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What TO Buy AND NOT Buy at Warehouse Clubs

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Big Box Store Buys

When shopping at big box stores, you can find some INCREDIBLE deals. There are also some things that seem like a good deal, but you might end up losing money on. Here is a list of things you’ll want to buy as well as items you should pass on when shopping at these stores.

18 Good Big Box Buys:


1. Paper Goods

Toilet paper, paper towels and other paper products are among the most competitive product lines sold in the warehouse clubs, and if you shop while they’re on sale, you’re bound to save big with minimal effort. These items have no shelf life, so you can store them forever. Short on storage space? Send a few to school with the kiddos as classroom donations!


Tires at Sam's

2. Tires

Costco and Sam’s Club both offer the same brand name tires as your local tire stores, but they offer big discounts, especially when you buy while they’re on sale! Bonus: You can shop while they’re being installed!


3. Dried Beans, Pasta, and Rice

With a great shelf life and a multitude of uses, dried beans, pasta, and rice are ideal for buying in bulk (just make sure to store them in a sealed container)!


4. Furniture

One of my favorite things about big box stores is their furniture. Yes, the selection is limited, but you’ll find some incredible deals on ReclinersMattressesand more.


Costco Fuel

5. Fuel

This is hands-down one of the best things to buy at your local warehouse store! Across the board, they generally have the lowest prices on fuel. This is always a great purchase when you’re there!


6. Vacation Packages

Costco offers deeply discounted vacation packages. Booking travel through a warehouse club can also bring perks on rental cars and stays at partner hotels.


Sam's Club Kid's Clothing

7. Kid’s Clothing

Costco and Sam’s Club have some amazing deals on name brand kid’s clothes, like Carter’s, which typically rival the store’s prices WITH coupons. Sam’s club also has a Carter’s 39-Piece Layette Sets that offers all of your basics for a bargain!


8. Fresh Premium Meats

Sam’s Club has a great selection of premium meat, poultry, and seafood, especially if you’re looking to buy large cuts of meat.


9. Premium Gourmet Cheese

Costco has an incredible collection of Premium Gourmet Cheeses, including some great variety bundles available online. They even list suggested wine pairings!


pizza

10. Lunch

One of my favorite things about Costco is their food court! You can get a large all-beef hot dog and a soda for $1.50! They also have other options, like hot turkey and provolone sandwiches, whole pizzas or by-the-slice, and a few treats, including frozen yogurt and churros! My kids look forward to going to Costco just for the lunch!


11. Charcoal

Charcoal is one of those things that you probably go through quicker than you realize, but even if you don’t, you can save it. Both Costco and Sam’s Club’s prices are considerably lower than your regular supermarket, making this a very smart bulk buy.


12. Alcohol

I don’t know about you, but I think wine is definitely something to buy in bulk. 😉 There are great deals to be found on beer, wine, and spirits at your local warehouse club stores.


Kirkland coffee

13. Coffee and Hot Cocoa

Costco has great deals on bulk coffee, including their Kirkland Whole Bean Coffee roasted by StarbucksSam’s Club offers great prices on coffee, including single serving cups and whole beans. Sam’s Club and Costco both have rocking deals on hot cocoa, especially towards winter time. Plus, consider storing your coffee in the freezer to keep it fresher longer.


14. Baking Supplies

As an avid baker, I can vouch for the quality of the baking supplies at Costco. I buy all my flour, sugar, butter, and even some of my baking pans and mixing bowls there. Sam’s Club also has some great baking supplies. Both stores offer incredible prices on bulk nuts as well.


15. Batteries

When you have kids, you tend to go through a ton of batteries. Costco has great deals on bulk packs of AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries, and their Kirkland brand batteries work just as well as the Duracell, in my opinion. If you’re in the market for a new car battery, check out Sam’s Club.


ninja_iq_blender_

16. Appliances

From refrigerators to vacuums and mixers to blenders, you’ll find great deals at both Costco and Sam’s Club on large and small appliances. While their prices are comparable to regular appliance stores, they tend to offer better, longer warranties, as well as bundle packs with accessories, making these a much better bargain. They don’t have quite the selection that a regular appliance store offers, but they do offer high quality products with the latest technology.


