You can dispute over and over whether Costco or Sam’s Club is better until you are blue in the face. Consumer Reports online has an investigation on Costco vs. Sam’s Club.

However, I don’t want to post on their opinions of the two warehouses but the good info they hide at the bottom of the article. This is the kind of information that is good no matter what store you shop at.

Make a list and stick to it. – Personally, I also take a calculator so I can stay on budget.

Know how to identify super-bargains. At Costco, “.97” at the end of a price generally indicates discontinued or slow-moving products. At Sam’s, a “C” at the end of the item number denotes a canceled item.

Compare the club’s unit prices to those at your supermarket for heavily discounted staples. Supermarkets might be less expensive. – This is easiest if you keep a notebook for pricing information, unless your memory is like a steel trap.

For big-ticket items, compare the club price to that of other retailers nearby both online and offline.

Consider splitting large buys with friends.
Otherwise, don’t buy in bulk perishables or medications with a short shelf life (check the expiration dates). You’ll end up tossing a lot away. – This is a BIG one; don’t buy it if you are unsure if you can use it all. 2¢ an ounce may be a wonderful deal, but it won’t be if you end up throwing away 300 ounces of it.

Try unfamiliar products judiciously. You don’t want to get stuck with say, a gallon of Brand X Vidalia onion salad dressing. – This is what is so wonderful about a supermarket; small sizes for trying new stuff instead of the new brand of maple syrup that you hate but have 85 ounces of it now.

Pay with cash; it’s a reality check on how much you’re spending. – I say to just stick on a budget, hence the calculator mentioned at the top of this list

Shop on weekdays,
preferably when the store opens or in midafternoon. That’s when crowds tend to be lighter. – AMEN, Weekends stink!

Not sure about joining?
In many states you can request a day pass at Sam’s Club or Costco and pay a surcharge, typically 10 percent over what members pay. Costco used to have a similar program, but discontinued it. Now, only members can purchase there. – Perhaps you can tag along with a friend or co-worker instead.


  1. Orchid64 // Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:57:00 PM  

    The bottom line in the Sam's Club and Costco shopping decision is what sort of business model do you want to support? Do you shop only thinking about the absolute bottom line or do you care about how the employees get treated?

    Costco fights with it stockholders to raise wages for employees and provide health insurance. They also only accept good deals and regularly lower prices even though they don't "have to". Note that the food court in Japan's Tamasakai lowered a polish dog/drink combo price to 200 yen, which is obscenely low for Tokyo. They could easily price it at 400 yen and move that menu item.

    Sam's Club (as an arm of Wal-mart), on the other hand, treats its employees poorly - no health insurance, poor wages. Do you want to save a few bucks and support that sort of business, or spend a few more and support a business like Costco?

    Money isn't everything, especially when you're talking about a relatively small amount.

  2. Ashley // Thursday, April 01, 2010 12:36:00 PM  

    I usually shop where I can use coupons. As a college student every penny saved counts.

    I frequently visit,, and because they also offer great deals, sometimes daily, for gadgets and other products. Both sites have printable coupons as well as coupon codes for the online shoppers. Stores include Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Sears, HP, Dell and other great brands.

    So for me, it's not a matter of grocery store vs. warehouse. It's about where I can use coupons to save the most money.