Shopping Clubs: Deal or No Deal?
My mother-in-law vowed recently that she wouldn't buy her meat and fish anywhere else but Costco. My mother gushes over the great deals on wine at BJ's Wholesale Club. And one of my friends heads straight to Sam's Club when she's throwing a party. Personally, I've always been a bit terrified at the thought of actually buying a 5-gallon drum of tuna and trying to find 50 ways to prepare the canned fish. And where would I store 500 rolls of toilet paper?
To learn more about these mega shopping clubs, I decided to take a stroll through BJ's to see what they have to offer and to conduct an informal survey of club prices vs. those of a traditional grocer like Giant. Shopping at BJ's is like shopping at a grocery store, drug store, electronics store, mattress store, and a tire store, all neatly packaged in a large drab warehouse. I focused my mission on the items I normally buy at the grocery store. What I found was worth the trip -- and the annual membership fee (which is $40 at Sam's Club, $45 for BJ's and $50 at Costco). The bargains: meat, seafood, beer and wine. The items you should pass on: paper goods and dog food.
Beer and wine: I guess it is time to throw a party! The alcohol prices were super cheap. A 24-pack of 12-ounce Heineken bottles was $23.99. That's $1 a bottle. Coors Light was even cheaper at $14.99 for the same box. The wine section featured many bottles for under $10 like BV Coastal Merlot for $6.99, which normally sells for around $11.99 and Rosemont Shiraz for $6.99. (I've seen Rosemont for $10.99 at my local grocery store.)
Meat and fish: OK, I hate to admit it, but my mother-in-law was right. I was hard pressed to find chicken breasts, but lean ground beef was $2.99 per pound, which is normally around $4.29. London Broil was $3.49 per pound, which I've seen for $4.99. And the rib eye was $7.49 per pound, again much lower than the $11.99 per pound it goes for at my grocer. Salmon fillets were a cool $5.99 per pound. I've never found them under $8.99. Scallops were $5.50 per pound. Wow. Enough said.
Paper goods: Traditional grocery stores and places like Target have better deals. A 24-roll pack of Charmin toilet paper sold at BJ's for $19.99, whereas the same pack sold at Giant Food for $6 less than that. Bounty paper towels blew me away: A puny pack of 12 rolls sold at BJ's for $14.99, yet a pack with three more rolls went for $9.99 at Giant.
Dog food: I searched the aisles for the food my snobby dog eats -- Iams MiniChunks -- and found that Giant sold it for nearly $2 less.
What are your results? What's worth hauling home from a shopping club and what is better reserved for your local grocer?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: dynagirl | October 25, 2007 5:49 AM
Posted by: momof3 | October 25, 2007 7:12 AM
Posted by: To dynagirl | October 25, 2007 8:15 AM
Posted by: Columbia | October 25, 2007 9:16 AM
Posted by: EB | October 25, 2007 9:25 AM
Posted by: LBH219 | October 25, 2007 9:56 AM
Posted by: alexva | October 25, 2007 11:30 AM
Posted by: NW in Alexandria | October 25, 2007 11:30 AM
Posted by: aswa4681 | October 25, 2007 12:36 PM
Posted by: DCer | October 25, 2007 1:14 PM
Posted by: DCer | October 25, 2007 1:56 PM
Posted by: sailor | October 25, 2007 3:36 PM
Posted by: faraz | October 25, 2007 3:55 PM
Posted by: sean mcveigh | October 25, 2007 7:28 PM
Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | October 26, 2007 9:47 AM
Posted by: Arlington | October 26, 2007 10:20 AM
Posted by: Costco is better than BJ's or Sam's | October 26, 2007 10:52 AM
Posted by: Sarah | October 26, 2007 12:08 PM
Posted by: Cousin M | October 26, 2007 3:45 PM
Posted by: anna miller | October 27, 2007 3:51 PM
Posted by: Silver Spring | October 30, 2007 10:18 AM
Posted by: ljp | October 30, 2007 12:48 PM
Posted by: tntkate | October 30, 2007 2:14 PM
Posted by: Melissa | October 31, 2007 12:18 PM
Posted by: Trim | November 5, 2007 3:16 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.