I’ve always been a fan of warehouse stores. On many, many items, you can get a great deal there if you’re willing to buy a large quantity of items at once. For a person with a lot of storage space and a family (like me), storage isn’t a problem, nor is using it up.
People often ask me what kinds of items I buy there and I respond with the usual things: toilet paper, trash bags, bulk foods, and so on. These are the things that people always think of when they think of warehouse stores – the stuff you buy on a normal grocery store run, but in bulk.
However, I’ve come to find that many of the best deals at warehouse stores aren’t simple replacements for grocery shopping. Here are ten things I’ve come to purchase regularly from my local Sam’s Club instead of through other options.
Things I Buy in Bulk
Paper and office supplies
Printer paper? Check. Blank prints so I can print off photos for wall decorations and sending to family? Check. Printer cartridges? Check. Bulk Christmas cards? Check. Folders and paper clips? Check.
I’m pretty fanatic about replacing my toothbrush regularly. I usually replace them after two months, even though you’re supposedly able to keep them for three months – I just feel like the brushes are in poor shape and aren’t cleaning my teeth nearly as well around the two month mark. That means I need two replacement brushes between each dentist visit (where they give me a free brush). That’s four brushes a year just for me – and two for my wife – and we like to keep some extras on hand for guests. The solution? A big jumbo pack of twelve brushes or so, which saves us a lot and lasts about two years.
DVD-Rs and CD-Rs
I like to burn CDs full of pictures for family members – and I also sometimes assemble DVDs of family movies to share. This means I regularly need a big cylinder of blank CDs and/or DVDs – and the warehouse store is the cheap place to get them.
My local Sam’s Club sells a ton of gift cards for various restaurants, cell phone plans, online games and music stores, and so on. All of them are below face value, and many are significantly below face value. These are not only useful for gifting, but they can occasionally be useful for one’s personal use – if I’m planning on using the iTunes Music Store, for example, it’s worth picking up a gift card so I can get $25 worth of credit for less than $25.
Our local Sam’s Club has an enormous selection of sub-$10 wines, many of which are quite tasty. You can also find the ingredients for pretty much any mixed drink you might want to make there, with prices substantially lower than the local liquor shop.
Our home has roughly fifty light bulb sockets, which means we’re regularly replacing bulbs. The vast majority of the bulbs are 75 watt bulbs, so we simply buy the 75 watt bulbs in bulk and keep them in the cupboard. It feels rather silly to have twenty bulbs in the closet, but when you eventually use all of them and you calculate the per-bulb savings, it’s well worth it!
Recently, I was able to replace a pair of tires on my truck. The total bill for replacing both tires was actually cheaper than the total cost of replacing one tire at a comparable auto shop in town – for the same kind of tire. That’s a significant and surprising savings.
The local Sam’s Club has the cheapest gas prices in town, usually (not always, but usually) beating all competitors by a nickel a gallon or so. Every time I fill up my truck there, I save about a dollar – and over the course of a year, that alone can pay for a large portion of the club membership.
Underwear and socks
Not long ago, I finally replaced most of my socks – my wife’s constant complaints about holes in my socks convinced me to replace them. This meant I needed to buy a lot of socks – multiple packs at once. I purchased a huge bulk pack of socks at Sam’s after comparing prices and saved roughly twenty cents a pair. I get similar savings when I buy underwear there as well.
Sam’s Club has a poor video game selection, but when they do have a game, you can’t beat the prices. I always check Sam’s first before making a video game purchase – and on a recent purchase, I saved more than $10 over the cheapest price I could find online on a particular game.
It’s not just the expected stuff that makes warehouse shopping a value for me – it’s the unexpected things that really have made our membership worthwhile.