Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Costco versus BJ's

This post might be useful if you're trying to decide between the two.  

I've been a Costco member for the past 2 years.  In that time, a BJ's warehouse store opened about 5 minutes from my house (right across the street from Fairway).  Now, Costco is not that far away but it is two towns over.  It would be wonderful if I could do all my shopping closer to home, i.e. at Fairway and BJ's (but still driving 3 towns over to get to Trader Joe's every other week).  So when my Costco membership lapsed, I decided to give BJ's a try.  I signed up for the 60-day trial membership to see if I could make a go of it.  

Here are some of the things Costco has but BJ's doesn't:
  • organic brown rice
  • Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers
  • Flax Plus granola
  • old-fashioned rolled oats
  • organic peanut butter
  • organic (low-sugar) strawberry preserves
  • organic frozen corn and mixed vegetables
  • organic soy milk
  • Kirkland signature mesquite seasoning
  • organic dried thyme, oregano and basil
  • fish sticks (which are mostly fish and a very thin layer of breading)
  • Kirkland toilet paper (which is awesome, by the way)
Some thingss that BJ's has going for it:
  • the fruits and veggies are generally fresh (though not the last time I went) and many of the veggies are are sold in smaller quantities (Costco sells, I think, a 7# bag of organic carrots but BJ's carries a reasonable 3# bag)
  • I really liked the layout of BJ's.  The aisles are all clearly marked so you don't have to walk down every aisle to find something.  Costco recently changed the whole store around and you couldn't find anything or anyone to ask--it was quite frustrating.  
  • BJ's has self-checkout lanes which is great for getting in and out quickly. 
  • My kids love the fact that they have those car shopping carts (which drive me insane with their inability to be maneuvered)
The first couple of weeks of the BJs trial membership, I thought I might try to have a membership at both places but I didn't think I could re-coup my membership fee.  Or maybe I could make BJ's work by plugging the holes with Trader Joe's.  I think  I decided against that particular option because:
  • while Trader Joe's carries the Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers, they are smaller than the Costco ones and cost more per burger
  • Trader Joe's fish sticks are smaller and cost almost two times as much as the ones carried at Costco.  
  • Flax Plus is far more expensive at Trader Joe's than Costco
I'm disappointed in my local Costco because they stopped carrying organic quinoa and organic sugar.  I know I really should write a letter and maybe these two items will come back.  Despite my disappointment, it makes more sense to continue as a Costco member.  The fruits are not the worst (I stay away from their bananas though) and they have a nice organic spinach they carry.  Also, I mainly buy fruits and veggies at Fairway and Trader Joe's (only sometimes though because their produce is iffy although I can rely on their celery and lettuce being fresh) since I can get organics there (especially the Dirty Dozen.

I wish BJ's had worked out.  It would have been super-convenient.  I'm going to focus on only having to go far every other week (Trader Joe's and Costco one week and Fairway only the other week).  I don't want to drag the kids to three stores at every shopping excursion.  So I have to be smart about what and how much I buy. 

Do you have a wholesale club membership?  Has it worked out for you? 


Dee said...

Thanks for this! We have a Costco membership though I don't use it very often b/c 1)Costco is in the next town over and it's just not convenient for me to go there and 2)I always spend a lot more than I mean to whenever I go. Nevertheless, I still consider it worth it b/c of the bulk toiletries I buy there. Oh, I've also found that Costco is not necessarily the most cost efficient option. I buy my grains in bulk from a local health food store which is much cheaper...and I prefer to be able to decide how much to buy at a time.

The Original Wombman said...

Yes, next time I go grocery shopping, I need to bring my calculator so I can check about the grains. I can buy organic rolled oats for 99 cents a pound at the HFS. Organic rice I think is closer to $2 a pound there. I need to break down how much rice and oats cost at Costco per pound.

Serenity Love Sincere Peace Earth said...

I had a Sam's club membership in my 1st marriage that I blindly carried until 2009. There has never been more than 2 people in my family so I really only used it for big things, like furniture, glasses, entertaining and cigarettes. Once I stopped smoking, I never had a reason to go in there. So I let the membership lapse. I do miss their gas though. I actally borrowed my friends card a few weeks ago to purchase some beverages for a cookout. That was the 1st time I had been in there since 2008.

The Original Wombman said...

Serenity, yeah, I keep wondering if I should give the membership altogether. I would if I had someone reliable from whom I could borrow the card from time to time. I used to be able to borrow it from someone but one too many times, I got to the checkout only to find out the card was expired! I'd have to pay the membership fee to get my items or leave the items there.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely write a letter about organic sugar, they will bring it back if enough members say something. Costco carries it in other locations, just not yours....

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