Sunday, October 3, 2010

Costco vs Sam's Club

When my lovely wife and I were getting married, I was talking to my boss about buying the wine and champagne for the reception.  She said the company had an extra membership to Sam's Club and gave it to me.  It was great.  We got all the alcohol super cheap comparatively. 

Three years later and we were questioning if we should stick with Wal-Mart's super bulk club or take a chance on Costco. 

Here are the problems with Sam's:
  • Meat products don't seem to last for any length of time and seem substandard.
  • Items like rice, flour and sugar can only be purchased in ginormous bags that bakeries use.
  • Produce was a crap chute.  All of it rots ten times faster than ones we buy at the regular grocery store.
  • Biggest of all...I have zero respect for Wal-Mart and feel like I'm betraying my own sensibilities by maintaining my patronage.
Sam's pricing though was great on many things we did purchase with regularity. We decided do some comparison shopping at Costco.  For the most part they were equivalent.  The biggest perk we found is that Costco sends out coupons to use on top of the regular prices.  Great really. 

We made the switch.  On the whole, we are happy with the change.  Just some little things.

Here are the problems with Costco:
  • Some of the items we purchased at Sam's aren't available or aren't the same type.  i.e. Softsoap variety pack, sounds like a minor thing, but we've been using them for years and now it's gone.  I know I should be a good environmentalist and just refill my current pumps with regular soap, but I'd rather whine.
  • Condoms.  Folks, this might be TMI, so beware.  Costco, for the past 4 months, has only carried the new Trojan Ecstasy condoms.  These things are ridiculous.  In theory they are great, but I've noticed an issue that renders them pointless if you get my drift.  I've already had 2 children in less than 2 years, I'm not looking for a third in under 3!  Have a variety of at least TWO brands or types, please.
  • Their produce is about as good as Sam's.  Once it's out of their controlled temperature, it rots in no time. 
  • Milk.  Gross. Their milk expires a week before the due date. 
  • Membership is more expensive than Sam's (basic at Sam's $30/year basic at Costco $50/year).
Both companies had great variety of non food products at great prices.  Costco however seems to win with us now on the toy options.  While Sam's was good, Costco seems outstanding.  I'm not going to go into detail here, it's just been fun picking out Christmas presents at incredibly low prices!

While this may not be the most in depth research and insight into the two companies.  We purchased the Executive membership from Costco.  You pay $100 and earn 2% back on every purchase.  If at the end of the year, you don't make at least $50 they will refund your membership and charge only the Basic fee.  This in conjunction with the coupons makes me trust the company and be willing to stick it out with them.

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