Warehouse Clubs

chrisdocMarch 11, 2009

I'm debating if it is worth it to use a Warhouse Club. I currently belongg to Costco but I used to go to BJ's. I only buy a handful of things there.

Frozen chicken breasts (buy once/2 months)

Frozen pizza (buy once/month)

Peanutbutter (buy once/2 months)

Orange juice (buy once/wk)

Diapers (buy once/month)

Some fruit (once/week)

Bread (once/week)

Bottled water (once/month)

Stick Cheese (once/2 months)

Laundry soap (once/month)

Of those things I really only need OJ, fruit and bread on a weekly basis. So I end up driving there for just those 3 things. I'm thinking of only going when I need more of the big items.

But when I'm in the long lines I see people buying whole carts full of stuff. I just don't see the deals there. And on some of the items where there may be deals, it just doesn't make sense for me. I don't need a dozen peppers (they will go bad) and I don't have room to store a case of toilet paper. I don't think there prices are that great on everything. I tasted some chicken stew at one of their tasting sites. It was good so I picked it up and started walking to my cart. As I was walking I asked how much it was. She said $9.99. I turned around and put it back. $10 for stew???

Anyway, I'm curious as to what other people buy there and if there are any deals that I'm missing.

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I have a membership at our Sam's Club - and have to admit I view my once a month/every six weeks trip more of an adventure than a real shopping expedition. It's true, warehouse stores have lots of stuff, but it's not always stuff you can use. And there are too many things they just don't carry. I do figure I get my $40 annual membership back several times over, though, during the course of the year. If you entertain, do holiday baking, etc. certain items in bulk or specialty items come in handy.

I do see people with loaded carts and wonder if they aren't restaurant people, or those running lodges and bed & breakfasts buying in bulk. How can someone can go through that many cases of pop!

When I need them, I'll get the frozen chicken breasts, frozen meatballs, 8 pack of solid white albacore tuna, Cheerios, croissants or kaiser rolls, country style ribs, coffee after studying the price per ounce, little cases of canned corn or peas, Progresso Soups. Fruit comes in quantities I just can't use - aside from a periodic box of Clementine oranges, a whole pineapple or canteloup, or maybe berries and grapes that I can freeze.

Today it seems the grocery stores are running better "stock up" type bargains and just bargains, in general, but I don't run from store to store to pick up a few things from each. And I do a lot better buying what can be used up or consumed without going to waste. In these times of people being frugal whether they have to be or not, not letting anything go to waste is huge.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:42AM
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We don't belong to one. We've gone in with friends who belong, but really didn't see many good deals. Seems to me I can get things cheaper when they're on sale at the regular grocery store. I went in to Sam's CLub last month because I got a free pass in the mail. They told me I'd have to pay a 10% "up fee" on all purchases if I didn't become a member that day. I looked around briefly and left without a purchase. I refuse to pay extra to shop!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I had a Sams Club membership several years ago, but gave it up because it just wasn't a bargain for us. The only foods I could really stock up on were high in fat and took up freezer space.

Dh has mentioned trying Sams again. It seems he forgot us walking out because the lines were too long the last time we were there. Maybe I should take him again on Saturday afternoon and remind him why he hates it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 1:53PM
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I belong to BJ's and go at least once a month. It is only about 6 miles away and that is why. I do find some good buys in there. I usually buy toilet paper, tissues, garbage bags, dog food. I buy snacks for the kids, sometimes soda. I purchase quite a few of the different freezer things. I purchase meat at times. I don't buy produce because I won't use that much. At times I have purchased books and computer things. I purchased a set of Wolf Gang Puck pots that were much cheaper than any where else. I also purchase laundry detergent because it is much cheaper than in the stores if you figure it out per ounce.

I also purchase gas there every other week. I find that it is a good deal, but not every thing in there is.

I have space to store things and at times they send coupons and have coupons in the stores. If you don't have the room to store things than I don't know if it would be worth it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 2:39PM
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My Sam's Club story is exactly the same as duluthinbloomz4. Yes, I get back in savings the cost of the membership. I save on gas purchases and there are some things I regularly purchase because they are priced right; but I consider my every 4-6-week visit as an outing to look at the books and DVD's. The biggest bargains have been found on the discount table at the back of the store.

I purchase very little food there. I keep a Grocery Price Book and because I can compare REAL numbers, I don't find very many food bargains compared to the grocery store loss leaders, managers's specials, and discounted items - plus you can't use coupons at Sam's.

Just because you can purchase a jumbo size of something or a multi-pack, doesn't mean it's cheap when you figure unit price. The grocery store has never minded if I hauled out a case of something-er-other.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 3:44PM
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I saw Rachael Ray as a guest on a show the other day and she claimed that it is ALWAYS cheaper to use a warehouse club. I just stood there shaking my head. Maybe where she lives it is cheaper than the local supermarket...... but I know that for my family here in Missouri it is not always the best bargain. We are a family of five but buying fruits and veggies are not a bargain....because they will go bad before we can eat the whole package, and a lot of the frozen foods are high in fat and calories.
There are some things that are a good deal...like bottled water and sliced cheese and the spices. But I don't think that warehouse clubs are ALWAYS the best bargain!!!???!!!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 7:44PM
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I save the cost of the membership at my Costco on the savings on milk, eggs and cheese (much cheaper than at my grocery store).
A price book is a must. I have since discovered that there are several items that are cheaper than I can get at my grocery store. And those are the only things I buy.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:29PM
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Rumour is that the three?-year-old Sam's in London is losing .... sorry, that's "closing".

