Costco vs. BJ’s vs. Sam’s Club Wholesale Clubs

Oh here we go again. Yes folks, another post about which is better, Costco vs. BJ’s vs. Sam’s Club wholesale clubs.

Let truth be told, we like them all. Each wholesale club offer a variety of foods in bulk, which saves us gas and time. Oh yeah, this post is about our food shopping, not about buying a plastic shed, swing set or a six-pack of motorcycles.

Throughout the past few years, we have been members of Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s wholesale clubs. The latter with only one visit. I think I’ll go chronologically with my views on all of them.

1. Sam’s Club – I think we were members of Sam’s Club about eight years ago and then again four or five years ago. It was pretty good. I don’t have anything bad to say about it. The only problem is that both times, the club was at least a half hour away from where we lived. This is actually a good thing because living near a big wholesale club can’t be good for quality of life. By that, I mean traffic, ugliness of the roads (strip malls, etc…) and things in general. We tend to gravitate more towards pretty rural areas where fewer people live. Although, those places are getting crowded as well.

From what I remember, Sam’s Club had a decent selection of food. I liked the big bags of frozen veggies, but I do remember getting potato and seafood salad each time we went. Pickles too. We don’t eat that stuff anymore, so Sam’s Club might be a bit limited for us. They had a great produce area and a good selection of food overall. Again, nothing bad to say.

2. Costco – From reading over many websites that deal with which is the best wholesale club, I think the public has reach a consensus that Costco is it. I will say that the last Costco (of which we are still members) we went to offered gasoline at a nice discount. I used to wait until we had to fill the car before we would head up there.

The food at Costco was good, but did get a bit boring at times. I liked the fact that they offered cage free eggs and had a really nice produce department that had some pretty big packaging. One of the more disappointing things about Costco is the checkout lines. Since the store is so popular, the lines get kind of long, even at off-peak times. We never visited the store at peak times, but from what we saw, Costco did a good job at keeping things moving along.

Really, the only reason we decided to leave Costco is because of the long distance between where we live and the store. Everything else was okay.

3. BJ’s – We just signed up for a membership at BJ’s wholesale club. We made sure that this was one of the newer and larger clubs, because we don’t like the smaller, older ones. The lighting and selection is better at the club we signed up with than the sister club just a few towns over.

This BJ’s club is about 20 miles closer to where we live than Costco is. There are two reasons that pushed us into changing; distance and store hours. Again, the store is closer, but the store hours of Costco were really getting on our nerves. It opens late and closes early. As I expressed above, we like to avoid the crowds. That’s pretty difficult to do when there are short store hours. We were forced to drive in traffic and shop with people we don’t necessarily care for.

We did a walk through of BJ’s before we made the leap. It had everything we needed and then some. There is a really nice selection of veggie burgers and other things, but they are missing the big box of green tea that my better half likes. We’ll just get that somewhere else. Also, this BJ’s doesn’t offer discounted gas, but I’ll survive. Perhaps I won’t need so much gas anymore, now that I shaved off 40 miles every time I go shopping at one of these places.

Just like the other clubs, BJ’s is in a crowded area of town. I don’t like that, but I am sure I’ll make it through.

So, what’s the reason we go shopping at big wholesale clubs when we really don’t like the idea of their existence? Well, it’s to save time and money. We do a good portion of our shopping at a local market and a produce stand, but for getting those staple items, we have found these stores to be the best. I only like to shop about once every two months and getting cases of things is better than getting single items. It keeps me off the road and saves gas and annoyance. I don’t think anyone likes driving around crowded areas and if they have the chance to avoid it, they would take that opportunity.

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2 thoughts on “Costco vs. BJ’s vs. Sam’s Club Wholesale Clubs

  1. K

    I am a member of all three of these warehouse stores. My personal favorite is Costco b/c although the choices can sometimes seem limited, they have the best employees and the best management of lines. I agree with you that Costco can have massive lines many times but what they do to control this is to have two employees for every register. One scans the items and the other “carts” the items. It makes for quick moving lines even at peak times. Sam’s club is one of the worst due to the fact that the employees always seem to have a problem with an item or their register which requires them to flip their light on and wait for a manager to come and fix it. I cannot take the lack of training/knowledge of employees and/or the poor computer system. It is infuriating and therefore we only shop there if we don’t have much time to get to the other stores or if we need ice (they sell 8 bags of ice for about $6-$7 which is a steal!). BJ’s club is my second fave after Costco because I find that BJ’s has a better variety of items and also sometimes has smaller “bulk” packaging than Costco. BJ’s also has decent lines but the thing that puts them a bit below Costco is that they don’t put two employees on one line and they have self-serve lines. Nothing is more time sapping than those silly self-serve lines! Inevitably there will be something that doesn’t scan right or your coupons aren’t being accepted so you have to call the manager over anyway. I never use those checkout lines unless I literally have one or two items (which you never do in one of these warehouses!). They back up the whole system and should be eliminated. This is where BJ’s club fails in my eyes. However, they can somewhat redeem themselves with the fact that they accept manufacturers’ coupons along with their own store coupons. We all go to these warehouses to save money and time and this is one area where BJ’s shines!!!

    1. Jay Post author

      I must say that this is an excellent addition to my review of these stores. I don’t use coupons much, so your perspective on this area is helpful.


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