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Help Me Like Sam's Club

I am a big fan of Costco. I generally think it's superior to Sam's Club. However, I am planning on moving to a house which is about 5 minutes from a Sam's Club and 18 miles from the nearest Costco. As one can imagine, I don't expect to be going to Costco too often in the new house.

Help me to be happier about having Sam's Club as my only choice for a warehouse store. What are some things it's really strong in - perhaps even more so than Costco?


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  1. AAAHHH! Don't go to the dark side! Seriously, could you live with occasional stockups at Costco and continue to support a good company with a reputation of treating their customers and workers well?

    1 Reply
    1. re: coney with everything

      I second. Sam's club is operated by the same people as Walmart. Think thrice before entering their parking lot is all I can say.

      Seriously though, you don't just go into this kinda warehouse stores and get a box of cereal and come out, do you? I probably enter Costco maybe once a month, probably once every two months, so it's not like a weekly grocery shopping place for me anyway. Maybe you have a big family to feed... I dont know. Are there anything else to do around Costco to make the trip even more worthwhile?

      How about BJs?

    2. I have belonged to both, and there is no comparison. Costco is much better in my opinion.

      I drive 36 miles each way once a month to stock up at the closest Costco(thankfully I have a big suv capable of hauling the items home).

      1 Reply
      1. re: swsidejim

        Me too. I think Costco is better, if you have the choice.

      2. Sam's doesn't come close in any department. Drive the 18 miles. It's what I do. I have a Sam's about three miles from my house and they never have the same thing twice. They might have one brand of TP on one visit and another a month later.

        They do have a reasonably good meat and produce department, but I don't find that I'm saving the membership price on my purchases.

        1. Ughhhh don't waste your time with Sam's Club! My version of hell would be a never ending Sam's Club that I'm lost in. Their produce is the saddest thing I've ever seen. Make the extra trip and go to Costco!

          1 Reply
          1. re: reubensandperrier

            The main difference for me in Sam's verses Costco is the book selection. Other than that, I think Costco wins handsdown.

          2. I have a Sam's Club membership and others in my family have a Costco. They are both relatively close to us. I like to be able to go to either because the selection varies and I do get tired of the same thing. I think you can go to Sam's and check it out and see if they have things that you would want to purchase. Pretty sure they give a guest pass, to go in and may have a surcharge w/guest pass for purchases.

            1. We lived in a town for many years that had a Sam's Club but no Costco. We do prefer Costco now that we're in a town with it but no Sam's Club....but the reality was that we did just fine with Sam's Club for many basics and for a few specialty items over the years. They had a good selection of electronics and computer stuff, a lot of the same basic frozen items that Costco has (not the specialty stuff, but the basics...chicken, meatballs, etc). I think the suggestion of getting a guest pass and going and taking a look would make sense.

              Now, the other thing to consider is that Costco does, apparently, treat its employees quite well...so that might negate any considerations about what's actually in the stores.

              1. Costco's return policy is the best anywhere. Anything you bought there. Forever.

                Up until this past January even included electronics. Apparently too many people were bringing in very old computers and old television sets and it was coming close to having to choose to not carry those items anymore or changing the return policy on those items.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Cathy

                  Sam's Club also has a liberal return policy. I bought TurboTax there this year but could not get the program to update after HOURS of effort, Returned it to Sam's and got a refund with no questions asked.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    I prefer Costco to Sam’s, but Sam’s has a better return policy.

                    Costco will let you return electronics up to ninety days after purchase and anything else any time, but Sam’s lets you return computers up to six months after purchase, and anything else at any time.

                    1. re: thrackle

                      Costco used to let you return everything-including computers and televisions- forever. Until people started to abuse that policy. They still let you return other items forever.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        ok but sams has a better return policy now.

                  2. Yes, you can go check out Sam's Club with a visitor's pass. My experience is that Costco has higher quality on their Kirkland brands and carries higher-quality name brands. The Sam's near me has mediocre quality produce and bakery, but the meat, fish and dairy are fine. Because Sam's sells in smaller quantities, had the lines seem to move much better than the Costco, I prefer Sam's for most weekly or biweekly purchases like milk, or cheese.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mlgb

                      Sam's rules in our part of the country because the nearest Costco was a four hour drive, one way, when I checked last fall.
                      For bakers yeast, bread flour, some bulk spices, some cheeses, cat food, dog food, olive oils, rotiseerie chicken....it beats the heck out of conventional grocery store prices. And without Sam's, that's our only option.