I've never been in there - guess I'd better ask if I can have a guest pass, to check it out.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 5:57AM
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We shop at both Costco and BJ'S. It definitely saves this family of four money. You have to know the prices of things before you go. That is just smart shopping. We have the storage space and stock up. Hubby buys bulk meat and cuts it up and food savers' it. Quality is excellent. Because of the level we belong to we always make back our membership dues and then some. It has worked out for us for many, many years. It may not be as cost savings to people that have less family members or storage space. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:44AM
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Hello All,
I just joined because of this post, I have been reading this for 2 days now, WOW.

anyhow I have a comment about those warehouse clubs, I too wonder how people feel they are getting a bargain. Anyhow I have friend who is somewhat a math genius. He had a membership to Sam's Club and Costco. I was shocked because he is a HUGE cheapskate. (not frugal, cheapskate) He said he has a Sams club membership because he buys lots of electronics, and its worth every penny their computer/electronic prices compared around town were the best. He had a Costco membership because he and his roommate went in halves for the membership and it did save him money for non food items. So thats his take, Sams Club saves him money on electronics, while Costco saves him money on food and non food.
I like the idea of sharing the cost of a membership.
But honestly, the cheapest store I have found for grocery shopping is Walmart. I do not buy their meat, I find its cheaper at a store called Save Mart here in Northern California.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 12:46PM
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We dropped our membership several years ago after our son was past the diaper and formula age. I remember they had good prices on such items. We also wanted to get the Mead Johnson (expensive) formula as my sister-in-law works there.

More recently, my wife occasionally goes to Sam's Club with her mom who has a membership. She only gets a few items like walnuts in 3 lb bags or other specialty type things that seem to be high at the food store. We don't have too much extra space for storage and no chest freezer, so that cuts out most of what they have.

I find that our local grocery store chain has the best overall combination of choice and value. They offer sales all the time and since we are NOT brand loyal (store brands are good here), we get almost everything on sale. Other local grocery stores offer less selection and make you get a card to get sale prices on the overpriced name brands.

Aldi has come to our town. I like Aldi, but only go there when making other trips because it is on the other side of town. It seems to be the opposite of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, which is very refreshing. Prices are great, but selection is less than our close-by food store. It's good to have competition and this store especially helps out in these tough financial times for many people.

The lowest prices I have seen for many items at local retail (other than loss leaders in the ads) are from closeout stores like Big Lots. Probably 1/2 of what they sell is junk made just for them, but the other stuff is good quality odd lots at great prices. Just be sure to check the dates on the food items.

As an example, Big Lots had closeout Post Live Active grain cereal at $2/box and Aldi was $2.50/box for their store (higher sugar) version, and Schnucks was $3 for their Post Great Grains version of basically the same thing in the same sized box.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 1:53PM
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Hello All,
I just joined because of this post, I have been reading this for 2 days now, WOW.

anyhow I have a comment about those warehouse clubs, I too wonder how people feel they are getting a bargain. Anyhow I have friend who is somewhat a math genius. He had a membership to Sam's Club and Costco. I was shocked because he is a HUGE cheapskate. (not frugal, cheapskate) He said he has a Sams club membership because he buys lots of electronics, and its worth every penny their computer/electronic prices compared around town were the best. He had a Costco membership because he and his roommate went in halves for the membership and it did save him money for non food items. So thats his take, Sams Club saves him money on electronics, while Costco saves him money on food and non food.
I like the idea of sharing the cost of a membership.
But honestly, the cheapest store I have found for grocery shopping is Walmart. I do not buy their meat, I find its cheaper at a store called Save Mart here in Northern California.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:12PM
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They opened a Costco right across the street from my office in October and offered us a $35 rebate on the $50 membership so I joined. I'm not impressed. But I didn't expect to be either, as I used to have a free membership to Sam's at a previous employer and never used it.

Their gas is cheaper than the other stations in the immediate area, but certainly not cheapest in town. I often see gas for sale at the same price or cheaper on my normal trips around town.

Their meat is not cheaper, chicken breasts, not cheaper. I can get most of that kind of stuff at least at that price, if not cheaper when on sale at the grocery stores.

They only carry very limited brands of stuff. So for example I can't buy my toilet paper there, since they don't carry my brand. I'm not brand loyal on much that's one thing I'm pretty picky about.

They do have good prices on Milk, Rotisserie chickens, and a couple of other items. And the coupons they send me are pretty good. I pretty much go when I get the coupons and then just buy the items I've got coupons for.

I have made back my $15 investment, but whether I could make back the $50 normal membership PLUS additional to make it worth the hassle of the huge store, buying in bulk, and waiting in lines, is doubtful.

My membership expires in October, and I'm not going to rejoin. I too, wonder about all the people who buy tons of stuff there. I just do not see their prices as bargains for the most part. Most of their prices are either on par or even more expensive than the grocery stores, with only a few things being really cheaper.

I read these threads (on this and other forums) hoping to see someone list that wonderful good deal of that item they always get so cheap... I have yet to see that. Maybe it does have to do with what I buy. I don't buy cokes/soft drinks (at all), don't have any pets, etc. So maybe I'm just not looking at the right things!

I don't know if it's just the illusion that if they are guarding their "deals" so jealously by charging a membership fee the prices MUST be good, or if I'm just not getting the big picture and missing out on the real deals, but the warehouse club deal is just not for me.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 4:22PM
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Here's what I have gotten a very good price on at Costco, probably better than I could have done anywhere else:
Fashion forward eyeglasses with plastic frames
Michelin tires
Speedo bathing suit
Rainier cherries

Their realtor service looks interesting.

I saved lot of money on home and auto insurance through them, but have recently found a slightly lower-cost policy which was not available when I went through Costco.

I'm not sure that this justifies the cost of the membership, though.

I can't walk out of there without getting a huge frozen yogurt for cheap.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 10:58PM
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I got online and found a free one day guest pass without the 10% surcharge so we tried out Sam's Club today.

We saw some good deals, some average prices and some not so good deals.

We are stocking the cabinets with basic cooking and baking supplies. That was the area where we found the best deals. We bought 25 lbs of flour, 25 lbs of rice, instant potatoes, various spices and flavorings, and pasta. The prices at Sam's were lower than the equivalent price at Wal-Mart. I'm not brand loyal to most items so we just compared type of item rather than brand including generics.

There were some items like toilet paper, paper towels, and toothpaste that weren't the best deals. I shop sales and use coupons so I can get the equivalent or even same item for example Scott brand toilet paper or Crest toothpaste cheaper elsewhere. I wasn't all that impressed with the prices on the canned goods like green beans or spaghetti sauce either.

