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Sam's vs Costco

I have been a member of Sam's for a long time but my new town has a Costco too.Which one is better? Or should I do both?

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  1. Costco is NOT cheaper, they have great produce and nice meat, but they do not have a great selection of food, and you cannot depend on consistency with what they stock. I am also a Sam's club member but it is not as convenient as Costco for me. For an example. The pedestrian boneless skinless chicken breast, $2.89 per lb at Costco,
    1.99 a pound at my local market. I would stick with Sams if price is your main concern.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jillcooks

      Curious, you didn't mention the price of chicken breast at Sam's. I sure the $1.99 is a sale price at your local market..

      1. re: cstr

        Yeah, the normal going price of boneless skinless chicken breasts here in the Midwest is $4.99/pound. Again, I can't tell where Jillcooks lives, but that's one heck of a price for one of the most highly processed poultry cuts.

      2. re: jillcooks

        Looking at the Safeway website depending on the packaging etc, it ranges from around $3 to $6 a pound.

      3. I'd choose Costco, no matter where you go there's going to be one around. Costco is mostly less expensive than Sam's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cstr

          Actually not so in the South I haved in many different places from the mid south to the coast and this is my first time in close proximity to a costco (less than two hours) ,in this two they are less than a mile apart...lol!

        2. I'd go with Costco, because they have a MUCH better record on how they treat their employees as well as an effort toward responsible buying practices. Sam's Club and Walmart are abysmal on both these counts. You might want to ask Costco for a one day pass in order to see if their product mix suits your needs. Here, the Costco is a significant savings over grocery store prices, unless you happen to hit double coupons when an item is on sale. For instance, I can get ten pounds of cane sugar for about 44 cents a pound, but most groceries here sell it at between 59-69 cents per pound. I do think their product mix and prices vary by region, from having shopped in CA and KS. I can't tell from Jillcook's profile where she lives, but her experience and mine on prices at Costco do not jive.

          2 Replies
          1. re: amyzan

            That last word should be "jibe," too late to edit. Sorry.

            1. re: amyzan

              ITA, amyzan. I don't give my money to Walmart. Cheap can't be the only reason to buy something--it's part of why our economy is in such a hellhole.

              Also, Costco tends to skew a little higher-end in their merchandise mix. I'd rather have something good than something meh that's cheaper.

            2. I was more interested in the selection than price. I am curious if they have more interesting stuff overall.

              1. Costco, without a moments hesitation

                1 Reply
                1. re: steakman55

                  Costco has some interesting items. I bought fancy truffle cookies as xmas gifts this year and everyone raved. They also have Cabot cheeses- much cheaper and many more varieties than my regular supermarkets. Their bakery items are great.. my husband loves their rugaleh and muffins. Only drawback is that you're buying 12 huge muffins..so I split with a friend.

                  Costco doesn't really have any 'interesting' fruits and veggies, but their produce is always reliable. The 6 pack of romaine hearts is really cheap- $2.99 IIRC. They also have gigantic containers of berries, which have always been sweet. Their lemons are pretty well prices and come 10 or 12 per bag. Potatoes and onions aren't super cheap but I'll pick them up if I'm there and I need them.

                  Not so CH-ish, but I love the Arnold Sandwich Thins. They're like a thin sliced bun and they come in a bunch of varieties. In Costco they're half the price of any supermarket. Also, they have a bunch of brands of 40-calorie sliced breads.

                2. I used to work for a trucking company who hauled for Costco, the company also had a store where they sold the products that where rejected and had claims against my company that helped pay the insurance claims, I cant tell you of the meats and fish that Costco rejected, to me there was just nothing wrong with what they turned down,we the publix should be very proud to have a company that is that particular looking out for us this way.
                  I now live in a place that has no Costco,have only Sam's club, which in no way can compare to Costco, I go only to get my essentials,but I do go once or twice a year to Costco in Kansas and St Louis both are over two hundred miles away from where I live. to me this is a real treat and I load up both my coolers,I went into a depression(almost when I couldn't get there for Christmas)they have such goodies for the holidays, Sam's had garbage.
                  Have a trip to look forward to soon.(thank heavens)

                  1. Folks, please remember that Chowhound is about food. While we sympathize with the desire to discuss issues like hiring practices and supplier relations, those really aren't appropriate topics for a breezy board like ours.

                    Please keep comparisons of Sams and Costco related to the food available at both.

