Shopping Clubs: Deal or No Deal? (Part II)
One of the liveliest blog posts I've done since Shop To It's launch was on shopping clubs. As you may recall, I did a rundown of what not to buy at members-only clubs like BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco. As regular shoppers of these clubs know, the stores are humongous beasts filled with everything from food to tires. I covered a small portion of the stores when I wrote about deals on meat and wine. But many readers posted comments on the deals they've found on things like electronics and beauty products. So I went back to BJ's to explore electronics, beauty products, medications and baby products. Here's what I found:
Electronics: My conclusion? Shop around. It was hit or miss at BJ's Alexandria store, which had among its selection televisions, DVD players, laptop computers, cameras and movies. BJ's prices were lower on its Sony Bravia Home Theater system, its Bose Home Theater system, as well as most of its televisions. The best TV deal I saw was a Sony 40-inch LCD, high-definition set for $300 less than Costco's price tag of $1,500. One of its Sony Vaio laptops, which offered a rebate taken at the register, was about $20 cheaper than the same one seen at Wal-Mart. Many of its cameras were cheaper online. I only found a deal on one of its Sony Cyber-shot cameras, which was selling for $120, slightly less than the lowest online price of $137 at B&H. Amazon.com has a better deal on DVD movies, which sell for around $17. The same titles were being sold at BJ's for $19. Just be sure to spend at least $25 at Amazon to get the free shipping. Take a pass on BJ's GPS devices, which sell for nearly $100 more than what you find at Amazon. The Xbox 360 also sold for $150 more than Circuit City's sale price of $280.
Beauty products and medications: BJ's definitely had better deals on drugstore items. A 70-count bottle of the popular allergy medication, Claritin, sold for $32 at BJ's, compared to $22 at Giant Food for a 30-count bottle. The per-unit price, which is the cost of the medication for every 100 capsules, was $45.70 at BJ's and $73.30 at Giant. Same deal with Tylenol Extra Strength. BJ's 325-count bottle sold for $14.19, compared to a 150-count bottle at Giant for $12.49. The per-unit price here was $4.37 for every 100 capsules at BJ's, compared to $8.33 for every 100 at Giant. It also makes sense to pick up your beauty products at BJ's. A 3.4-ounce container of Olay's Total Effects moisturizer sold for $28 at BJ's, compared to a bottle half that size at Giant, which sold for $20. It was the same price difference for Olay's Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum. You can also get a better deal on Dove's shampoo and conditioner at BJ's. A 40-ounce bottle of either shampoo or conditioner sold for $7, compared to $8.49 for a 25.4-ounce bottle at Giant. One could argue, however, that stores like Giant do have pretty good sales and it's possible to get a better deal there when one such sale is occurring.
Baby products: Get baby formula and diapers at BJ's. The price differences aren't huge but could save you a few bucks. The shopping club had a 36-ounce can of Similac Advance with Iron for $30, cheaper than Amazon's smaller 25.7-ounce can for $36, plus $6 for shipping. It was the same deal with Nestle Good Start. A 24-ounce can of its Natural Cultures baby formula sold for $26, compared to $30 at Diapers.com, which gives you free shipping on orders above $50. BJ's has a whole row dedicated to diapers, which had slightly better deals compared to online prices. A 184-count box of Pampers Swaddlers was $35, compared to nearly $40 at Amazon and Diapers.com. Pampers Easy Ups were $25 for an 80-diaper box, compared to $27 at Diapers.com.
Where do you find the best deals on some of these products? Do you belong to a members-only shopping club? Which shopping club should I visit next? Post a comment and tell me about it.
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