                    2. In Jacksonville there is very little disenable difference between Sams Costco or BJ's. None seem to be consistant with what they have from one visit to the next. With todays fuel prices I say save the planet & visit the closest one.

                      1. Here in SoCal near me there are about a half dozen Costco's within a 30 minute drive but just one Sam's Club. I shop at both. I think Costco is generally a little cleaner, but product wise there's not much to differentiate them. To me, the one big advantage that Sam's Club has is that they sell single gallons of milk at reasonable prices while at Costco you need to buy 2 gallons. I think Sam's Club meats are about equal to Costco's and are better priced (Costco meat has gotten pricey, but it IS good quality).

                        Costco has better baked goods IMHO and a better selection of prpared foods if youy are into that. Also, the Kirlkland house-brand products are all very good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RSMBob

                          costco has single gallons... at least every one I've been to has. and it's 1.5 gals for organic.

                        2. I have the opposite situation here (2 miles to the nearest Costco and 3 Costcos within 10 miles of here, 15 miles to the nearest Sam's) and I maintain memberships to both Mostly I go to Sams for a number of items that Costco doesn't stock. Their frozen food selection tends to be better, and they have a different selection of food items as well. On some items, they're also cheaper than Costco (sometimes the difference can be significant, I've seen as much as $10 difference on a $75 item.) Here, the Sam's is also far less crowded, but YMMV on that one.

                          On the other hand, Costco is a nicer store overall, is much more convenient, and has much better hot dogs. In my experience, you'd be fine with either one though.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Vexorg

                            The Sams club here serves Best Kosher Dogs. The absolute best dogs out there IMO.
                            Costco has Sinai (sp?) Kosher. A fine dog, but not as spicy as the Best.
                            I recently joined Sams as my Costco membership expired. It's just down the street and Costco is in suburban traffic hell. The selection at Sams is a little better, but everything else favors Costco. Nicer, cleaner, better lit store. Smarter, friendlier, helpful employees.
                            If there is something I think of that Costco has and I need, I'll just be a memeber of both.
                            Right now, the Sadlers Smoked Briskets are worth the Sams membership alone.

                          2. All we have here is Sams,so I just put up with it. I have a friend who will drive an hour and a half to Charleston just to go to Costco. You are lucky to only have it 18 miles away!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chocchipcookie

                              da folks that do that around here (lot of 'em), also seem to pick up 10 50lb bags of flour per purchase... ;-)

                            2. It takes us over an hour to get to the Costco in Altamont Springs-about 30 miles from
                              our front door... I prefer it over Sams Club, which takes us roughly 40 minutes. I end up wandering the aisles at Sam's with a naked cart. The meat usually looks terrible, and they are heavy on the pre-cooked/packaged meats which we don't buy.

                              When I HAVE to, I will get our Tide, Cascade, Paper Towel-type stuff at Sam's.
                              Planter's Peanuts, EAS Shakes, and some spices. I've personally never had luck with the produce (mushy apples, rock hard avocados that never ripen, blah-nanas that were not spotty/ripe outside but inside were already bad) except the Romaine was ok,
                              the strawberries were from CA and were off season (I guess- this was early Sept), but each one was surprisingly sweet. I've also gotten cucumbers there that were fine. I'd rather get them from the farmers market which is about 20 min from my house...

                              I tend to stick to the name brands here- their generic "Members Mark" didn't impress me- the chicken tenders I brought home were HUGE. Is that wrong to not want big chicken tenders? I love how I can get the pre-shrink wrapped bl/sl Foster farms chix at Costco's - less food saver-ing to do when we get home! Also didn't think the Member's Mark paper towels were any good. We have a big box of the trash bags but once they are gone I'll get the Kirkland ones..
                              They are inconsistant with some snack things- I loved the Mr.Krispers Baked Salt & Pepper Rice chipy things- but the next time we went there they were gone. The same with Stacy's Pita Chips- sometimes they have them, usually not.

