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Neizvestnaya's avatar

If you've shopped Sam's Club, Costco or both, did one consistently have better prices?

Asked by Neizvestnaya (22642points) September 24th, 2011

I’ve got an offer of free membership to both and already grocery shop our local super Wal Mart but am looking for better prices or outstanding products people have discovered and can recommend.

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14 Answers

geeky_mama's avatar

At least in my experience..they both had about the same (good) prices on similar bulk dry-good items like chips, snacks, candy, brand name paper products like Kleenex, or detergents like Tide..but what made me like Costco better than Sam’s were these three things:
1) Quality of the meats/produce at Costco were bar none, the BEST in our area. The meats weren’t always inexpensive..but they were very high quality. The “fresh” items (cheese, veggies, fruits, seafood, soups, deli meats) and bakery items were always MUCH nicer and higher quality at our Costco.
2) Costco employees are treated very well. I have some dubious feelings towards Wal-Mart (which Sam’s is a part of)..and Costco is known for treating it’s employees very well in turn, this means that I always dealt with the same pleasant, knowledgeable folks every time. Almost no employee turnover..it was kind of neat. They became familiar faces and could recognize me on sight, too. So, when I need groceries for our large family or for entertaining a large group—it made it easier to choose Costco and I felt better about supporting them than Sam’s.
3) Our Sam’s doesn’t have gas pumps, our Costco does—and it offers discounts (usually about 5 to 10 cents off per gallon as compared to the lowest pump prices in our area). So, if I was going to make the effort to drive out to shop and fight the crowds..I’d choose our Costco for the inexpensive gas at the pumps (where I’d fill up the car tank on my way out of the lot) ..because it made it a better use of my time than going to Sam’s.

So, in short: I’d pick Costco over Sam’s every time.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@geeky_mama: Cool, thank you. We eat meat so yeah, we’d love to find some better cuts. I’d like to get away from Wal Mart but where we live, they are the closest grocery and it becomes almost hard not to shop there because it has everything in one spot and stays open late. I’m going to check out the gas prices, that’s sounds like a nice bonus right there!

Kardamom's avatar

@Neizvestnaya We used to go to both Sam’s and Costco. Sam’s was right up the street, but they closed it recently, due to the fact that it was right next door to the Walmart, which they just turned into a Super-Walmart (I guess they didn’t want to compete with themselves). I liked both stores.

I used to buy Member’s Mark Pesto at Sam’s Club (22 oz. jar for about $7.98). I make a killer pasta salad with it. They also have some good refrigerated tortellini (in a two pack) for a pretty good price (which I can’t seem to find right now) It was also called Member’s Mark, but I think they changed the name to Artisan Fresh.

Both stores have very good prices on blocks of cheese and big containers of dips.

Costco seems like they have more “sample days” which is great if you want to try out new products. They also have 4lb. containers of Red Bliss or Regular Reser’s Brand Potato Salad for about $2.97, which is ridiculously cheap and it’s very tasty. They also have big bags of almonds, walnuts and pecans (which we freeze) for a really good price. I think they’re about $16 for a 3 lb. bag.

They also have 3 packs of DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza 3 packs for $15.51.

Costco seems to have a bigger selection of vegetarian items too, like Amy’s Soup, some Morningstar Farms products, and Boca Burgers, which is really good for me.

But my favorite thing about Costco is their huge slices of pizza which you get at the concessions window. The slices are big enough for a whole meal and are less than $2 each. And it is some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted!

We also get Litter Purrfect clumping cat litter for $6.99 for a 30 lb. container at Costco. Our cat likes it and it seems like it has better odor control than other litters we’ve tried. It has a slight scent of lemongrass when you pour it. You can’t beat that price.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Kardamom: Excellent suggestions! We like the Di Giorno pizzas but they’re kind of pricey at Wal Mart, I have been wanting to find better prices for the almonds, pecans and brazil nuts we buy in bulk and we also need that clumping litter for mom’s cat! I’m leaning towards Costco… got to go in there and look around.

john65pennington's avatar

Costco wins by a landslide, considering all the facts.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Any of you cooked and eaten the party sized prime rib? I’m going to go tonight and price things that might be good to serve dinner party guests so if there are pre packaged appetizers or whatnots you’ve really liked, I need all the help I can get get.

jerv's avatar

I pay just under $10 for a 36-pack of Pepsi in an area where supermarkets charge $6.50–7.00 for a 12-pack. I find similar savings on other things I buy a lot. The $1.50 hot dog and soda deal at the concession stand is also a bargain, especially given how hard it is to find a passable dawg in Seattle.

The one time I went through the local Sam’s Club, I was unimpressed enough that I haven’t been back since.

Kardamom's avatar

They have a whole section of frozen appetizers that you heat up in the oven. Of course they also have some great pre-made appetizers and dips in the refrigerated deli sections too like Stonemill Farms Artichoke, Spinach and Parmesan Dip served with their pita chips. Or you might like Nancy’s Petite Quiche

And look for Don Miguel’s Cantina Grill Products. They make mini tacos, rolled tacos and empanadas.

