We all have heard of a food club and most of us have belonged to one at some point in time. It allows the opportunity to buy in bulk at a discounted price with the pitch of a tremendous savings on your food bill each year.
After a recent trip to a Sam’s Club in Toledo, Ohio, I discovered that there are a lot of hidden prices in many of their products.
First off, the yearly fee was $40.00 and can be as much as $100 for a business account. I don’t really see a problem in paying that, although that fee has gone up over the past few years, mainly due to inflation.
I checked the prices in electronics and I was shocked to see they were actually more expensive than other department stores. I couldn’t even find anything that was similar in price to a competitor’s brand.
The video and movie department was very competitive with other store prices. I saw nothing that was a better deal than anywhere else.
What really blew me away was the food and grocery department. I visited on a Saturday afternoon and they were quite busy, but there were people with overwhelming pallets full of bulk food. Many were spending in upwards close to a thousand dollars or at the minimum, in the several hundred dollar range.
Ok if you buy more and pay a little more per item, does that really mean you save more? Or is it more of a convenience? If you have more, chances are you may eat more and not conserve your food as much.
I’m not saying buying in bulk is a total waste, it can be good and some items are worth buying in bulk, such as canned goods and some frozen foods. But really do you need ten bags of chips or eight canisters of planters nuts? Soap and shampoos may be alright to buy in bulk but if you know there is a whole case in the basement, you may be more likely to dabble more shampoo on your head than if you were down to your last bottle.
There may be ways to actually save money at Sam’s or other wholesale outlets. Buy a card and go in on it with someone else. No, you can’t both use the card at the same time, but you can accompany that person and use the same cart and “even up” with each other later.
Granted, the only thing that was lower priced than other items was the Sam’s brand itself, or as they call it “Members Mark.”
I did in fact take into consideration that many items were larger-sized and in bulk. But they do list the per item pricing and it was competitive, if not higher.
Sam’s Club even has their own gas station exclusive to members only. Their gas prices are just as competitive as the BP and Shell station down the road–no huge savings there.
I think most wholesale retailers would do better if they didn’t charge such a significant membership fee. I think it’s outrageous and unless you go there to shop every other week or so diligently, over time, you are not getting your money’s worth. People will buy their bulk items anyhow–why charge that fee? People feel special when they think they belong to something– hence, a club.
Gordon’s Food Service I feel is somewhat similar to Sam’s Club. They sell food and party supplies in bulk. There is no fee to shop at their store. Actually, I think their quality of food is better and their prices are definitely cheaper.
Next time you sign that application for a Sam’s Club membership, just keep in mind, am I really saving here or just giving Wal-Mart more money?