                              I can recommend (if your location has them) in the freezer section the 8 pack of Edamame- comes with small packs of sea salt. Very convenient
                              you can just nuke them for 3 min, salt and go. This sells for under $7.00 and it's about 4 pounds.
                              I also get the Aussie Bites which may or may not be very healthy but I am happy even eating just one.
                              You'll have to check it out before you commit. We have stumbled on close-outs at Sam's- the last of a pallet of stuff I guess- most recently Crystal Light Ice Tea for
                              $1.91. We would normally pay $7+ for the same size box. Check dates- these expire in 2008- husband thinks he'll go thru all 4 boxes before then....

                              1. I let my Sam's Club membership expire last January because of factors unrelated to their prices, but it had occured to me well before that time that there were relatively few items for which the price was exceptional. The two food items that come most readily to mind that I found to be well priced without having to buy in bulk were boneless leg of lamb and corned beef briskets.

                                It's just me and Mrs Fydeaux these days, so I dont much use for a five lb box of pancake mix any more. I like their produce well enough, but I cant buy just two or three green peppers there ( and I try to avoid having to cook for more than 6 people at a time these days). As for non-food items, electronics or appliances for example, if they carry the make and model of a TV that you happen to want, you'll do well, but I have become convinced that there are companies that make models that are ONLY available at Sam's, so comparison shopping is useless.

                                Additionally, the discounts that I got elsewhere by virtue of being a Sam's Club member were no better than those I get from being an AAA or AARP or ASCAP member.

                                So unless you have a LARGE family or frequently throw LARGE dinner parties, I dont think a Sam's Club membership is worth it. I've never been to Costco.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Fydeaux

                                  5 years later, I find that my feelings have not changed at all. Even the items I missed, the lamb & the brisket, I have been able to find at reasonable prices compared to what I used to pay at Sam's.

                                  There is a Costco, sort of in my area now, but it is not convenient, I still havent been, and dont really feel the need.

                                2. A couple of thoughts along the line of WHY ? Great Fresh Bakery items. Free sample snackies... hey, they're not bad either. Specially when ya get the munchies walking around. Various nuts in bulk are the way to go as well. Pretty darned decent pizzas too. Some interesting specialty items in the food area such as guacamole dip / salsa dip is worth scooooopin' into. I don't think Costco has a chance of matching any of these.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: 1olddog

                                    I have a card on my father's business account for Sam's. He is in JVille, FL where Sam's is prevalent. I drive past a Costco or two in LA to get to the one Sam's Club. But, I do not go there often. Maybe once every few months. And, then it is only to buy cleaning supplies/ocassional books & DVDs/ things that don't go bad after a month. I just don't think that Costco is THAT much better than Sam's Club to warrant my paying for a new membership.

                                    I will say, though that having gone to Sam's Club in JVille, it is much nicer than the one outside of LA. Better selection, too.

                                  2. I buy all of my paper products at Sam's, bags of whole nuts, sometimes wine, books. I would never buy any of their inferior meat/fish offerings after trying some years ago. God knows what grade beef they sell, but it's bad.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      The meat at my local sam's is comparable to the local costco. The ribeyes are very good and you can get decent marbling if you pick carefully. Can't beat'em at $6.97/lbs.

                                      My sam's has been going low-brow and dropping name-brand items I like to buy and replacing them with low quality alternatives for similar prices.... Dropped/replaced over the past year: purell hand cleaner, breyers ice cream, claussen pickles, tampa bay shrimp, smoked beef briskets and some others I can't recall. Costco is a lot further but worth the drive.

                                    2. It seems that both Sam's Club and Costco vary from store to store. For example, I don't have to buy two gallons of milk at the Costco where I shop. And on the way out, I always stop for a Hebrew National dog, not the Sinai or whatever, as was mentioned. I like the quality at the Costco here, but your experience may vary. The local Sam's Club has a deli department and the Costco does not. I think you really have to just compare the particular stores in your area.

                                      1. Sam's Club is just like shopping at Walmart except everything's in bulk pack.
                                        The ONLY advantage of getting sam's club card is for their gas station if it's your daily route. membership is cheaper than costco, but the quality just isn't there.
                                        you could try it out for few months and cancel for full refund on the membership (only $35 IIRC) if you don't like it.

