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Curious Whether Warehouse Stores Cost Less

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Curious Whether Warehouse Stores Cost LessWBZ

We’re all looking to save a buck.

Christine from Southboro Declared her Curiosity, asking:

“Do families really save money shopping in warehouses vs. regular grocery stores or places like Walmart?”

We did some shopping to find out the best ways to save.

They are paradise for bargain hunters, warehouse clubs like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club.

They offer products, often in bulk, and usually offer good deals.

But consumer advocate and founder of www.consumerworld.org Edgar Dworsky says they’re not always cheaper.

“Sometimes it’s a better deal if you go to a discount department store or supermarket that’s having a big sale,” he said.

If you add in coupons, especially the doublers, the traditional stores can become the bargains, especially since Costco doesn’t accept manufacturers coupons.

However, BJ’s does, and both warehouse clubs offer their own coupons.

SHOP AROUND

So you really have to do some serious comparison shopping.

Remember, warehouse clubs charge membership fees of about $50, so you have to save that much just to break even.

“So is it worth it if you’re buying just a few items to go buy a membership? The answer is probably no,” said Dworsky.

But Carolyn Patten, the manager of BJ’s in Revere, said if you shop regularly at a warehouse club, the membership price goes away fairly quickly.

“That membership fee gets paid back to the member in savings over what they would pay at a supermarket or discounter,” she said.

We did our own price comparison and found that it does pay to shop around.

For milk, we found a deal at BJ’s, $2.09 for a gallon of skim.

Walmart was close at $2.68; with Stop and Shop and Shaws much more expensive.

For 24 Duracell AA batteries, Home Depot was cheapest at about $10, while BJ’s cost $12.

For strawberries and Bounty napkins, BJ’s was cheapest.

But for eggs, we found $1.28 for a dozen large eggs at Walmart, while BJ’s sold a dozen extra large for about $1.50.

Still a good deal, but you have to buy 2 dozen.

HAVE TO STORE IT

So you have to be able to store them and use them before they go bad.

That’s something to remember with a lot of the products at warehouse stores.

If you buy in bulk, it’s not a bargain if it goes to waste.

However, if you can’t find a sale anywhere else, the warehouse clubs are tough to beat.

PLACES TO SAVE

“Vitamins, aspirin, that type of stuff, you’re going to do very well at a warehouse club,” said Dworsky.

Another area to look at is prescriptions.

“Prescription drugs at Costco are probably cheaper than any other store. And a little secret, you don’t have to be a member,” said Dworsky.

Some other things you can often do well with at warehouse clubs are photo processing, some appliances like air conditioners and microwaves, and sometimes, gasoline.

Be sure to check the stores’ websites to see how their prices compare.

The best way to save is to work at it, and don’t assume bigger is always better.

What do you think?

Join the conversation and Declare Your Curiosity.

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