                    1. We have more Sam's here than Costco's and we belong to Sam's. One of the things I really like about Sam's is that I can go on line and actually make my list because they have most all of the frozen, dried, canned, spices, lunchmeats, health & beauty products, and a lot more on the website and actually let you know if it is low stock or out of stock at your location. Of course they don't list all the cheeses, or meat they have but I'll bet that 70% is on the website. When I looked at Costco, all it showed me was a couple items and that was it.

                      I really like the cheeses at Sam's and always get smoked gouda, havarti with dill, and baby swiss. Another favorite is a big bag of Tyson tequila lime wings for a fraction of the cost I can buy in the grocery store. Last time I went I got a bag of 5 very large avocados for $4.88, and they were so buttery, and delicious. I did have to put them in a paper bag, one at a time, to ripen just for a few hours but they were far better than I can get in the store. The celery hearts are super cheap and fresh, as is most of their produce. I guess I could check out costco, but I used to belong to them and was never that thrilled. They seemed more expensive for the things I buy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: danhole

                        Although I much prefer Costco for various reasons and don't have a membership to Sam's, that kind of online stock checking is always extremely appealing. I suppose I should write to Costco and see what their line is on it. It's true that various items (both food and otherwise) are often changed in Costco, with previous items sometimes never to be seen again (or not to be seen again until the same time next year). But they could still have the inventory online if they wanted to. Of course they'd also love you to come into the store and browse all the changing stuff, but I think people would do that even if the stock were listed online.

                        1. re: CrazyOne

                          I really don't mind wandering around and browsing, but this particular trip I had been very ill for a long time and knew I didn't have the stamina for a lot of walking, so it made it very handy to figure out what I really needed, organize my list by the section of the store and keep the browsing to a minimum. As it was I still had to take a break and sit on some patio furniture to rest a bit, but I cut the visit by at least an hour by being able to shop online, so to say. They even have a "pick and pull" feature where you can let them know what you want and they will gather it for you to pick up when you get there. Not available on all items but most.

                      2. I had a Sam's membership, and got a free membership to Costco through my job. Tried it one day - the day I would normally have gone to Sam's - and never went back to Sam's. Costco has better quality stuff, at about the same prices. In particular, MUCH better produce and fresh fruit.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Bat Guano

                          We got some good nectarines there today. Yeah, they came all the way from Chile, but they are juicy and sweet, such a pleasure in Kansas in February. Most of the Chilean fruit in groceries this time of year never really ripens. I also noticed they now have santa sweets, the little grape tomatoes that are so good.

                          1. re: amyzan

                            Yeah, I'm a regular consumer of those grape tomatoes. And just you wait until the domestic nectarines are availabe in the summer - the ones I got last year were fantastic. In fact I froze some and just last week made cobbler out of them - delicious.

                        2. Costco. Love their meat and most everything else (incl Calif king sheets for 64.00 and oh, so soft). Refuse to do business with Wally World or Sams.

                          1. Costco for me and I wouldn't do both. It's kinda over kill. I doubt if you'd save enough money between the two to make two memberships worthwhile.


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Davwud

                              I was a Sam's member for several years and decided to switch to Costco in December when my Sam's membership expired. I am very happy with the switch. The rotisserie chickens and chicken salad are particularly tasty. Overall, I like the food/other merchandise better at Costco - it seems to be a little higher quality. Last, but certainly not least, at our Costco they have self-checkout lines that move wonderfully fast. Not sure if this is the case at all Costcos but it makes the end of my shopping experience about a million times better than it ever was at Sam's.

                              1. re: MaryDC

                                I'm pretty familiar with about 5 Costco's and none of them have self checkout.


                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Sorry to hear that...maybe they are phasing them in. It is a huge selling point and we are really enjoying it...

                                  1. re: MaryDC

                                    I can imagine.

                                    We only just got a gas bar in one that's near here. Too far to go for gas but I'm hoping one of my two regular places gets one soon.


                            2. Costco is clearly superior to the typical chain supermarket: much better prices, and the quality of house brand Kirkland items can be surprisingly high. I've tried their deli meats--ham and turkey of course, and both were pretty tasty.

                              They're a notch or two below Whole Foods, and a notch or two above typical chains such as ralphs or safeway's. Admittedly, the "trick" to their tasty deli meats is salt. A lot of it. That's the trick they use for their rotisserie chicken as well.

                              Their organic tomato paste and organic corn chips are very good also. Not excellent, but very good. Their organic corn chips are nearly as addictive as trader joe's: close but not quite. Oh, their organic salsa is addictive as well.

                              1. kirkland deli turkey (very salty)
                              2. kirkland deli ham (very salty +)
                              3. rotisserie chicken (again, a little too salty)

                              Keep in mind, I like salty meat: corned beef, beef with soy sauce, etc., but costco is just a bit over the top.