The Sam's cheese was a great deal. It was almost $2/lb cheaper than elsewhere. The only problem with it was that it comes five pounds at a time. I can freeze it, but that might be too much cheese for most people. The butter appears to be a good deal too, but I need to do more checking. I wasn't impressed by the eggs. You have to buy two cartons that are strapped together so you can't check to see if the eggs are broken. The eggs appear to be higher than sale prices. I can buy milk on sale for around Sam's price so it wasn't a bargain.

We'd probably at least break even if we had a Sam's membership if we didn't succumb to the temptation just to buy stuff because it's there.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 11:56PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I contemplated getting rid of our Sam's club membership after we changed our style of eating but it still comes out to a good deal in the long run.

The biggest saver for our family is the gasoline. Our Sam's is right off of the freeway on DH's commute so we save a lot of money there. Right now the difference is about 0.15 per gallon compared to our little town.

Other big savers for us are:

*Bulk yeast. I use about 1 pack per year, the grocery stores cannot come close to beating Sam's price.
*Soy milk. Three 1/2 gallons are $6. A 1/2 gallon at the cheapest place (Target) is still $3. This sounds expensive and indeed it is but I find that the kids do not chug as much now that we have switched to Soy.
*Frozen berries.
*Jimmy Dean sausage (a rare treat for us but still much cheaper than any sale price I have seen anywhere).
*Simply OJ - This is about the same price as the standard sale price but it makes it quicker for me to just get it here. Everybody is limited to one juice glass a day.
*Nuts. We eat a lot of nuts so the price at Sam's is wonderful, pecans, walnuts and almonds.
*Ghiradelli chocolate chips and other baking chips. Better than prices during the Christmas sales.
*Magazines. These are really an occasional treat, very occasional, but once in a while I will splurge and they are much cheaper at Sam's than the other stores I frequent.

Once in a while they will have some good deals on other things. Carter's PJs for the little ones, etc. I once bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker at Sam's for $30 cheaper than any other place (I used my mother's day money)so I definitely found it worth it that year.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 1:53AM
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grainlady: I like your idea of a "price book". I keep a list of items that we regularly purchase organized by store. We go through the list every week while we are creating our grocery list so that we don't miss anything. I'm going to add prices to this list so we can start to do better comparison shopping.

I went to Costco again this weekend for 4 things (peanut butter, yogurt, fruit and stick cheese). Actually I went there for 3 things but the fruit looked good.

At least the lines weren't that long this week.

I did notice a large number of people eating lunch there. I couldn't help but think that they are wasting any money they just saved by not eating at home. Also, I couldn't imagine a less appetizing place to eat than a busy warehouse.

My Costco doesn't sell gas but I wish it did so I could save $ there.

I do like that there Amex gives 3% back on gasoline purchases. I drive quite a bit so this will add up and probably pay for my membership.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 8:46AM
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We belong to BJ's. We definitely save money over regular grocery store prices on milk (about $1.00/gallon cheaper), eggs, cheese and butter. I buy bulk yeast, which is much cheaper than buying from grocery stores. We buy paper towels and toilet paper in bulk. The prices for those run about the same as Walmart, but I don't like going to Walmart, so I'd rather buy at BJ's.

Meat is sometimes cheaper, sometimes not, depending on the sales the grocery store is having. Same for soda, cereal, bread, and some other things we regularly use. The thing is, though, I'm not good at keeping track of the sales. I forget to look at the online circulars (don't get the newspaper), forget to print out coupons, forget to use coupons even when I have them in my purse. So I like knowing that when I shop at BJ's, I may not be getting the very best price, but it's usually not bad, and almost always better than regular grocery prices.

We also save on glasses, comparing apples for apples. In fact, the savings on eyeglasses alone justify the membership for our family. Prices on electronics and tires are usually very good, too, as are prices on OTC medicines and toiletries.

I guess for me, if I can get reasonably good prices without coupons and without going to Walmart, I'm happy.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 3:23PM
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Member of Costco--
I'm single, so my shopping needs are different than some others.
I would not be a member but for one thing at Costco: their Kirkland brand canned albacore tuna. (Pack of 8 is, i think, $19)
Really--tuna! It's one of my food staples, and it really is albacore solid WHITE tuna. BumbleBee solid white has turned pink in the past few years. I cannot LIVE without my Kirkland tuna! LOL!

I also get the warehouse pack of TP. I have the storage space, and for me, it's not more expensive than the grocery store prices, and I can cut down on grocery trips (when it always seems that you run in for TP and bananas and come out with 3 bags of stuff).

I don't do a lot of impulsive buying at Costco. Their double pack of SD photo cards were a good deal; I'd checked out prices elsewhere. I also get their 2 breasts-per-packet packages of chicken breast. The serving size is impt to me--I don't like having to cook up a 3- or 4- breast grocery pkg and having to freeze the rest (or cook 2 and freeze 1 or 2), because the taste always suffers, to me. Extra foil and the ziploks don't seem to keep them fresh in the freezer.

And Costco sells wonderful rotisserie chickens (for when someone's coming over) and tzaziki sauce (Greek) in their refrigerated section.

Good idea about sharing membership, but unless you always shopped with the friend every time, it'd be problematic. They check your Costco-issued ID card (with photo) against your personal check (or AmEx card). So if it was your friend's ID, you'd have to have her or him pay the total bill and then write a check to the friend. And I know I that when I want to go to Costco, I'm not waiting around for a friend to have the time!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:52PM
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My DD is moving into a house on my block and I'm excited because we're going to share a Sam's membership and will make the 50-mile trip together.

Her buying habits are going to be a lot different than mine because she has had gastric bypass surgery. So we'll see how it works out.

I don't find it really cost-effective to have a membership just for myself as I don't make that trip very often.