17. Gift Cards

These are always a great warehouse buy, because you can typically score great deals, like $100 in gift cards for $80. They have a decent selection of gift cards, too, including restaurants, spa packages, gym memberships, and tickets/season passes to local attractions.


18. Organics

Warehouse stores have REALLY upped their selection of organic products in the last couple of years thanks to higher demand, and they definitely have some unbeatable prices. Things like organic milk, eggs, and other dairy products are usually a much better price than your local stores. Organic produce is more readily available, and usually at a great price, but only buy it if you’re going to use or freeze it all before it goes bad!


Stop Sign

Skip buying these items…


Sam's Club Shopping Cart

 

Soda

This is something that can be purchased for cheaper at the grocery store or drugstore if you’re shopping smart. If you’re not interested in shopping around, their prices aren’t terrible, but if you’re a frequent soda drinker, better wait until they’re on sale at your supermarket.


Diapers

Same idea as the canned goods- if you’re shopping smart, you can generally find them cheaper at your local supermarket.


Cereal

Cereal has a shorter sale cycle than most foods, so you can typically find it on sale at your local supermarket for a better price than the big box stores. Pair with coupons for even bigger savings!


Personal Care Products

Again, you can typically find a much better deal on toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal care items, at your local supermarket if you’re shopping their sales and pairing with the frequent manufacturer coupons.


Books, DVDs, and Video Games

These items are typically cheaper on Amazon and other places, especially around Black Friday.


Some Office Supplies

Things like printer paper can usually be purchased for much cheaper, or even free (after rebate) from your local office supply store. This is another area where it pays to shop around if these are items you buy frequently.


Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.

Join The Discussion

Comments 60

  1. Kasi

    I agree with most of this except for don’t buy Sosa. Unless there is an amazing deal I can score, my Costco is much cheaper on soda.

    • Julie B.

      Thanks for this list. I do agree with sodas… I never pay more than $2.50 / 12 pack, and most of the time I pay $2. I stock up at those prices at supermarkets, and I can never get it cheaper than that at box stores. Same with cereal and the rest.

      • Kasi

        Yeah, except in my area, the ones that match deals are almost always wiped out before I can get there, lol.

      • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        That’s true for me, too, Julie, although I think it does vary by area. Don’t forget to grab a raincheck at your supermarket when they run out! 🙂

    • Kasi

      Soda*

  2. Lana

    In order to use your tire package at Sam’s you have to be a member. If you let your membership lapse your tire package is no longer usable. Also, we have had our tires put on so that they were rolling the wrong direction and it ruined the tires. Do yourself a favor and buy tires at Discount Tire for the same prices and expert tire care without having to keep your membership current.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh, darn! Thanks for sharing!

    • Monica Bass

      if you decide to purchase tires at sams or Costco you can purchase Road hazard at discount tire size your tires are covered if you’re sams membership expires.

  3. jackie

    Dog food at Costco – hands down best deal for a good grain free food!

    • Patty

      Yes we love the salmon and sweet potato for my allergic to everything lab.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yep, we buy our dog and cat food there, too! Can’t beat it! 🙂

  4. Jamie

    I disagree with pasta. Grocery stores always have at least one brand on sale $1/lb, I’ve found bulk stores to be about double the price!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That is definitely true sometimes, but the bulk packs of organic pasta are usually cheaper than my local supermarket. I do like to stock up when it’s on sale at the supermarket though!

  5. Heather C

    This post reminds me- if you haven’t seen the show “Superstore” on NBC Tgursday nights, it’s hallarious! (No affiliation)

    • Melinda Ann Gonzalez

      OMG I love that show! I worked at Wal-Mart for over 5 years, and that show is pretty spot on for a lot of what goes on there. I have watched every episode at least 3 times. My favorite is when the cashier goes into labor and has her baby in the store, and then apologizes because she’s gonna be late for her shift the next day. Ive seen some pretty similar situations!

