Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adventures in big box stores

BJ's sent out an advertisement that offered a free 60-day membership, so I signed up. I figured we could go once, stock up on those non-perishable items we always need, and then wait for the next free membership offer to roll around and stock up again. I've been to those stores before, and never found them enticing or attractive. I did believe they had better prices, but I never had a reason or storage enough to buy anything in bulk. But I was willing to give it a try, with some planning.

First, I made a list of things we could safely stock up on: paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, shampoo, bath soap, sandwich bags, trash bags, coffee, macaroni & cheese, pasta, cereal, fruit cups, diet coke, etc. Then I went to Stop & Shop, where we usually buy those items, and wrote down how much they cost. (I used the unit prices, like paper towels were 96 cents for 100 sheets.)

So when we went to BJ's (our big night out), I had my price list handy. We found each item and compared prices. We bought the things that cost less at BJ's than at Stop & Shop.

Since we didn't know where anything was, we ended up touring the whole store. You'd think this would mean we bought all sorts of things we didn't intend to buy. But the things they had were very unattractive. Like Bruce was looking for a new shirt, but he didn't like the ones they had enough to pay the $9 for them. He also looked at the golf bags, but he didn't like them enough to buy one. They had chips, but we like the chips from Trader Joe's.

We also didn't buy much of what we intended to buy. Most of the items actually cost less at Stop & Shop. Other things they didn't have the right brand or flavor. Bruce drinks Crystal Light, but he likes the fruit punch flavor, and all they had was lemonade and iced tea. We bought paper towels, sandwich bags, macaroni & cheese, pasta, pepper, and fruit cups. Everything else goes back on our Stop & Shop list.

We also bought gas, which is a good discounted price, but inconvenient enough that I don't think it's worth a membership. I'm not going to drive to BJ's just to get gas when there's a gas station on my way to the highway (in the opposite direction). Plus, by winter, the new Stop & Shop is going to be finished, close enough that I can spit on it from my backyard, and it will have its own point-system gas station. So there.

1 comment:

  1. You are so organized!

    I think lots of people assume they are getting a better deal at BJ's, Costco, etc. but regardless of the money you save (or not), you also pay in extra time for parking, walking through the warehouse, lack of choice (is it really saving money if you don't get what you want?), the CROWDS, and then the yearly membership on top of it all. Those places stress me out.