I like to buy bulk yeast, Ghiradelli chocolate chips in the big bags, big boxes of frozen spring rolls, big bags of frozen veggies, 5# packages of sliced American cheese and Swiss cheese (I divide them up into ziplock bags and freeze the extra. They thaw just fine if you let them come to room temp after thawing, and THEN refrigerate.), 50# bags of bread flour, 5-gallon tubs of laundry detergent, big packages of raisins, big packages of long grain white rice and balsamic rice, jugs of vinegar, etc.

You do have to watch the unit price but I have found the above prices to be much better than what I can get anywhere else. I like Aldi's but they don't have much selection. I don't like Aldi's meat and cheese. Their egg and milk prices are higher than I can get at the grocery store. At Aldi's, I buy real butter, ice cream, canned veggies, chips, and flour and sugar.

It's an adventure to go to Sam's. I bought the neatest pic-nic table there, several years ago. It is in two pieces, and the table part is hinged to the seat so that, when you turn it in the other direction, it makes two "park benches". I keep them on my back porch, in the bench position, and when we need a picnic table, voila! I had never seen these before and have not seen them since but they were well worth what I paid for them.

DD bought her freezer and her computer there. I've bought printer ink there, in multi-packs.

I wouldn't buy Roadside Assistance, tires or insurance from Sam's. I worked the help desk for Sam's several years ago and there were lots of complaints about those services, and lots of instances of the wrong size tire being put on the car. I think the tires are good, so if you buy, make sure you know what size you need and watch as they are put on.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 9:07AM
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The problem I have with these threads is the I save so much just on _________, it pays for the membership! or whatever, but nobody will post the "great" prices they're paying so we can see if it really IS a good deal and worth the cost, time and the like to get it. I work in Sam's club every few months and I carry a digital recorder for notetaking so I note prices on things while I'm there just out of curiosity. I'm amazed at the high prices there on so many things! Cat litter is expensive, dish soap is expensive, laundry detergent is high except for the el-cheapo stuff that is only higher than average. Coffee is expensive, as is toothpaste, shampoo, and just about all the staples I would be interested in. The one thing I consistently hear about being cheap there is yeast. That does sound cheap when I've heard the prices, something like $5/# but the ones around here didn't carry it when I was a member.

The illusion of saving seems to come from the gigantoid sizes you buy so people feel it must be cheaper. Look at that huge bucket of ______ - it MUST be cheaper! I watch the gas prices online quite often and yes S & C do occasionally come out cheaper than other stations, but only occasionally. More often, there's other stations that are cheaper in the area, if you're traveling. Perhaps they try to stay lowest in their immediate area, but I haven't researched it.

To me, you can't just look at it as, the grocery store one time was $4.29/gal for milk and I can buy here for $3.50. I'm doubtful they are cheaper than $1.59/gal for milk which I just paid at our local store. I know they're far higher than 50 for a bottle of Dawn (when broken down to comparable size), and I know they charge more than $1.29 for a tube of Crest. These are prices I consistently pay for these few examples.

There can be some decent deals when you catch them discontinuing things and they're like Aldi in that it's a garage sale type place anyway. You never know if they'll have the items next time you come in. But I get deals on the clearance shelves at other stores too and won't pay $50 to go look at them.

I'm reminded of the people thinking they were getting such deals at the clearance at Circuit City. A friend went in there and saw the items he looked at a week before marked up 30%-40%! But they were taking 10% off! Such deals! And people were grabbing armloads.

All that said, it's really irrelevent. People that pay to enter a store will likely not consider the prices fairly. Deals on books is a misnomer. I don't buy books. There's a new thing out called a "library" and I don't need the clutter of the old books lying around collecting dust and bugs. People will rationalize things. Eyeglasses are a good example. Don't know anyone getting them at the warehouse places cheaper than $30/pair and the surveys that have been done around here on prescriptions do not put the warehouse clubs in good light. So my point is, "savings", "good deals" and such are like beauty... in the mind of the beholder and seldom rationally thought out.

BTW, Joyful, if you want to go in and check out Scam's, just go down there and walk in like you own the place. I'm confident YOU won't be buying anything if the prices are anything like what's around here! If anyone questions you or demands a card, just say you're a vendor and they'll back off.

Hey Joyful, I have an idea.... Let's go together and start a garage sale together. We'll charge people to come in and look for bargains. Then make them stand in line and get permission to leave. We can start a chain all over the world. You want to hold the marker or shall I? :D

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:17AM
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OK, I'll bite ... Where do you get milk for $1.59/gal and $.50 bottles of Dawn and $1.29 toothpaste?

I'm with you on Circuit City. I didn't specifically go there because I've been to other close out sales that were terrible. Plus I'm not interested in buying electronics from a place that is going out of business. It seems that the illusion of bargains gets people to buy than actual bargains.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 11:58AM
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Wow Cynic,
That was a pretty cynical response.

It would be pointless for each of us to post the prices that we pay for items at Costco/Sams/BJs as they vary from store to store. And the prices available to us at our local grocery stores also vary greatly.

I do have a price book so I can compare actual prices of my grocery store and Costco's prices. So, I know which store has the best price on certain items that I regularly buy. Also, because I have a price book, I have noticed that sometimes the prices at my local Costco actually go down.

I was insulted by your comment:

The illusion of saving seems to come from the gigantoid sizes you buy so people feel it must be cheaper.

While I am sure that not every shoppers comparison shops, it is a bit much to assume that no shoppers are comparing prices.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 12:24PM
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I belonged to CostCo for a year. I think the membership cost $25. They had plenty of stuff but with a family of four we didn't buy much. We also don't have a lot of storage space. I remember going only twice. I let my card expire and I wouldn't bother going back. The only products I buy in bulk (at my local grocery store) are toilet paper and paper towels. I keep the packs in the garage. We do use them up quickly.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 11:19AM
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Because I have to split out the contents of ginormous bags of things in order to be able to use some, store some for later, and because I don't have unlimited storage space, I do make it a point to calculate unit prices. IN MY AREA (and I stress this because I know prices vary greatly across the nation and also with the seasons), I do get excellent unit prices on the things I listed in my previous posts. I wouldn't buy a big bag otherwise. Wal-Mart is really bad about providing several sizes of certain things -- for instance, flour, sugar, peanut butter -- and when you check the unit price, you're paying the same per oz regardless. DH used to buy big bags of cereal until I pointed out that the store brand in smaller boxes is actually cheaper per ounce. Thirty years ago, if you bought something in a larger size, you truly did get a better buy. It saved the producer some packaging costs. Not so anymore. It seems at the Sam's in my area, anything that must be refrigerated, such as fresh vegetables and fruit, milk and meat, is always higher than I can get during sales at one of the grocery stores near me -- with the exception of cheese. Frozen things tend to be priced reasonably, with the exception of trendy things.