And Minh Eggrolls

Or you could create This Kaluha Brie which some gal online made from Costco’s Brie Wheel

Kahlua-Pecan-Brown Sugar Baked Brie

1 whole wheel of Brie (Costco sells a 19 ounce Brie wheel which is perfect for this recipe)

1 cup Kahlua

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup chopped pecans (I left mine whole because I like they way they look)

Accompaniment: crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start by carefully slicing the rind off the top of the Brie wheel, but do not remove completely. Bake for 15 minutes. When the Brie is done baking, the top can be easily removed to expose the creamy cheese.

While the Brie is baking, in a medium saucepan, bring Kahlua and brown sugar to a boil and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until a syrupy consistency is made. Throw the pecans in for 2 minutes at the end to warm them through and completely cover with the sauce.

Remove the Brie from the oven (removing top rind) and pour Kahlua sauce over the Brie.

Serve warm with crackers.

Kardamom's avatar

Oh, I forgot about these huge cans of Trenton Farms Cheddar Cheese Dip My cousin put this in her crockpot and everybody made their own nachos. She put out Costco tortilla chips, with bowls of salsa and jalapenos.

They also have these containers of Ovolini which you can serve in a bowl along with some pitted kalamata olives and marinated mushrooms. Just put out a container of toothpicks and let your guest pick out what they want. The other alternative is to get some of those small wooden skewers and load them up with an ovolini ball, a grape tomato and a piece of fresh pineapple, then lay them out on a bed of lettuce on a platter.

The containers of mixed greens, that come in a lidded plastic tub are an excellent bargain, pricewise. There’s enough to fee 12 to 20 people and it’s super convenient, if you want to make your salad at a picnic, you can serve it right out of the container. They also have really good prices on their bagged, whole heads of romaine lettuce and packages of mushrooms!

tranquilsea's avatar

We do the bulk of our shopping at Costco. Their produce is usually superior to everything offered at Walmart and relatively inexpensive too. Their meat is great. They seem to have a ton of organic foodstuffs that are very reasonably priced.

Plus I love how they treat their employees.

Buttonstc's avatar

Definitely Costco.

Plus their prices for Prescriptions beats out ANY other place without question.

I was really surprised by how much more they charged at Sam’s for Prescriptions considering their buying clout. They could charge a lot less and still make a decent profit. Costco does it.

The other thing about Costco is that you can buy things in smaller unit packages. You still have to buy the same total amount as typically at Sam’s but instead of two huge cans or jars, Costco will have it in a shrink-wrapped sixpack of smaller unit amts. That’s much more convenient for people who don’t have large families.

I always get my regular Presc. at Costco (since they can’t legally restrict that to only members) so I’m regularly keeping track of their prices and seasonal items while waiting. Then, when I visit a friend of mine living in another state, she let’s me shop on her Costco membership.

On a regular basis here, my landlord/friend got me a card on his Sams membership so I shop there occasionally but keep regular track of prices on large or seasonal items.

I wish the situations were reversed as I definitely prefer Costco hands down. I’ve had the opportunity to compare them for the last several years and there’s no question about it.

Last year when I was contemplating buying a larger LCD TV, Costco consistently had better bargains.

Considering that they’re a warehouse store, I’m constantly surprised by how high the prices are at Sam’s.

Even for the staple things like Toilet paper, or Soda or Vitamin Water, I can ALWAYS find them much cheaper at Meijers (or sometimes even Kroger) as they go on sale at regular intervals.

It’s true that Sams prices may be lower than these other two stores at their regular prices but their SALE prices are so much better than Sams.

So that’s when I stock up. So even tho I have essentially a free membership to Sams, I just use it for a few unique brand names items I buy in bulk and Avocados and usually a Rotisserie Chicken. I definitely would not pay for a yearly membership.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc That last paragraph reminds me:

My wife and I pay $100/yr for the “Executive” Costco membership. That 2% back pays for our renewal, which makes it well worth the extra $50 over the regular membership. I mean, would you rather pay $50/year, or $100 once and then get paid to renew?

tranquilsea's avatar

@jerv We have the Costco American Express and using it for just our groceries would by far and away pay for the whole membership. We use it for basically everything we can and get paid about $400 to $500 a year.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Update:

We lurve Costco!

Gas is .15 cents less than at our cheapest Circle K favorite.

Bacon wrapped sirloins, 6 to a package are delicious and tender no matter how well done.

Our dogs each got an awesome new bed for $20. that comes with a washable zip cover.

Bulk unroasted nuts are less than Trader Joes.

You can buy already boiled and peeled eggs that are yummy and quick to make into fancy treats.

Several produce items are the same or less than when we find them sporadically at the .99 Cent Store.

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