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Thread: Costco vs Sams Club/BJs? What is the difference?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
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    North Carolina
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    Costco vs Sams Club/BJs? What is the difference?

    I have heard so many people talk about Costco on this board that I was wondering what was better/different about Costco than BJ's or Sams Club? There is a Sams Club and a Costco nearby, and a BJs a little bit farther....Sams club is $30 membership and Costco is $45. I am intrigued by Costco due to the response of everyone on this board about it. I am looking to get a membership today to one of them, but which one?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    IL
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    12,505
    I belong to both Sam's and Costco. I've visited BJ's many times on their one day passes in both the Buffalo area, and PA. For me, Sam's is closer, but I prefer Costco (not really sure why, I just do). You really need to visit both to see which you like. Most clubs will let you do that before you join. I belive they will refund your momey if you are not happy with the membership.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    St Louis metro
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    3,672
    I'm not 100% certain, but I've heard this from a few different ex-employees of Costco.....so FWIW, Costco pays their employees much better than Sam's does. We used to live near a Sam's years ago and had a complimentary membership so I would shop there sometimes. IMO, Costco seemed a bit more "upscale" in some of their products compared to Sam's.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Chicagoland
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    6,729
    I have a SAM'S membership now. It's expiring soon, and I'm getting a COSTCO membership. Both have gas, COSTCO is closer. COSTCO has more produce and healthy food. The packaging seems to be aimed more towards consumers than businesses, so you don't wind up with cases of grapes, etc. The meat prices, etc. were almost identical...within 2-3 cents a pound. A friend and I made a list of the things we normally bought at SAMS and priced them at COSTCO. COSTCO also has CityPass tickets for about a $15 discount each. Since we're right outside of downtown Chicago, that would save us money on the museums and Art Institute. (There are other cities available as well.)

    Oh, another reason to go with COSTCO...you can buy coffins through them. (weird, but COSTCO seems better for me)
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    2,961
    We had a Sam's membership for a while, but it was never a place that appealed to me much. Then when Costco came, they gave us a free trial membership. It has a much nicer atmosphere, in my opinion, and I like their food selection much better. We go every week or two to pick up something (it is very conveniently located, obviously). I like their baked goods (they make an awesome bread with baked-in chunks of garlic), good cheese selection (they even have authentic parmesano-reggiano, fresh mozzarella, etc.), meats/seafood. We buy their coffee beans (they have several to choose from), occasionally their Cheesecake Factory frozen assorted cheesecake slices, bags of dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, prunes, etc). Great selection of wine. I have found the Kirkland brand foods (their house brand) to be really good quality.

    Overall, as someone else said, we just LIKE it better.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    IL
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    12,505
    Originally posted by boisewinesnob
    I'm not 100% certain, but I've heard this from a few different ex-employees of Costco.....so FWIW, Costco pays their employees much better than Sam's does.
    I can see that could be true as Sam's is part of Walmart and they are not known to pay their employees (from what I hear). I can't stand Walmart, so maybe that is why I prefer Costco.

  7. #7
    We have memberships to both Costco and Sam's. And, we prefer Costco. I saw on tv once that after working at Costco for a couple of years (2-3, I think it was), one can make $40,000 or more. Plus, I know Costco closes for a lot of holidays (not sure if Sam's does).

    One thing I've personally noticed and why I like Costco better is that the employees are usually a lot friendlier at Costco than they are at Sam's (at least at the stores I've been to and I've been to a good number of both). I would venture to say that the employees at Costco are treated a bit better (benefits, pay, etc.). Just my guess, though.

    I think the merchandise is quite similar. I think they both have a lot of the same things. But, I think Costco seems a bit cleaner.

    My husband doesn't like Sam's too much mainly because they screw up our membership all of the time when it is renewed. My MIL actually pays for our membership (I guess she gets it through work) and whenever she pays for it, the payment is never reflected so they tell us our membership has lapsed. So, it is a pain to get it straightened out. And, this happens EVERY time it's renewed. Every single time. DH tells her not to renew our membership, but I think just forgets and just pays the amount when the renewal comes.

    Those are the reasons why I prefer Costco over Sam's. Sorry, but I don't know what BJ's is, so I can't compare.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Sun City Carolina Lakes
    Posts
    777
    We have all three close to us, and belong to all three!!! I find that each carries certain things I enjoy that the others don't. My favorite is Costco. I love their in store chicken pot pie for a fast meal and the fruit tarts you can sometimes find there. BJ's is where I go for in store Ciabetta bread and they carry a ready made stuffed cabbage that is low calorie and great tasting. They also carry Berkely & Jenson Cinnamon Twist, which are exactly like the Barry's twists, except they are $4.99 for 45 as opposed to $2.99 for 11! Sam's has honeydew and canteloupe melons at unbelievable prices and also carries fresh blueberries a longer season. As you can see, you need to determine what you like at each store. Unfortunately, this can take more than a "one day look"!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Waterford, MI
    Posts
    2,331
    We for a time had both a Sam's and Costco membership, however for the last 2 years we haven't renewed our Sam's.

    I really like Costco. Their selections tend to be more upscale to me and the employees are very helpful and friendly. Their Kirkland Signature brand is a great value and for the items we have tried have been excellent quality.

    Also, a bonus for us is that Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on both membership and merchandise. I know their computers are a bit different return policy (still very generous compared to other places), but other stuff they will return with a receipt no questions asked for the life of the product.

    We buy all our DVD's there because if there is a problem with it they will take it back and refund your money (or let you get a new one if it is still in stock). Most other places will not let you return items unless they are unopened.

