I'm A Believer!

by pittcaleb Email    3226 views

Yep, after about 18 months of testing the waters and making dabbles into the system, I am finally a full-fledged believer - in Wholesale Club Shopping!

I blogged recently about my foray into renewing my membership at BJ's, but finally, I believe in the business and plan to shop there more often. Let me explain...

In Michigan, we had a Sam's Club - we were never members, but I would go periodically with others and grab a few things. But in reality, I had little need for 15 lbs of sugar or Ketchup by the gallon, so it wasn't a big deal to me.

When we moved to New Jersey, with 2 boys who eat a little bit more with each passing day, and a Pantry the size of some Manhattan apartments, we decided to give the local BJ's a shot. I'd shop there every 2 or 3 months, but it wasn't a priority at all. People had always told us it has great bargins, but seriously, buying rice by the 25 lb bag just wasn't prudent. We don't that much pasta, but I recently gave in and bought a 10-pack of 1 lb pasta packages, figuring we'll use them eventually and they won't go bad sitting on the shelf.

What irks me about these "clubs" is their membership feature - where you pay for the privilege to shop there. That simple fact has always been a turn off for me. Our membership runs about $80 a year, but that's for an enhanced one where you get cash-back on your purchases. As I blogged recently, we got $70 back that way, so our membership costs were only $10 last year.

But the question remained after all this time - is it really worth it to shop there. People say it is, but for the products I buy, is it really worth it?

Well, last week, I hit BJ's and stocked up on some of the staples I traditionally buy there. The total for my 12 items came to $110. The question I had was what would this same stuff cost me at the local Pathmark, the cheapest of the local shopping alternatives.

Yesterday we made a Thanksgiving shopping trip and I brought with me my list from BJ's. What I found was astonishing! Matching identical products and compensating for larger quantities, the single trip we made to BJ's earlier in the week saved us $87! That's more than the enhanced membership cost without any refunds! Wow! I was blown away! As you can see by the table below, most of the items I bought were 40-50% cheaper buying in bulk!

I was expecting the prices to be better, but not "that much" if you know what I mean. I thought if the product was on sale at the regular store, it would fall in line with the regular price at BJ's. Not the case - the prices in the spreadsheet are normal prices, but some of the products were in fact on sale at Pathmark. I noted those as well, even on a couple the generic equivalent, because if you're trying to save money, you can buy generic rather than name brand. In all tested cases, the sale price and generic product comparison to the BJ's bulk name brand were still higher. I was astonished!

So while shopping yesterday for hot dogs and dishwasher detergent, believe my sample results to be indicative of most products, we bailed on buying them at the 'regular' store and I will make a run to BJ's. I had previously only gone there when I needed a bunch of things - but now I find it IS worth it to buy everything you can there. And technically, it's closer than the regular supermarket! Now if only I had a larger refrigerator...

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