Shopping Secrets of the Warehouse Stores
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Shopping Secrets of the Warehouse Stores

Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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Warehouse stores can be overwhelming to shop. The aisles seem to go on forever and giant bargain stickers jump out around every corner. However, if you know the secrets to shopping at warehouse stores you can definitely save money and lower your total at the checkout. So, I have compiled a list of warehouse store shopping secrets you will want to know!

Let the Price Sticker Speak to You

Did you know that an item’s price sticker can actually tell you a lot about the nature of the sale? Warehouse stores use a code system to indicate product markdowns. At Sam’s Club, if the item’s price sticker has a “C” or ends with a penny, then the item has already been marked down. Similarly, at Coscto an asterisk or price ending in .97 cents indicates a markdown.

Once Again, Look for Store Brands

I just can’t say it enough – store brands are such a great way to save money! Warehouse stores have their own store brands too. Sam’s Club has Member’s Mark, Costco has Kirkland Signature, and BJ’s Wholesale has their own Berkely and Jensen brand.

Set Yourself up for Shopping Success

Warehouse stores love to give you samples of their products. Although samples are fun, it is best to go warehouse shopping on a full stomach. I know that whenever I go on an empty stomach, I end up adding a few samples to my cart!

Speaking of carts, go without one whenever possible. If you are just running in for a few items, grab a box or a friend to help you carry just those items. Once you have a cart, it is all too easy to start filling it.

Also, in regards to electronics: shop around before assuming the best price is at the warehouse store. Sometimes you can find better deals on electronics from electronics stores who make more money on selling warranties (and thus can offer lower prices on the actual products).

Find a Buddy and Save Together

Warehouse stores charge annual membership fees, yes. Costco has membership fees ranging from $50 to $100, Sam’s Club has memberships from $35-$100 and BJ’s Wholesale has memberships from $50-$90.  But you can share a membership and save half the cost of the membership fee while still taking advantage of warehouse bargains. Better yet, take your membership buddy shopping with you and split the jumbo sized warehouse items. This works great for cutting costs, and even better if you don’t have room to store a pallet of toilet paper!

You Don’t Always Need a Membership to Save …

… On alcohol. Some state jurisdictions prohibit the discounting of alcohol for promotional reasons, which means that both members and non-members of warehouse stores can purchase alcohol (including beer, wine and liqueur) at the same price. States under this jurisdiction include Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. I know my local Costco has a wonderful wine selection at great prices!

… On online purchases. There is no membership required to purchase online through Costco. However, be aware that there is a 5% surcharge added to non-member purchases. Other warehouse stores will allow non-members to shop in their stores, but they will also charge a 5-15% surcharge. If you decide to purchase a membership at BJ’s Wholesale, they will apply the surcharge to your membership purchase.

… On prescriptions. Federal law prohibits the sale of prescription drugs to members only. So, even if you are a non-member you can have prescriptions filled at warehouse stores.

… When using a Costco Cash Card. Costco Cash Cards can only be purchased by members, but can be used by non-members. Essentially, Costco Cash Cards are store credit. Although a non-member can not purchase or reload them, they can make store purchases with them. Also, a non-member can spend more than the Costco Cash Card’s balance while they are shopping as long as they do not write a check for the remaining balance.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Warehouse stores, including Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale, aim for a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. This means that if at any point you are unsatisfied with your warehouse store membership (perhaps you find you aren’t saving enough money), they will refund the entire cost of membership – right up to the day it expires.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.