    We tried a food item there once and I turned out to be allergic to it, it was a case, so we took it back, they were fine with that!!!

    We also bought a floor sample bunk bed (they were out and that was the last one) and it was missing some pieces (bolts, etc) and they told us to call the manufacturer, when we were having trouble getting anyone there to call us back, Costco offered to get their buyer to do the legwork and get our parts. Excellent customer service.

    If you do a lot of shopping or big ticket items, it is worth it to upgrade to the executive membership and get a 2% rebate on all purchases (excludes tobacco, alcohol and gas). We did that a few years ago and the rebate check more than pays for our membership.

    We buy a lot of stuff there including paper products, diapers, juice boxes, etc. We have also bought some big ticket items (at least one or more a year) like a playstructure, grill, bunk bed, shed, powerwasher, DVD players, VCR's, Phones, tires, etc. and that helps make our membership pay for itself.

    Lisa

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    5,563
    I like and have a membership to Costco.

    Sam's always seems slightly dirty, and their products don't really appeal to me as much. We can't get gas at Sam's.

    Costco treats their employees better, I've heard.

    I think we mainly maintain the membership so DH can sort of window shop. We really don't buy too much: Vitamins, spaghetti sauce, the occasional DVD.
    Grab the guns. I'll make pancakes. ~Sarah Conner

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Emeryville, CA
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    4,353
    I have memberships to both Costco and Sams - both have their benefits. I do enjoy shopping at costco more though as they tend to be more consumer friendly.

    As for BJs - we dont have one around here but I know one reason alone people shop there is they take regular Manufacturers coupons where as Costco and Sams do not (Costco does though have its own coupons it puts out though.) You can use Multiple coupons if the items can be resold at BJs so there can be some great deals.
    Joe

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  12. #12
    Originally posted by Lrimerman
    [B
    If you do a lot of shopping or big ticket items, it is worth it to upgrade to the executive membership and get a 2% rebate on all purchases (excludes tobacco, alcohol and gas). We did that a few years ago and the rebate check more than pays for our membership.

    Lisa [/B]
    I just found out recently that Costco's guarantees that your 2% refund will be greater than the executive mebership fee or they will refund you the difference. Seems like a "win win" situation to me.

    We have a new Walmart and Sam's Club opening here today. I will probably check it out when I get back just to see what the difference are.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Marietta, Ga
    Posts
    7,693
    I have Sam's and BJ's memberships. I am not planning to renew the Sam's Membership when it expires next month.

    I prefer BJ's because the store is closer, cleaner, better organized, and a better meat selection. I can get duck, buffalo, and ostrich at BJ's and I don't think Sam's knows what those are. The people in the store are also friendlier. The prices are about the same as Sam's. If I remember correctly the BJ's membership is $40 per year. My BJ's also has gas and takes coupons.

    We do have a Costco, but it's over near the mall and traffic is horrendous. I've never been, and don't want a memberhship because of the location/traffic. I don't think it's worth it to have more than one membership. I have two now because I signed up with a special deal through work and I didn't want to drop the Sam's membership if I didn't like BJ's.

    Leigh
    "Mommy, Can we Please, Please, Please have spinach for dinner?" DD2(age 6)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Long Island, NY
    Posts
    313
    I belong to both Costco and BJs. I have become friendly with many of the Costco employees (yes, I do shop there a bit too often ) and know them by name already (okay, they do wear name tags).
    I love Costco's produce section (always fresh and well-priced) and adore their baked goods. Oh, and their frozen spinach ravioli is my 6 year old DS's favorite food.

    I like BJs too since they carry items in smaller quantities. For example, their shredded part skim mozzerella comes in two individual 1-pound resealable bags (unlike Costco's 5-pound bag). I also like the bagged salad variety better at BJs. Additionally, the Costco near me has stopped selling skim milk, which BJs still carries.
    BJs also has a very large toy section, especially at holiday time. Also, BJs has better hours of operation. They open earlier and close later than Costco.
    However, I don't care for BJs produce prices. Most items can be found at supermarkets when on sale at much better prices than BJs charges. Definitely, Costco wins on that front.

    I agree with the others, check them both out and decide which has more of the products that you would buy on a regular basis. Or do what some of us other obsessed warehouse shoppers do - join both.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Aurora, CO
    Posts
    944
    I like Costco-but then again, I don't give Sam Walton's companies any of my $$. Most people I know let their Sam's expire and stay with or join Costco. As mentioned, their Kirkland brand is great. I am hooked on their Kirkland 'egg beaters'....much better than any brand names I have tried. We buy all our paper products there as well. A neighbor of mine used to work there and their Kirkland brand dog food is made by (I think this is right) Diamond. Whatever the brand name is that does the generic for Costco is supposed to be a premium dog food. AND, it is much cheaper...Sue

  16. #16
    We belong to all three (but only have to pay for one ourselves). I think each one brings something different to the table. BJ's has earlier hours for business owners, which is helpful, especially on Saturdays! BJ's also has greeting cards and magazines (10% off list) that the others don't. Costco is the most convenient to us, and we have the Executive Membership to get the 2% back at the end of the year (checks come next month I believe), which more than pays for the membership. Milk prices at all are great, and with a 2-year-old, we go through A LOT of milk! I think that each one has the same basic stuff, with slight deviations, and worse than that, I can ALWAYS find something to buy at any of them. The old "I just need x, y and z" usually gets me a cartful nonetheless.
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