I’ve had my Costco card for years, back when I dated someone who could — and did — polish an entire 13-by-9-inch pan of cornbread in one sitting. (I literally had to hide food from him.)
And recently, I got added to an existing Sam’s Club account; meaning, it was free.
It’s interesting how similar — and surprisingly dissimilar — the two whole membership club retailers are.
Let’s start with price.
About three years ago, the website Cheapism, which finds and analyzes the best and cheapest consumer products and services, compared the two giants in 18 different categories ranging from gas to membership fees to health screenings.
It also looked at the price of 38 typical grocery items such as eggs, oatmeal and trash bags.
The verdict? Sam’s Club won the overall shopping competition, though Costco’s unit prices were slightly better.
And while price is important — hey, aren’t we shopping here to save a few cents? — it’s not the sole reason why people chose one over the other.
Sam’s, for example, takes more payment methods than Costco, which only accepts American Express, debit cards and personal checks. But Costco has the famous $1.50 hot dog and drink combo — something it introduced in 1985 at the same price.
And then there’s the parking situation, at least on Oahu.
I can’t even think about the parking lot at Costco’s Iwilei location without breaking out into a proverbial rash. (The Hawaii Kai store isn’t any easier. In fact, I’ve seen more yelling matches there than anywhere else, ever. And I lived in Chicago for a year!)
Sam’s Club, in my opinion, is slightly more sane, despite its location atop the stupidly stressful parking lot at Walmart on Keeaumoku Street. The stalls here seem wider, the crowd mellower. Overall, it’s a far less chaotic situation than at the two Costco stores in town.
People seem to have a strong loyalty to one or the other. It may be location — folks who live in Hawaii Kai may not see the point in trekking all the way to Keeaumoku Street to save a few bucks. Or it could be the products each offers.
Which do you prefer: Costco or Sam’s Club? Or do you hate them both equally?