                              4. organic tomato paste
                              5. organic corn chips
                              6. organic salsa

                              7. Their conventionally grown bananas can also be quite tasty at times, although if you buy them when green, they may never ripen.

                              8. If you are ever hungry and close to a costco, especially around 5-ish or on the weekends, you can sample enough to nearly match an American sized meal. One recent mission yielded:

                              -honey glazed barbecue chicken wing
                              -sloppy joe
                              -two varieties of cheese
                              -chinese chicken salad
                              -fruit drink
                              -other stuff I can't remember (chips, candy, and so on)

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: NewDude

                                  I really try to avoid Costco on the weekend, because of the sampling. The store I go to is crowded and people let their kids run from sample to sample without supervision.

                                  I go on weeknights.

                                2. I avoid anything having to do with the Evil Empire, therefore I go to Costco. Even though it's just my husband and me we still save money, although I don't buy that much produce there because it goes bad before I can use it all. Their meats are great. My local Costco is older so we don't have the bakery and deli, but I keep hearing they're going to build a new one.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MandalayVA

                                    Also Cosco hands down. The quality and selection is far superior, I think. The products are of better quality, better brands. Sam's is very much like shopping at Walmart vs a more upscale store, just my opinion. I belonged to Sam's for many years, moved over to Costco about 4 years ago, and never looked back! I went into one a few months ago to pick up a prescription for my mother and it just looked dank and less clean. I noticed the brands they had were more of the lower end.....maybe that's just the one here..But I don't shop at Walmart either.

                                  2. After several years with memberships at both Sam's and Costco, I gave up my Sam's Club membership last year and have just been using Costco.

                                    It's mid July now and I still haven't seen any good peaches or nectarines at Costco, just the hard, typically tasteless kind. I decided to swing by Sam's today -- aha, so that's where the good ones are being hidden!

                                    Also noticed that the Costco parking lot was already packed at 10:25am (25 minutes after opening), with long lines at the checkout registers, yet the number of shoppers at Sam's was light and the lines at the registers there were thin.

                                    Costco here does have vastly superior offerings in the meat department, but not necessarily in all the other areas.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: racer x

                                      Hands down the Baked goods, baked in house at Costco (Costco Cakes, cookies, bagels) are 100Xs better then the dry as dust dreck that Sam's Club puts out.

                                      There is no comparison.

                                      1. re: usmc5855

                                        I don't usually buy any baked goods at either place nowdays (I used to be a fan of some fantastic bite-sized iced lemon-flavored cakes, I think at Sam's but don't recall, that they stopped carrying unfortunately). The quantities are too large and the tastes don't justify the calories.

                                        However, I did get a pretty good coconut-and-lime (I think) layer cake from Sam's last year. Very moist.

                                      2. re: racer x

                                        At least in my experience here in Las Vegas, good stone fruit at either place is a fluke -- every once in a while we'll get some ripe peaches or nectarines rather than the usual underripe rocks.

                                        Apart from that, I generally give the nod to Costco, although there are a couple of things I can only get at Sam's, such as 4-year Black Diamond cheddar.

                                        1. re: Steve Green

                                          Interseting, I've had excellent stone fruit from Costco. Not only is the fruit size larger, better quality and less per pound than the super markets, the peaches at Costco are from CA, they're ripe and sweet.

                                          1. re: Steve Green

                                            I gave in last week when I found that the peaches and nectarines on display at Costco were still subpar -- I renewed my Sams' Club membership. Got some amazingly good nectarines at Sam's! The peaches, though, looked and smelled good and felt ripe, but turned out to be mealy. I hate those.

                                            But in addition to the wonderful nectarines, also got some Golden Dewlicious honeydews from Sam's, which were the best fresh fruits find I've made anywhere in a while.

                                        2. I still keep both memberships for convenience and a few products that I prefer or cannot find at Costco. I like deli ham and salami better at SAMs. They have V8 in individual bottles and I like select a size paper towels which SAMs has their own brand....much cheaper than Bounty.

                                          1. Costco for sure. They always seem cleaner than Sam's, they have a better selection of meat, fish, and produce, their samples are generous (The ladies at Sam's club act like they're paying for every sample, half a bagle bite anyone? lol) Costco is also VERY lenient with their returns. My parents returned a 14 month old Navigation that quit working with absolutely no hassle, I returned kitchen cabinet knobs that I bought TWO years prior on clearance, unopened with receipt, and even after two years they still took them back.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Rick

                                              I once returned a DVD burner that I burned out without a receipt 9 months after I bought it. No packaging, nothing.