      • Heather

        How about the most recent one where she stops by to show pictures of the baby and tries to ring herself up and ends up stuck on the register. Definitely was treated like I had to come back the day after having my baby and dealt with jerky customers like that. I feel like someone on the writing staff worked for target or walmart at one point… they get it spot on.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Sounds hysterical! I’ll have to check it out! I did work retail for a few years, and boy were there some days that definitely felt like a comedy! 😉

  6. websaver

    We save so much on car rentals each year with our Costco membership! We own compact cars but we like to rent minivans for our longer driving vacations, and we can always score a great deal through Costco. Even if we never stepped foot into the store all year, we still save our membership fee several times over just for the travel deals.

    But I do like to shop there too, and I agree with your list of what’s a great buy – especially if you can be flexible on brands and varieties!

    • Julie B.

      Totally agree with this. Saved a ton on my car rental for vacation this year through Costco.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Good to know! Haven’t used it yet myself, but I’ve heard rave reviews. Thanks!

  7. Laura

    I AGREE with the list but would add that generic medicine is a much better deal at Sam’s than any where else.

    • Erin

      Yes! Kirkland brand Prevacid is way cheaper than anywhere else!

  8. momo

    No Sam’s Club membership needed to make purchases at their liquor store;-)

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Duly noted, although that’s not an option here in Utah. 😉

      • Sharlyn Friends

        In Arizona ,our liquor laws allow to buy with no membership at all warehouse clubs. But TOTAL WINE and More still be
        ats them all on prices and choices. Just saying…

  9. Renee

    In our area, milk is always cheaper at Costco compared to grocery stores.

    • Gerta

      We live in Richmond VA and interestingly milk is less expensive at Aldis & Kroger. Costco is usually forty cents more a gallon.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I’ve heard both sides of this. I think it definitely depends on the area. Organic milk is a steal at Costco here, but regular milk seems to be on par with the local supermarkets. Interesting how that varies. 🙂

  10. Vanessa

    I have to disagree about the books. I’m an avid reader and Sams Club has far better prices than Amazon on new releases. You also don’t have to pay shipping on the books or spend $49 to get free shipping. You can just pop into your nearest store and get the book immediately.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh, interesting. I’ll have to look at new releases more closely. I have found Costco to have great prices on my kids’ favorite series, but it seems like overall Amazon (with Prime) typically has lower prices, in addition to a better selection. I’ll keep that in mind with new releases though! 🙂

  11. Sharon

    I’ve always had great success with Sam’s Club tires. Very good customer service, and I can go to any Sam’s in the country if I have a problem while on the road. They’ve always taken very good care of me!
    I can’t get paperbacks cheaper anywhere else. And I love their furniture! I have a futon that’s very heavy, quality wood construction, and everyone thinks it’s a regular sofa! And it was on mark-down because they were phasing them out.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I recently bought tires at Costco and was really impressed with their prices and service. I’m also a huge fan of their furniture! Very high quality! 🙂

  12. CJ

    I’m at the point where I’m not so sure the $48.00 w/sales tax (Sam’s Club in Rochester, NY) to belong is that great of a deal. I really wonder sometimes if I’m even saving that much yearly. I gas up there only when it’s convenient and shop like every other month. I think I do better with sales and coupons (Plenti Points, RR’s and EB’s).

    • Anna

      I’m thinking that too- our membership is about to expire .. I find so many great deals at aldi now

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I think that this definitely depends on your family’s needs. With five kids, it makes sense for me to shop there. For a smaller family, or an incredible couponer, it might not. Another option is to get on a membership with a friend and split the cost. 🙂

    • Pauline

      I tend to agree with you! I love their rotisserie chicken! It’s so much better than Walmart The only item I remember getting a great deal on was the Preen while it was on sale there.

  13. Cassandane

    I disagree on the Carters clothes deals at Costco. I can find much better prices at the full Carters stores with coupons/sales. Also, I’ve had to return most of the Carters items to Costco as they had uneven hems, feet sideways on sleepers, high rise/short legs in pants… They all felt lesser quality and likely the seconds or had been sewn incorrectly.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh, darn. I haven’t noticed that at all, but that’s really too bad. 🙁

    • Elissa

      I have bought tons of the Carter’s items and never had a problem. Costco is way cheaper (in our area) than the Carter’s outlet store.

