I’m going to compare/review the two most popular wholesale clubs for you!
Right now I have memberships to both places (after switching to Costco and then also wanting my Sam’s back) and I think I can give you some advice on where to join (cause let’s face it, the memberships aren’t that cheap) depending on your preferences as well! I’m going to go through several things that are probably the most important to most moms. We recently joined Costco because we saw a special on CNBC and how people were ranting and raving over their brand of stuff, customer service, prices and quality.
So, here we go!
1. Crowd. Sam’s Club is always very calm and WAY less crowded than Costco (maybe that tells you something, maybe it doesn’t). I feel like it’s somewhat of a fun place to take my kids because they can get out of the cart and run around a little. Even though Costco is more crowded, they seem to carry the crowd pretty well (not well enough for me to let my kids run though). Sam’s Club normally has two or three cash registers open whereas Costco has most open and usually two people manning each register. Checkout time is usually about the same at both stores. Getting out the door is not the same. Sometimes I have to wait five plus minutes for someone to check my receipt at the door at Costco because of the long line.
2. Food. Most families join because of the savings on food. I can say hands down Sam’s Club wins it for me here. The first time I went to Costco, I immediately missed my whole wheat sandwich rounds for the girls, the 2 pound package of Jimmy Dean sausage, and the good selection of Laughing Cow cheese spread. All three of these food items are something I bought every time I went there and Costco sells none of them ( well, they sell one kind of Light Laughing Cow). Sam’s Club prices are also better on food items. Oh, and their cakes…. Sam’s wins again with their better selection of birthday/grad/all occasion cakes. They have so many different choices and designs AND COOKIE CAKES. Did I mention they have a double layer COOKIE CAKE with icing in the middle? Sorry people, it’s the little things in life.
3. Stuff besides food. I’m mostly talking about furniture. You really can’t beat the quality of Costco’s furniture. However, when saying this, Sam’s also has furniture and they are both priced according to quality. Costco’s furniture prices are expensive, but they have a right to be because it is good stuff. Sam’s Club furniture is cheaper, but the quality just isn’t there.
Besides furniture, they both have clothes. I’ve found much better deals on clothes for my girls at Sam’s Club. I can’t beat paying $5 and some change for a Carter’s outfit. There isn’t any brand differentiation here, Sam’s Club just has a better price.
4. Eating at the store. At our Costco, you have to pay cash unless you go to a different area, pay with cc and then get in the food line. At Sam’s you can pay with cc at the counter. Food quality is about the same and priced the same. Sam’s Club did win my heart with the food bar though because they know my love for Coke Zero. They have about three times as many soda choices.
5. Cleanliness/appearance of the store. I would say that they are both equally clean (I think it might depend on the area that you live). Both sets of bathrooms where I live (Dulles, VA) have been clean. I do like that Sam’s has a family bathroom that has a little toilet for my girls. I’m not sure if all have this, but ours does.
6. Diapers/Wipes. This may not be important to some, but with me overlapping with kids in diapers twice, it is important to me! My big issue is that Costco does not sell Pampers diapers and those (at least for the first couple of stages) have been the best for my girls. They both sell their own store brand, Luvs and Huggies. I have tried Sam’s Club diapers and they worked fine for me in the later stages. I’ve actually never tried Kirkland diapers, but I heard they are amazing and just as good as Huggies. Well, they better be cause they are the exact same price for the same amount of diapers. It’s hard for me to ever justify paying the same price for any store brand item. Sure, call me weird. Same goes for the wipes. I’m kind of funny about my wipes. I did not like store brand Sam’s Club wipes and am very partial to Huggies. Huggies wipes are much cheaper at Sam’s. Kirkland wipes are good, however they are priced the same at Costco (for the same amount) as Huggies again. Call me weird again, but I’m going for the Huggies.
7. Gas. Seriously, it seems like people at Costco think the world is going to run out of gas. Usually you are 4-5 cars back waiting for a pump. Sam’s Club is drive right up (I think I’ve had to wait once car back like once). I think the gas is pretty important because you do save a lot, especially me and my HUGE tank.
8. Credit cards. Costco: check, cash, debit or American Express. Sam’s: check, cash Discover, or Mastercard
I hope these eight items help you decide which to join. Of course location is going to play a huge roll in which one you decide. Mine are less than a mile apart, so it’s basically a choice. For me, I won’t cheat on Sam’s Club again and get a Costco membership UNLESS I’m looking for furniture and I really fall in love with something at Costco. In that case, I will keep both.
Am I missing anything? I know there are a ton of obsessive people over Costco. Feel free to leave a comment and explain why you like one store better than the other!
About Dana Patterson
I'm an energetic SAHM of two fun little girls! It's never a dull moment with kids 21 months apart. I love life and enjoy cooking, working out and just hanging with my family.