Sam’s Club vs. Costco (part 1)

Sam's Club vs. Costco

I’ve been a Costco member for several years now and loved it, but last week (and still at this moment) there was a Livingsocial deal to get a year long Sam’s Club Pro membership for what amounts to $3 after all is said and done (pay $45, get a $20 gift card, $22 vouchers.)

As there’s a Sam’s Club just four miles away and my nearest Costco is four times that, I figured what the hell. I’ve been against Walmart and Sam’s Clubs for their labor practices, running small business out of business, etc. However my inner hippie was getting tired of driving an additional 20 miles to pick up minor items. I purchased the deal.

I’ll preface the following with I’m very familiar with Nashville’s two main Costcos, I’m a little familiar with one in Oregon, but this is based on the ones I know. Your Costcos and Sam’s Clubs will vary. This is the only Sam’s Club I think I’ve ever been to, and I’ll be trying another one soon.

The first thing I was struck with was how absurdly ill prepared Sam’s Club in Nashville was for the LivingSocial deal. I stood at a help desk for nearly 35 minutes as page after page went out from the two workers attempting to get a manager over for gift card access.

At twenty minutes in the manager showed up and opened the register for the other person, but I was not at the point at that time where my worker could dispense with the card. I got left behind as the manager ran off to open a cash register and help swap out some people. About 12 minutes later she got back.

So, the start was not particularly hot at Sam’s Club. Meh, I figured it might have been my timing. Something to note, but move on.

Trip one to Sam’s Club mostly involved me scouting the store, looking in electronics, baby, snacks, etc. I ended up blowing my $20 gift card on batteries and a 4-pack of Guinness that was $0.70 cheaper than anywhere I’ve seen them before. I also felt like an alien as these huge aisle kept being blocked over and over again by one person and one cart angled at the optimum asshole range.

Getting out was a nightmare. The Antioch Pike/Harding Road Sam’s Club has two exits, but at that point I only knew of one. It backed up into the parking lot and the backup was causing a backup onto the street. The design of the lot was terrible. I’m pretty sure I could fix it with a hammer.

I left with 40 AA batteries for about $17, and a Guinness, and I think I dropped about seven bucks on my Mastercard. I felt ok with the deal, then I sat down and looked at Costco.com and the same batteries were $2 less. Should be noted Costco doesn’t sell Guinness here so I can’t compare.

What I took away from visit #1 to Sam’s was that if you’re a junk food addict, need eleventeen types of Soda, have a baby or dog, they’ve got a much wider selection than Costco. The pet aisle puts Costco to shame in terms of selection they have, the choices in the baby section are significantly greater, and aisle after aisle of junk food and sugar water destroy Costco’s meager offerings.

But

There’s always a but.

The diapers, admittedly from Sam’s sister store Walmart, we’re not getting again. The bottles we bought on trip 2 we’re returning. We don’t have a dog and their cat selection (Fancy Beast,) cost more than buying it at Kroger. Their wet wipes were also recalled recently, and not fondly.

There was a notable lack of things that were spicier than mayonnaise. We tried to locate Sriracha, it wasn’t happening. It looks like Sam’s may have carried it in the past but the spicy cock sauce was ne’er to be found there.

All baby stuff purchased so far: bad or being returned.

I’ll write more about this later, but in round 1 of a Costco customer in a Sam’s Club, Costco won, was less expensive, while they had a lesser selection they had higher quality.