I agree about Circuit City. I didn't even darken their door. There was a furniture store and a jewelry store nearby that had "Going Out FOR Business" sales all the time. Eventually they had to have a "Going Out OF Business" sale and people didn't even pay any attention to that, either.

All these marketing ploys really hack me off -- the size reduction done quietly in the hopes we won't notice, the visual tricks they pull on us with the shape of the container, hoping we won't read how much it weighs, the listing some sizes of some brands in ounces, hoping we won't calculate how many ounces in a pound, the adding of soy to canned meat products hoping we'll not notice how little meat there actually is in there, putting more syrup and less fruit in cans, the placement of products in the stores, the advertisements they run, etc., etc., ALL are deceptive practices.

I guess it's that we're reasonably intelligent persons and it annoys me that marketers just make this blanket assumption that all consumers are stupid little lambs, even though I guess a lot of them are. But NOT us!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 4:00PM
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When folding the laundry I was reminded of something to share on this thread: my husband's undershirts.

There were some from Brooks Brother's, some Jockey's and some Kirkland (Costco's brand) in this week's pile.

The BB and Jockey were both twisted, and both turned up at the hem. They were thin, and thin is sometimes better, and maybe that's why they didn't hold theire shape. The Kirkland, which are thicker, still have lots of body and don't turn up at the hem. They stay new for a long time.

I get weary of the repeating chores of housekeeping, and that sometimes drive me to throw money at things that purport to relieve my weariness. It feels futile and depressing to repeatedly wash, dry and fold t-shirts that don't show all the work that went into them. So I like the Kirkland ones. They make nice, stiff, thick white pile that seems like it will last a while.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Jamie, I'm with you, I hate those thin t-shirts. It seems like they don't stay white very long, too, and bleaching them just seems to make matters worse. I think the thicker t-shirts with lots of body have a high percentage of cotton in them. They feel and smell so good fresh off the clothesline.

Lots of people don't like hanging T-shirts on the line because they say they go out of shape and have lots of wrinkles. Of course they do if you hang them by the hem. But if you give each one a good shake from the shoulders(like you would shake a rug), then fold the shirt over the line and put the clothespins in the armpits, they come off the line well-shaped and ready to fold.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:07AM
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I shop a lot at BJ's, it is close to my house, and I get a free membership from my sisters business. One thing about BJ's that no one has mentioned is that they take coupons. You can also use more than one coupon, because everything is in bulk. They also send out their own coupon books, you can use one of their coupons in the book, and your own manufacurers coupon on an item and save quite a bit.

Some things that I save on frequently are...
bodywash for my teenage boys
goldbond hand lotion
frozen chicken breasts
swiffer products
their meat is also very, very good, possibly not cheaper, but good quality

I also use aldi's for staples, cereal, chips, yougert, bread, chicken fingers etc.

I never go to a "real" grocery store.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 2:52PM
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Rainbow foods had milk this past week for $1.59/gal. Walgreens has Dawn every few months for 79¢-99¢ a bottle and you add a mfgr. coupon on that brings it to about half a buck. Toothpaste is frequently on sale and couple a mfgr coupon brings it down, last time I bought Crest it came to $1.29 with a free toothbrush on the package. Rainbow often has Colgate for 99¢ and if you have a coupon, all the better. These are just from watching and knowing prices.

The regular price for clumping cat litter at Fleet Farm is $6.99 for 40#. How much is it at Sams/Costco? Tell me, next time you go in there. BTW, the Farm puts it on sale for anywhere from $5.99-$6.49 every couple of months.

Be insulted if you must, but all too many people envision a savings equates to size of package. Tell me what Dawn dish liquid costs per ounce next time you go there. I'd find it interesting. No need to take it personally if it doesn't apply to you. Cynical? Maybe. Pragmatic? Definitely. I gave examples of the items that ar definitely overpriced compared to even a drug store. I'm insulted that you chastise me and won't give an example. That's where threads like this are so limited in value. Bargains, like beauty are clearly in the mind of the beholder. And hopefully you're not insulted by that, but I think you'll agree.

If people want to share information that's great. Hopefully people are willing to accept that there might be a better way. I've been open to looking at the S/C stores, and check prices whenever I'm there. I just haven't found much of anything that is truly cheaper than I can get elsewhere. Even on TVs and computers, short of buying a clearance item which can be better anywhere depending if you're at the right place at the right time.

A friend keeps talking about bottled water being so cheap there. I've never found it to be true. Maybe I'm not looking in the right spot, but when nobody wants to share info, I'll never know either! LOL

BTW, how much was milk this week? :)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:18PM
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Don't have membership in restricted stores.

Around here, 2% milk is about $3.87 - $3.99 for 4 lires at a chain drugstore (3.87 make a U.S. gal.), but about $4.50 in reg. discount grocers.

Got 2 litres choc. milk today at $1.99 on special at discount grocer.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 6:57AM
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Milk's a bargain here if it's anything less than $3 a gallon. We usually get it at Walgreen's. Aldi's is always higher than that.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:14AM
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okay Cynic, every time I get on here you live up to your name. I belong to Costco and love it. I hate going to a grocery store and buying sm ounces in sm bottles. I think most are water-down or have an expiration date that is only a few days away. I buy organic stuff at Costco . It tastes much better and last way longer than our WalMart . I also buy many office supplies, medical and bath supplies as well as towels,bedding,clothes,ect, frozen foods. For us it saves when you compare, quantity, quality, and the fact that I don't have to go the store every week. Books are also at least 45% plus off. Like I said you are a Cynic, I'm sorry you feel the way you do.