                                        additionally...18miles is not far in JAX driving standards :) Costco is worth the drive.

                                        1. I have never lived within driving distance of a Costco. I saw something on television about how great they treat their employees, which made me want to shop at Costco.

                                          I do love Sam's. Shop there about once a month....frozen foods, butter, bread, chips, roasted chicken, vitamins, etc........ I like the prices and quality. I always check out Sam's when shopping for electronics.

                                          I also like the samples. Have discovered many items that we like....But I would not have bought a big box of "whatever" without tasting it first.

                                          1. I can't make you like Sam's, as we don't really have them around here (Queens, NY), we just have BJ's and Costco. I split a membership to each with different people, so I have the best of both. I live closer to BJ's, so I go there more frequently, but there are things I like better at Costco and go there sometimes as well, as it's in the midst of a shopping area I can generally find a reason to go to most any weekend. I live equidistant between two Costco locations. I would not be caught dead in one of them and the other is fabulous. I like Costco baked goods far more than those from BJ's, but somehow like the meat better at BJ's. And Costco seems to have a wider variety of pre-packaged foods.

                                            Certainly Sams is better than nothing. Maybe if you look at it that way, it won't be so terrible...

                                            1. We have to drive about 40 miles to either the Morelia, Mexico Costco or perhaps 44 to the Morelia Sam's Club.
                                              We retired to Mexico with several months remaining on our Sam's membership (from Little Rock, AR, where Wal-Mart rules supreme), so we went there at first, until the expiration, when we joined Costco.
                                              Here's the differences we found (keeping in mind that the Mexican version is somewhat different.)
                                              Sam's has a good line of professional restaurant and bakery pans and accessories, Costco does not. Costco has a much more extensive line of delicacies than Sam's, but only Sam's sometimes has Wright's Hickory Smoked Bacon. You can get mild Cheddar cheese at Sam's but you must go to Costco for Sharp Cheddar.
                                              Sam's has a more extensive selection of Lifetime folding tables and chairs; high quality, lightweight folding furniture. Costco recently got in one model, I think. My impression is that the home and restaurant furniture selection is more extensive at Sam's.
                                              The bottom line for us is that Costco, being located on the near edge of Morelia (and now with a Mega Comercial Mexicana hypermart next door) is more convenient for us in terms of access and parking. Sam's is on the other side of town, in a busy shopping district. It has some special things that we like, but we can live without for now. It probably isn't worth having memberships in both clubs.

                                              1. I have both. I primarily bought the Sam's membership because of cheaper gas prices when we travel. There are no Sam's here in Canada anymore.

                                                I go in whenever I stop for gas and in the 6 months I've had the membership I've bought 1 item. A Blueray disc. I'll be returning the membership. Costco is far superior.


                                                1. I've never been inside a Sam's Club and I would never join one. They are owned by Wal*Mart and that is the only thing I need to know.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                    I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree! We have all three (Costco, BJ's, and Sam's Club) very close by and I belong to both Costco and BJ's but never gave Sam's Club a thought due to issues with the ownership.

                                                  2. There is no Cost-Co near me in Indiana, so I've used Sam's Club. My relatives in WA have two nearby Cost-Cos, and my impression over the years is that Cost-Co beats Sam's Club hands down in food items, fresh, frozen or shelved.

                                                    Cost-Co has higher quality brands and caters more to semi-serious food tastes, whereas Sam's items are consistently a notch or two down, apparently from a concern for price-points and maybe from their perception of their target consumer.

                                                    That said, I think the two chains are comparable on things like detergents, small appliances, electronics, etc. But people on this site are into food, and Sam's Club is hit and miss there.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                      Why do you insist on misspelling Costco when everyone else here has spelled it correctly?

                                                      1. re: MisterBill2

                                                        At least he or she has taken the time to try to help the OP, which is more than I can say for your being upset over a hyphen being added to the otherwise properly spelled Costco ....

                                                    2. People drive 90 miles to visit my costco (they're from a different state. makes it easy to ID distances). why shouldn't you drive 18?