  14. Sara

    Milk cheese and produce are super cheap at Sams. My Dove deodorant used to be like 4 for $9, but now they jumped up to $14!!!

  15. Laura

    I buy white vinegar (2 pk) at Sams. Cheaper than target.

    Organic grapes are cheap too.

  16. Christina M

    Goldfish in bulk for the kids! Best deal.

  17. Michele

    Luvs diapers have always been a better price at BJ’s than our local supermarket. But now I do the 20% off Amazon family.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes, Amazon Family really is a great deal!

  18. rachael

    Check their clearance areas too. We got a $1000.00 dining set for less than $300. We also got our furniture n bar stools in the clearance area for 75% off the original cost. One of the stools had a small scratch n they lowered the price even more. When I saw the table, I literally dove on it so no one else would buy it. My husband was laughing so hard he almost peed. That table was coming home with me.

    • Urvi

      Costco has clearance furniture??

      • Teri

        Sam’s has a clearance area and Costco will move the furniture to the back or side walls (at least that’s the area in the warehouse by me) when the furniture rotation is done. I’ve seen a couple amazing deals on furniture in back corners of the warehouse when there were only one or two of the items left.

  19. Carissa

    I get much better deals on toilet paper at my grocery store than I do at Sam’s, but I buy fruit (my kids go through it like crazy) onions, romaine, medicine, and my shampoo/conditioner. Sam’s runs sales, just like everywhere else and you can find some pretty great deals when they have those markdowns.

  20. Heather

    Here is my Sam’s Club referral link. If you use it to sign up a Sam’s Club account, me and you will get $10 each. It’s http://www.samsclub.com/r/uxndvcb Thanks in advance

  21. rachel

    Some of Costco’s special buy items just can’t be beat. For example, I recently bought four good-sized outdoor light fixtures for $26 a piece (after the instant coupon). This was right after an exhaustive search that was about to have me pay nearly $100 per fixture. Our membership paid for itself right then and there (as if it hadn’t already).

    Oh and I can’t forget the extra large, deluxe memory foam dog bed we bought last week. Similar beds are $100 plus at Foster & Smith etc. Well, Costco’s was $48 🙂

    I like to watch for the “instant coupons” to score the very best deals.

    We’ve only been members since May but we are huge fans. I can’t believe just how much of our purchases we buy there.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Good to know! I’m a huge Costco fan, too. It’s amazing what you can find there! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  22. Heather

    We recently purchased 2 pair of glasses for my son, a pair for me and contacts also for me at Costco. Each was much much less expensive than other places. We paid even less than the price at Walmart and Costco has better quality frames.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Good to know! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  23. katy

    Costco also have great deals all auto deals ! I highly recommend it! Smoothe and no haggling process. They are currently offering $700 cashback card too for executive members for purchase of a new gmc, buick, Chevy , or cadillac.you guys you check it out!

    • katy

      Oh I’m currently looking into getting a mortgage through one of costco’s partnerships too.I’min the process of buying a house and I find costco to have a competitive deal .they offer one of the lowest rate I can find plus only a $350 origination fee for executive members. I’mstill taking my sweet time to research more about mortgages and the house buying process.

      • kathryn egly

        We got our mortgage through costco and it worked out perfectly! My mom is a mortgage broker and was very impressed and said DO IT! (my mom wasn’t licensed in our state so she couldn’t do it for us)

        • katy

          I’m so glad to hear that. Yeah, costco is at the top of my list right now. The representative even told me the origination fee could be waived for me as an executive member. Other places I’ve quoted had origination fee anywhere from $600 to $1200 .

  24. kathryn egly

    Buy STAMPS! Costco is the only place I’ve ever seen that discounts stamps! You must buy a roll of 100 but this is a perfect purchase before sending out christmas cards!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s true! They’re the only ones that discount stamps! Thanks, Kathryn!

  25. takingachance

    Don’t forget:
    Do buy: cleaning supplies—bulk Pledge, Windex, disinfecting wipes, disinfectant etc, good deal often
    laundry supplies—Oxiclean clean, detergent, stain removers too

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