Plus a big factor in going their is they also unload your groceries, pack your boxes, and your car if you wish. A great return policy, I hope they don't change. If I should pay a cent more for something it is will worth it. They are friendly and will go out of the way to help you.

Yes, we save, Did I mention they are very "green" All you have to do is read and ask questions, I hope they don't change. For us they work. You gave your opinion and I gave mine. Have a good day.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:43AM
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Like I posted above, I went and visited Sam's a week ago and compared prices. I didn't find bargains on toilet paper, toothpaste, and various other goods when I compared it on a unit basis. I didn't write those numbers down because I was no longer interested. I did write down some of the food items. Since brand didn't matter to me on most items, I didn't bother to record the brand, but rather compared it as Sams to Wal-Mart.

Sam's Wal-Mart Item
$.87/# $1.34/# Instant Potatoes
$.08/oz $0.11/oz Pickles
$1.89/# $3.59/# Block Cheddar Cheese
$.98/# $.64 Spaghetti
$.52/cup $.52/cup Individual Fruit Cocktail Cups
$.43/oz $.23/oz $.27/oz Olive Oil*there were some less expensive at Sam's, but the oil was murky.

I haven't finished my cost comparisons yet. I have some old receipts that I need to pull out. Where I found the bargains were the basic cooking ingredients where I probably wasn't going to find a sale or a coupon. Since the items were in bulk, I probably wouldn't need to go back more than once or twice a year for those.

This probably won't mean much for those in other parts of the country, but here are some other things I looked at (Tulsa Sam's) and their prices.

Parboiled Rice $12.88/25#
Converted Rice $10.73/12#
Brown Sugar $4.89/7#
Instant Dry Yeast $4.16/2#
Cumin $5.77/1#
Garlic Powder $3.87/21 oz
Minced Garlic $4.66/23 oz
Onion Powder $3.88/20 oz
Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix $7.04/16 oz
Whole Almonds $11.82/3#
Baking Powder $5.47/60 oz
Beef/ckn Bouillon cubes $4.87/25 oz
Bread Flour $7.88/25#

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 11:15AM
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My husband drinks chocolate Quik like some guys drink beer (to the point that I occasionally say 'haven't you had enough for the day/week?') and the price break for the bulk containers of the powder saves me twice my Sam's membership fee a year, and that lets me rummage through their scratch and dent corner, and order sheet cakes that are just outstanding, considering what they are...and I pick up the occasional something else - dish soap or kitty litter or the clearance item of the day...

but I wouldn't rely on them for daily groceries, that's for sure.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 2:58PM
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AT my local Costco, milk is $2.09 per gallon. This is at least one dollar less than the area grocery stores. I did a cost analysis at one time on how much milk I buy in a year and then compared the cost at my grocery store to the cost at Costco. I pay for the cost of my membership at Costco on my savings in milk alone!

Bananas are also about half the price of the grocery store price of 70 cents. Cheese at my grocery store (parmesan, block of cheddar, shredded cheddar and shredded mozzarella) is always more expensive (even when on sale) than at Costco.

I did a cost comparison on the items that I purchase most often between Costco and my grocery store. So, I know exactly where the deals are for me.

Although I rarely purchase them, their clothing prices are often quite good. I was at the mall tonight and about fainted when I saw what clothing is selling for these days. I'm so accustomed to Target clothing prices! Costco's men's sneakers were selling for the same price as the sneakers at our local Target, but the Costco sneakers were a name brand. I was comparing sneakers just this week.

I also think that they are the cheapest place to get photographs developed. 13 cents a print. Not even wal-mart is cheaper.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:08PM
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I'm in the middle of collecting data for my "price book". I got data from 1 store entered last night. I'll post my findings once they are complete. I did notice that my local supermarket was cheaper for diapers than Costco (I'm comparing Huggies to Luvs but I will take either and Costco only sold Huggies and Kirkland for about the same price (less than $0.01 diffference / diaper).

I'm not a big WalMart fan. I don't hate them like some people, I just don't think they are that great. The WalMart I used to live near was dump that always had long lines. Since I moved I'd have to drive past 2 Targets to get to WalMart. The thing about WalMart is that they don't cary many generics. So you might be able to find name brand stuff at WalMart cheaper than any other store but I can still get products cheaper by going with Target brand items. I recently found toddler jeans at WalMart for less than $10 so I bought a couple pair. I just haven't seen enough bargains there to justify driving past 2 Targets on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 8:18AM
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Big Sam's Club fan here. We love the meats - hard to find Choice beef at a reasonable price anywhere else! There are just two of us and we buy in bulk at SC and only go there every two months because it is a long drive. I have a storage room in the basement that we shelved and it holds all of our bulk purchases as well as all of my canned storage and canning supplies.

We are that couple that you see with two carts over-flowing with dry goods, cereal, 50# bags of flour, (husband makes all of our bread) sugar, rice and any things that I double bag and freeze in portions that we can use for a meal or two. Pet food is certainly cheaper and we more than save that membership fee.

Also, we can eat for at least 6 mos. on what we have in storage -- not a problem now, but who ever knows.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 10:41AM
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"I think most are water-down..."
Soooooo, the Tide and Dawn at the grocery store are watered down but the Tide and Dawn at Costco/Sam's are not? And I'm the one who lives up to my name???

Thank you maggie4, I needed a good laugh today! Enjoy your weekend and everyone else too!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 4:53PM
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I think it truly depends on what other stores are nearby and what kind of things you buy. We do not have a BJs, BigLots or Walmart near us. Costco is just seven miles away on the highway, so it takes just 10 - 15 minutes to get there. We do not eat meat, but we buy the huge boxes of oatmeal, the big bags of walnuts, almonds, raisins and prunes and T-paper. We also get breakfast bars when they have the kind we like (Kasha). It's all cheaper at Costco.

