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May 17, 2013 10:36 AM

NoVA -- best Warehouse Club for food? Sam's-- Costco-- BJ's-- Any OTHERS?

Concerns about local pricing and product availability have caused me to put this here on the DC board as opposed to Chains.

It's time to renew my Sam's card, and of course that has made me think about the value I've gotten over the year. I CAN say that I've made back my membership cost on gas savings, but I have been only "whelmed" by the food choices and savings.
Now that I go to Aldi for [cheaper] boxed Spring Mix [and there's a cash discount gas station nearby], I'm not sure Sam's is worth it at all.

So -- advice about which club to investigate?

I have a "free weekend" coupon for BJ's, so I definitely will look at that one.

Oh-- I'm in Woodbridge, so all 3 are equidistant/equi-hassle to go to, but for a reallllly good store I'd do a monthly trek over to the Rockville environs.

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  1. I'm a Costco shopper. In fact, I'm leaving my office in about 10 minutes to go to the Newington Costco.

    I do not think Costco always offer the cheapest deal but overall the prices are good and I like their Kirkland products, dog food, meat, and tons of other stuff. While I am price-motivated to a certain extent, I'm not willing to drive all over Hell's Half Acre (NoVA on the weekend) to find the absolute cheapest sale price. Costco gives good overall value.

    It may not matter to you but I personally appreciate the fact that they are a good employer, offer health insurance, etc.:

    1. Costco, hands down. Good food, amazing return policy and the Newington location has very nice staff. There's another Costco being built in Richmond Hwy, but I'm not sure if I'll switch over to it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        I shop at the Belvoir commissary, but when the Costco on Rt. 1 opens, I'm pretty sure I'll join (I've gone w/ a friend on a couple of trips to Costco), even though I don't have a large household to shop for. It's good to have a selection- I go to Bestway & Aldi for certain things & there's a G-Mart opening up down the road, where the Bottom Dollar used to be.

        1. re: thistle5

          Yeah - no more Commissary access for us after the ex retired from the Military.

          I worked around the corner from an H Mart last year and there's Global Foods in Woodbridge; those cover my exoctic and Asian needs inexpensively.

          Where's the Costco on Rt1?
          I thought there was a Sam's being built near the WalMart [Mt Vernon stretch].

          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            That's supposed to be a Costco, the big treat will be the Wegman's on Telegraph, when it finally arrives....

            1. re: thistle5

              That Weggies seems like it will never get built! It's been forever.

              1. re: thistle5

                The problem with that location is that it's right nextdoor to Walmart. The Route 1 intersection with Sherwood Hall Lane is a nightmare on a good day. And the only way they're dealing with traffic is to install a bike rack (?!?!).

              2. re: Kris in Beijing

                I far prefer Costco to Belvoir but retired military have commissary privileges. Have you checked into it?

          2. BJs is *at least* $1 more expensive per item than Costco. (I believe Sam's is generally a few cents less per item.)

            Costco has an open-ended return policy on everything but computers, cameras, and TVs, so if something breaks or is unsatisfactory, you can just take it back.

            The quality of merchandise is much better at Costco than at BJs (Costco is probably comparable to Sam's but I haven't shopped there much since I left DC a decade ago.)

            BJs has much wider grocery options as well as smaller sizes. If you're primarily buying food, BJs is worth considering, but overall Costco will save you a lot more money if you shop more widely.

            I find I need to go to BJs occasionally for food, and I go with a friend or use a one-day pass and pay 15% extra.

            1. We have both Costco and BJ (in Fairfax). We started just with Costco and like everything they have. The Kirtland house brand is excellent in quality and price for most everything we've bought.

              We started going to BJ as it's the only club in this area with a gas station. But then started buying more groceries from them. Between BJ, Wegmans, and the Asian markets (Lotte Plaza, Super H, Great Wall) and Costco, we do all of our grocery shopping there. BJs is good that they have 'normal' size items and I don't have to buy a large amount that I don't need as in Costco. I also like their milk and eggs much better than at Costco (ever since Costco went to the current rectangular milk containers that I dislike).

              1 Reply
              1. re: dpan

                I actually like Coscto's organic 1% milk. Great offering for those looking for organic and low fat. I guess the container is a personal preference.
                I really should check out our nearby BJ's for giggles. Having "normal" sizes would work better for some items, given our household size.

              2. I dropped my Costco membership for the reasons you've cited. I couldn't justify the hassle of dealing with the lines and parking and showing up with all the cashiers open, but by the time I was ready to check out, half of them were closed. Woodbridge isn't too far from Wegmans; I manage to make a trip once a month. For produce/seafood, I make do with Asian grocers like Super H and Grand Mart and even some of the Latino bodegas have decent selections of fresh vegetables, meat, and fish. I tried the free Sam's Club offer and wasn't impressed.

                6 Replies
                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Sounds like you went on a weekend. Weekdays are much more civilized.

                  1. re: KWagle

                    This was at the Pentagon City Costco during the week after work. It was fine if I got there on the weekend immediately after they opened.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      The only time i'll go is during the day. Samples aren't as good but I can deal.;-)

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        Ah, that place is a zoo. I think that Costco is actually open later than the rest of the chain to deal with the crowds.

                    2. re: monkeyrotica

                      I live closer to the Fairfax area locations (Costco, Super HMart, Lottem and Wegmans), and I find all to be super busy on the weekends. If I need to shop there on the weekends, I go right before 11am or around dinner time. Costco and the Korean supermarkets do great samples, but it's just way too crowded.

                      1. re: Unraveled

                        I've often wondered why retail businesses are open during the hours when most people are working, and close during the hours when most people are free to shop. I guess this is probably a holdover from the time when men worked and women kept house and did the shopping.