                                                      1. Sams has Milk Bone dog biscuts, much better than costco's, just ask my 4 dogs, and much better sandwich rolls, but overall I think costco is better.

                                                        1. sorry can't help you, we didn't renew our Sams but did renew, after Sams was to expire, our Costco, which I don't like either all that much.........

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                            Just bring me back the days of Gemco PLEASE

                                                          2. You've already figured it out. I'm a longtime Costco member but also belonged to Sam's for a year, just to try it out. My conclusion is that Costco is, indeed, better. Sam's has a bigger selection but a lot more lower-quality items. Costco has great buyers, and there aren't many disappointments when you shop at Costco. I found a lot of real crap at Sam's. I only find crap at Costco once or twice a year at most. Also, Costco treats its employees decently. Sam's is part of Wal-Mart, one of the world's biggest abusers of working people.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: emu48

                                                              I only go to Sam's for 2 things--Swaggerty's Breakfast Sausage and their cold cuts. If Costco carried those two things I would drop my Sam's membership in a heartbeat.

                                                            2. I live solo.. so it is probably unwise for me to pay for Sam's since purchasing any food item would mean eating it for a year... but I do buy paper towels, toilet paper, and sometimes the following:
                                                              --strawberries or grapes
                                                              --unsweetened cocoa powder
                                                              --kale, spinach, or iceberg lettuce

                                                              1. Sams has bone in Boston butts, Costco's are boneless. Sams has packer briskets with the flat and the point, Costco only sells flats. If you smoke meat, that's a big difference and the reason we've had both memberships. I recently joined Restaurant Depot and all my meat problems are solved and I can quit Sams. They're customer service has gone down hill dramatically in the last few years.

                                                                1. As a Former Sam's Club member, I'll list a few highlights vs my long time Costco membership:
                                                                  - occasionally better clothes selection (Levi, Russell Athletics)
                                                                  - single qty on some cookware
                                                                  - accepts MC and VISA credit cards (Costco is AMEX only)
                                                                  - higher prices for almost all merch
                                                                  - pimps overpriced, lower quality national brands like its parent Walmart (fewer store branded items)
                                                                  - not many stores in my area (could be critical for vacation ROAD HAZARD Tire repair)
                                                                  - only convenient store is older with fewer amenities (no gas, food court)

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                                                    I tried to use my VISA the other day and I was reminded by the cashier that Sam's Club only takes MasterCard and Discover.

                                                                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                      I used my Visa for months when I first joined Sam's Club -- mostly buying Rx meds, which, along with gasoline, was why I had joined. When I began buying other products, cashiers started telling me that Sam's didn't take Visa. I asked them to run the card for me, and found that yes, Visa worked in their grocery checkouts as well as at pharmacy & gas registers. My guess is that Sam's has negotiated a deal with MC & Discover and tries to discourage use of Visa, but they do take it.

                                                                      1. re: lyden

                                                                        I literally used my VISA in the reader at the cash register and it would not accept it, but now that I think of it, I have used it at the gas pumps.

                                                                        1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                          Yes, I only have VISA... so they make me pay with cash or check.

                                                                          1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                            Just used my Visa there on May 18 but it has to be a debit card not a Visa credit card.

                                                                          2. re: lyden

                                                                            Not sure where you are, but for a while they had a deal with Visa in some areas (I want to say in the south) and Mastercard in others. I think they've changed to MC only. Interesting that you can use your Visa.

                                                                            1. re: MisterBill2

                                                                              That'a a common problem with an easy solution. Get a MasterCard, a Visa card and an Amex or Discover card. A little online searching will find you cards with no annual fees. I have a low-interest MasterCard I use almost all the time. I have the other cards, even though they charge higher interest, for use when MasterCard is not accepted. As long as I pay them off promptly, the higher interest fee doesn't hurt. I make a point to use the other cards at least once every six months to keep my account in good standing. Any credit card is occasionally useless because of computer problems, etc., so it's a good idea to always have at least two cards with you.

                                                                              1. re: emu48

                                                                                Steak was good top choice ( Excel sterling silver) but now its bottom choice (National Beef Black Canyon) supermarket crap. Very sad. Will not be renewing.