A question I am frequently asked is “What do you think of warehouse shopping?” For me personally, it isn’t worth my time as it is not in close proximity to my house. However, for many it can mean great bargains. I caution people before you jump in and purchase a membership to take a few things into consideration:
How frequently will you shop there? If you don’t foresee several trips to your club store each year, then the cost of the membership could be the same as throwing money out the window. You will want to commit to making several trips in order to recoup the cost of the membership through savings.
Can you save more than the membership fee? If you don’t think you will save more than the the cost of the annual fee, then it is not worth shelling out that cash. Make sure you know that you can recoup your fees.
Isn’t bigger always better? Not always. Before you can shop in a warehouse, you want to make sure you know (or have a good idea) for what you pay for your items at your local store (after coupons and discounts). For example, if you see 2 – 20 oz bottles of Heinz Ketchup for only $3.49 ($1.74 each), that may seem like a good deal, considering you pay $1.89 at your grocery store. However, when you redeem your coupon at your store, you will pay just $1.39 for that 20 oz bottle – which is less expensive.
You also need to know your per unit cost for your paper products, detergents, etc. Just keep a price list with you when you shop, so that you know if you are truly getting a better bargain or just a bigger box.
Leave my coupons at home? It is true. The majority of warehouse stores will not accept your manufacturer’s coupon. So the price you see is the price you pay. No additional savings.
Can I try before I buy? Many times, warehouses will offer a one day pass for you to check out their store before you sign up for a membership. This can be a great way to check out those prices and do some comparison shopping so you know if you will quickly earn back your annual fee or if you will be tossing money away. Just make sure to take along your price book and take lots of notes. And make sure you ask about the fee if you do make a purchase. Sometimes you still can buy without the membership, you just pay an additional percentage above the purchase price as a non-member transaction fee.
I am certainly not saying that warehouse shopping can’t save you money as it can on some items. I am just reminding you that you will want to excercise due diligence before you sign on the dotted line. Doing a little research can save you much time and headache.