We've looked at the other products, but they are usually high in sugar or salt. Once in a while, we will buy a huge bag of spinach or other produce, but only if we have time to cook it that day. We eat oatmeal with walnuts six days/week so that gives us savings beyond the cost of membership.

Sometimes our Costco has an express line, which I use if I'm just buying a few things. We usually take a book to read in case the lines are long. I think some people buy a lot because they feel they have to justify the time spent standing in line. But if I'm reading a good book, it does not bother me to stand in line.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 6:48PM
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I have been getting milk for 99 cents-1.59 a gallon at Piggly Wiggly with their store coupon if you spend $10 in the store. I look through the ad, check my coupons and usually am able to justify the $10 I need to spend.
Otherwise milk runs about 2.99 at the big grocery store we go to.
We are getting a Sam's Club this summer and I am anxious to see if it will be worth us getting a membership. We had a Costco membership a couple years ago, it was right down the street and we got gas there every week. A lot of people don't realize you don't have to have a membership at Costco to buy wine/beer, get your prescriptions filled, and I believe go to the optometrist...
I see what cynic is saying as far as REAL savings, but I have TIME to run around and pick up dishsoap at CVS, and toothpaste at Walgreen's etc. For people that don't or it's just not their idea of fun to 'cherry pick' all the sales I can see why Costco or Sam's is appealing.
My husband agreed to a Costco membership because there was not a gas station close to us so it was very convenient to get gas, but we really didn't get that many groceries there. It just wasn't in my budget every week to be able to go stock up on things. But I loved their book section and was able to get several nice books for my family and for gifts. It was cheaper than buying them at Barnes and Noble even with my discount membership. (I didn't buy it, it was a gift !) We've since moved and are in the sticks somewhat...

OK, I cannot help but laugh at that dog!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 12:37AM
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Note to be beware of Direct Buy. W5, Marketplace or a similar news show just did an expose on this company. Super sleazy & complete rip-off. They advertise voraciously here in Canada at least. There's probably something similar in the States. You buy a membership $5000 for 3 years to get what they claim is highly discounted furniture and home fixtures. There is rarely any savings after their handling and other spurious fees; many items were even found cheaper (and before the extra charges) at regular stores.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 5:50AM
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FYI...here in louisville, Walmart will match prices. So I usually take the Sunday ads from the other grocery stores and do my shopping in one place....that way I get the bargains and do not have to go from store to store.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 3:50PM
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Yes I proved this to my son. He thought the way you do. (Not meaning to put you down) but really. He liked tide but when he was at my house he did some laundry. He thought his clothes were cleaner. (not a trace of the cattle manure on them ) He couldn't believe how thick my Costco brand was. He threw a fit and said that it would clog his machine. I asked him how long his Tide lasted. So we did a comparison test. My dish soap and laundry soap lasted twice as long. This depends on how many loads.

I do water mine down, only to make it easier to pour in to the machine. We both have newer less water usage machines. Now when I say I water mine down see that means that I know you pay more for Tide.Ounces to ounces. Understand? I am also very Frugal. It works for me. I just get upset when people are so convinced that their way is best when you really need to try what works for other people before you criticize them. I really don't think it is necessary to argue every point of every issue.

Cute dog does it look like you :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:42AM
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I've had a BJ's membership for at least 16 years now. I go there for certain items although I confess I end up buying more than I planned to typically. I live about and hour outside Boston MA, in a semi rural area (read that to mean the closest grocery is about 25 minutes away) Where I typically shop, there is a walmart on one corner, a target across the street and a grocery and BJ's in a plaza on a third corner of that same intersection... shopping heaven for those who do not have closer stores... (btw, I avoid walmart at all costs... always seems dirty to me)

Things I typically buy at Bj's are meats - always better quality and cheaper than the grocery store - unless they are running a sale that week, and even then BJ's is sometimes cheaper still. I buy in bulk, divide into smaller packages with a flavor saver sealer and pop it in the freezer.

Butter, some cheeses, milk, sometimes eggs, coffee creamer, some cereals, coffee, spices (restaurant size containers for just a bit over the grocery store price for a miniscule amount)

Baked items, breads, cookies, rolls, frozen vegetables, pasta sauce, electronics, swimming pool chemicals (way cheaper than anywhere else), books (some of us still buy them)

Levi's, sneaker socks, undershirts, dress socks, tires, car batteries

In days gone by, I had all my film developed there for way cheaper than anywhere else around... with free double prints to boot!

BUT... all this said, you have to know your prices before you go there as there are certainly items that they have WAY overpriced compared to other stores...

Then I have a BJ's credit card... issued by a bank with their name on it... you get 'points' for using it and every so often you get a check for $20 that must be spent at BJ's... all in all I know I at least break even.. I've got plenty of room for storage of what I buy, and actually seriously dislike shopping in general... I tend to make one major trip about every 6-8 weeks, starting at BJ's for meat and most staples, then into the grocery store next door for fruit and fresh vegetables and whatever I don't get at BJ's... after that until the next mega trip, I grab milk bread, fruit, and other things we run out of at which ever grocery one of us ends up near in the course of our day...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 8:10PM
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Posted by chrisdoc (My Page) on Fri, Mar 20, 09 at 11:58

OK, I'll bite ... Where do you get milk for $1.59/gal and $.50 bottles of Dawn and $1.29 toothpaste?

I got 4 gallons of milk for free, my toothpaste for free, my dawn for 25 cents and 6 dollars off my next purchase by knowing how to combine coupons with sales, all at my local grocery store.

The internet is full of easy to use sites that do the work for you. I would never spend $50 a year to join some "club."

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 3:19PM
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I dumped my Sam's Club membership years ago bc I got so sick of the incredibly long lines to check out EVERY TIME I WENT THERE. And a lot of the time, they wouldn't even have boxes to pack stuff in, which was a ridiculous PITA. I would not have even been a member if a friend hadn't piggybacked me onto his company's membership. Just for the hell of it one day, I ran around and spot checked pricing to compare against purchases at other stores, and I found their pricing to be all over the place -- somewhat better on some items, dollars higher on others. I don't have time to keep track of pricing all the time. To me, if they're going to advertise themselves as a "warehouse club" with great pricing, yet I find quite a bit of their pricing to be way more than a local grocery store, that's dishonest. Plus, should I really have to pay a store to go into it and spend money? I don't think so. It's like paying a cover charge to go into a bar and buy drinks. No thx.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Ordinarily I'm not a fan of paid memberships of any type but our Costco offers some items I don't usually find at the local grocery.

