Is a warehouse club membership worth the cost?

| October 23, 2012 | Comments (3)

We recently renewed our warehouse club membership. We did it because we wanted to purchase one big item. The amount we saved on that item was well worth the $50 annual fee we paid to renew. I have to admit that if I had planned a little better I would have bought this item before our membership expired. I don’t know that we would have renewed it if we didn’t want to buy this one item.

In the years that we’ve had our warehouse club membership the thrill has worn off. When we had infant twins we bought diaper wipes by the case. We found it convenient to stock up on staples a few times a year as it was difficult to shop with young twins. A warehouse club was a good place to print digital photos in those days when we documented every moment of our daughters’ milestones.

Since our girls are older now, we don’t shop at our warehouse club more than a couple of times a year. We go for a few bulk items and alway find some other things to buy. It’s rare for us to buy a big item like our most recent purchase. Usually we walk out with the same few items on special. Maybe we pick up an impulse purchase or two, but not often. We have a pretty set list of items now.

Whenever we leave I feel like we spent too much money and didn’t really get a good value. I’m never really certain the cost of entry is worth the “discount” we receive on the few items we buy. I feel like we could save as much money if we just purchased our items at the local grocery store with a coupon and loyalty card.

After we get home we have to store everything. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but shopping carts full of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and paper towels take up space. When I go down to our basement I wonder why we need to buy 48 rolls of toilet paper at a time. Do we really need so many dry floor dust clothes? What was I thinking when I put a twelve pack of mac-n-cheese in the cart?

Part of my issue is that we don’t live close to a warehouse club store. It’s about a three-hour outing for us. It takes between 20 and 30 minutes for us to get to a warehouse club store. We live between a few, but none are “run in” close. I can’t ever remember a time when we’ve been about to get in and out of a warehouse club in fewer than 90 minutes. When you add in all the time it takes to unload and store everything, it’s at least three hours.

It’s not that I want to move from one warehouse club to another. We’ve belonged to both big warehouse clubs. I don’t prefer one over the other. I feel like they both have advantages and disadvantages, without a winner in either direction.

My husband feels like the warehouse club membership is worth the cost, but I still feel like we don’t get a good deal. This year we’re committed to keeping track of purchases and really evaluating our warehouse club membership. If it goes in the direction I think it will, we’ll be ex-members this time next year.

Shari blog about life with twin tween daughters at Two Times the Fun, family-friendly events at Get Out and Have Fun Around Chicagoland and all things book-related at OMB (Oh My Books).

Image courtesy of Stock Exchange.

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Category: Chicago, New Posts

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

Comments (3)

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  1. Anne says:

    I feel the same way, Shari – you have to weigh the benefits versus the costs as you’ve said. I signed up for the warehouse club’s credit card. Yes, it’s another credit card but I earn cash back wherever use the card, and not just at the club. So I usually earn enough to pay myself back that 50 dollars in membership fees.

  2. A.C. says:

    Just a thought: these clubs would be a ‘deal’ if you have one membership and a neighbor/friend has access to another club, and you set a date to go together. Or, if ambitious enough: most clubs have an online catalog;just like some people buy a half or whole (cow/pig)and split it, you could do “half-case” or “quarter case” with a small group, on regular rotations, even (especially) pre-paid.
    If the buyer/member 1) gets orders & checks up front (each buyer using the online ‘cart’ and gives a check up front) and 2) uses your “Points” credit card, that could add up to “pay” you in the short run for your efforts, while neighbors (seniors/busy families) appreciate the convenience..
    Some stores, if the order is put in online, you can have it pre-pulled & ready for pickup at the service desk (and just get the cold/frozen/fresh items in the cart). One or two ‘buds’ or ‘gal-pals’ can go with for a nice time-out,(shared childcare for a couple of hours while your friend does your shopping,etc).
    any combination can make the $40-$60 membership quite ‘worth the while’, if managed well with the right combination of likeminded friends.

  3. Christina says:

    We let our membership expire as well. If I want to buy something huge I might rejoin, but I also found that it took up too much time and did not save enough money.

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