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"Guns and Hoses" Shopping Spree Has Huge Payoff

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With a big shiny trophy and bragging rights on the line, five of the valley's fire and law enforcement agencies sprinted, stocked up and saved Tuesday morning. But this shopping spree was about more than competition.

Carlo Montebon is the new owner of Lewiston's Grocery Outlet.

So when it came to his family's first holiday season in the Lewis-Clark Valley, he says he wanted a new tradition beyond donating to charity. "Let's do something different, let's do something fun,"

His self-described "lightbulb moment" came from the first responders who come into his store.

Montebon says, "We wanted to do something to bridge the service men and women to the community." That's how "Guns and Hoses" was born.

A store loudspeaker counts down, "Ready, set, shop!"

It's a simple competition. Five minutes, $150 worth of groceries. But it has a huge payoff.

The contestants from Lewiston and Clarkston's police and fire departments, along with Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez, zipped through the aisles gathering up cart-fuls of food.

At the end of every purchase, Grocery Outlet cashiers tell you how much you've saved.

Montebon says, "There was a little bit of strategy involved as to what items you picked up. I noticed they picked up a bunch of BOGO items and they took advantage of the digital coupon we had."

The agency that saves the most claims the coveted trophy. But the real winners are the local families and nonprofits each agency picked who will now receive the food.

Montebon says he and his wife are happy to do this. "Now that we're in a position to give, we want to give back to our community."

But he says that wasn't always the case, "Because once upon a time, we were on the other side of the fence. So the holidays, for me, it's a very sensitive subject."

Carlo has been inspired by the valley and its service members. As he nears his first year in the business, he hopes he's also inspired others.

"I kind of encourage any business that can give back, do. There is going to be a family out there who won't have anything on their plates. There will be somebody in Lewiston who won't be celebrating because they can't afford to."

The winner of the first annual "Guns and Hoses" was the Lewiston Police Department, who saved $193 on their $150 purchase.

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