My most recent visit netted Costco nearly 250 bucks but I probably won't return for at least another three / four months or whenever my $13.87 Kirkland 120 load detergent runs out! In the meantime the dry goods I purchased will probably last my household of one for several months. I've also parceled and frozen my foodstuffs and should get about 20 - 30 meals out of that with a few stops in between for fresh produce, milk and bread.

All in all no heavy duty grocery shopping on the horizon for at least a couple of months making my $40.00 membership a worthwhile investment.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 5:54PM
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Here's a 60 day pass to try out BJ's for those of you don't already have a membership.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 1:24PM
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Lots of differing opinions! I belong to Costco and it works great for my family. Of course, Costco happens to be very nearby and convenient so that helps. The items that I buy and find to be better priced include frozen berries (so easy to have to make smoothies), nuts (many varieties), green beans, lettuce, cucumbers, parmasean cheese, grapes, asparagus (you have to know the grocery store price--not always the best value), tzaziki, sliced turkey (fresh, not processed), cheese (many varieties), nestles baking chips, chicken breasts/thighs, odwalla OJ, bully sticks (these cost 25% of what they do at PetCo/PetSmart), grain d'or bread (always 50% of the nonsale grocery store price), baked items (brownie bites, muffins). The meat is frequently less but not always less than grocery store sale prices but dh swears it tastes better so we buy it there even if it's not necessarily less expensive. Vitamins and gum are also less expensive. I do have a large family so we're able to eat the larger sizes of perishables before they go bad and the return policy is great. Oh, if you need a 1/4 sheet customized sheet cake, Costco sells them for about $13 which is almost 1/2 what my locally market costs.

I guess it just depends on your personal needs and what other resources you have in your community!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 1:12PM
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There are just two of us, and I don't even buy meat there, but I'm still very happy with my Costco membership. It's not just the price, although on some things the savings is amazing, but the quality of their products that makes membership worthwhile.

We go through a pound of organic mesclun almost every week -- unbeatable at a price that has been between $4 and $5 over the past 18 months. We're lowcarbers, so we also go through a quart of heavy cream each week -- at several dollars less than supermarket prices (most recently less than $3 a quart). The savings from each of these by itself is more than the cost of the annual membership.

Somewhat less frequently, we buy butter, eggs, standard and fancy cheeses -- it's the only place we've found Rosey goat cheese (rosemary coated aged goat cheese) -- and their big chunks of cheese actually keep longer than the same ones in smaller packages from Trader Joe's, so it's worthwhile for those cheeses we really love. We live in an area where we can't count on getting good avocados, so I appreciate their bargain price for Wholly Guacamole which I use as a base for my own recipe. And the wild Alaskan salmon burgers they carry are delicious and take less then ten minutes to prepare. Also nuts, pet food, paper goods, fresh flowers, gardening supplies, and the occasional electronic item or appliance.

Then there's the savings from contact lenses and glasses, another cover-the-cost-of-the-membership if you need these things (and I think you do have to be a member). You don't to be a member to use their pharmacy, and their prices are great -- hopefully my insurance company appreciates it, but for me it's the convenience of a quick stop while I'm doing other shopping. And their gas is almost always cheaper than even the cheapest gas station around here, and we don't have to go out of our way.

I rarely buy other frozen or nonperishable foods because of the quantities, or fresh fish -- it may only be this unit but their fillets have come complete with scales. The only Kirkland brand item that has disappointed us was their coffee, but that may well have been because of how long it took to use it rather than the quality when first opened.

Of course, not everything is an incredible bargain. But for those who can't or don't want to take the trouble to cherry pick other stores' loss leaders, or to recognize when the size offered doesn't match their storage or usage needs, they're probably safer at Costco than other places, if only because of their great return policy.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 7:26PM
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I guess it just depends on your personal needs and what other resources you have in your community!

That's it exactly. I keep coming back and reading new posts to this thread thinking someone is going to mention some food or item I hadn't realized was going to be much cheaper at costco.

But everything people talk about is either something I don't buy (pet food for example) or something I can get cheaper elsewhere. For example, chicken breasts get mentioned a lot. But they are cheaper on sale at the grocery store by my house, and they go on sale there often enough to keep me well stocked.

Cheeses & nuts, I have access to two different import grocery stores that sell both of those items for less than Costco. Produce is readily available at regular grocers near me, fresh, lots of variety, good prices and you pick each one out instead of being forced to buy them prepackaged. Bread - several stores & a couple of bakeries nearby have great bread selections at lower prices than Costco. Meat, fish, chicken, again, when they're on sale at the grocery stores, they're cheaper than Costco. Wine I buy at World Market - better selection and price range than Costco.

HOWEVER, the Costco which is across the street from my office is doing a booming business. Parking lot is always full. As I said before, this leads me to believe that for the most part, at least around here, the bargains and value are perceived rather than real.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 11:10AM
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lowspark, you may be right about bargains and value being perceived rather than real, but not everyone has access to all the stores you mention. When we lived in smalltown, TN there were NO bakeries or import stores...just a superWalMart which I hated and a worn out Kroger. I would have loved a Costco!
And you and I might not mind driving to several different stores to pick up items cheaper but a lot of people do not like doing that. I think they realise that maybe Costco or Sams in not the cheapest on everything, but because they can go in, get everything they want in one trip, they take the tradeoff.
I am lucky where I live now I have great little stores to get fruits and vegetables, cheese, lots of bakeries and I enjoy running around every couple weeks gathering my groceries. If I had a full time job or small kids in the house I can see the appeal of a Costco or a Sams.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:44PM
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