to worry about 2 gallons of gas.
I also like to get a banana for a healthy snack on a long route. The price does vary considerably at different stations, but if it tides me over until I get home and I can avoid stopping to eat, it's worth it. If the station is at a grocery store, I might pick up some grapes. Another favorite are the tiny bags of chips that run 2 for $1. I also do the 2 for $1 nuts, and I too was addicted to the Sabritas for a while. Now I just send them to nieces and nephews on USPS shops. But mainly, I stick to things that have the price on them -- some of these stations jack up the prices so much it's better to pay $1.49 for a marked bags of chips than to take your chances on an unmarked item. The milk also is a good idea when you're near the end of the day. I also do cartons of eggs, but I always check the freshness date first. For the $2 reimbursement shops, I sometimes pick up a can of cheap fix-a-flat to have in the trunk for emergencies.
@litjourney wrote:

I buy the absolute cheapest item that they carry. A 35 cent pack of Wrigleys, 25 cent Now & Later, 25 cent lollipop - anything that cuts into my fee as little as possible. The reimbursement is never enough due to the high price of gas. It is obvious to the cashier that you're a MS when you ask for a receipt for something that costs a quarter, but so what? If the guidelines state that I can buy anything, anything is what I will buy.

For the shops that reimburse up to $2, I like to get a cold beverage, something that keeps the waist thin, like an iced tea, orange juice, or bottled water. I used to get all varieties of nuts - peanuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, etc. Those Sabritas Japanese peanuts are highly addictive. But lately, I've stopped purchasing them; nuts are surprisingly high in calories. My belly is starting to resemble the Michelin Man.

you're not increasing your fee by getting something getting something 25 cents, it just goes toward reimbursement... might as well use up the dullar.
@ jengon

very obvious to people who have been audited before. many cashiers have told me they knew it was me when I asked for a receipt.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2016 02:26PM by jay225.
I usually pay with a debit or credit card which usually prompts a receipt. For the cash transactions, I always ask for a receipt. I do this IRL so it is second nature to me. If they want to constantly think I am a MS'er then the majority of the time, they are wrong.
There is nothing in a convenience store that I will touch except water. And I always wonder if it got left sitting out in the sun with BPA leaching out into it. So I buy stuff my honey likes, the 12 oz sodas when they are 99 cents, the peanuts, the gatorade, and peanut butter cups. Stuff that gets bought at our household anyway. The gallon of milk is a good idea for my last stop. I am in the habit of asking for a receipt whether or not I am shopping. That way I'm less likely to forget when it matters.
@SoCalMama wrote:

I did two of these today, as I was at a resort far from home.
I bought A & W Rootbeer 99 cents and Fritos $1.49.
Then I got home and realized that I had selected the mystery shop & revealed audit. I'd NEVER EVER do that for that fee. My bad. I wasted some time, oh well. I cancelled everything.
Go check and be sure that you didn't select the audit.
I did the same thing this month, but I noticed it as I was heading out the door to do the shop. They must have changed something about the way the jobs were listed this month: I'm usually pretty good at recognizing the audit vs. Mystery shop with this brand. I cancelled all the audits I had signed up for, too. The MS is worth the low fee and low reimbursement, but an audit just isn't.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
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