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OTHER ITA SITES:
Falling Out of Love with Wholesale Warehouse Discount Club Stores
I used to love the thought of going to the local wholesale warehouse club, where the products are stacked up to the warehouse ceiling and the shopping carts are brimming with rolls of toilet paper and cases of cheese snacks. Where else could you pay a memberbership fee of a thirty or forty dollars per year and have access to products by the caseload at a discount?
After joining such a club I realized that not all the prices were cheaper than the non-membership store just across the street. So we decided to shop carefully and only buy those items that were cheaper. Of course, we also ended up buying in quantities that we didn't need. So, when we did find bargains, we ended up with a supply that would last us a couple years.
After adjusting our shopping strategy at the warehouse club to take into account our need to be aware of the higher prices and inconvenient packagaging, we realized another thing. It's not convenient to stand in line with three items, when everyone else ahead of you has their carts overflowing with merchandise. It's clear that not everyone cares about actual value and some folks only want perceived value (you know, a case of maple syrup at a 3 cent discount). So, we soon tired of standing in lines for our handful of items.
We decided that if we were going to get only the best value items in the quantities that suited our lifestyle, that we would only need to make a few trips every couple of months so that we could get everything we wanted without spending all that time standing in line several times per month. But guess what happened? We noticed that each time we'd go in for items on our list that the items sometimes wouldn't be carried anymore. We're not talking about items being out with an empty space on a shelf. We're talking about something else is placed where that item was and the store employees telling us they don't carry it right now, and that we should fill out a comment card if we want to get the items back in stock.
With items on our list not being in stock, we still found ourselves standing in line with a handful of items - instead of the cartful we'd planned on.
It'sfrustrating enough realizing our membership wasn't buying us much more a few well-packaged, well discounted products - combined with long lines and a parking lot that would make most race car pit crews shudder in fear.
Wholesale warehouse shopping clubs almost seem designed for those who don't discriminate on price, who love inconvenience and inconsistency in product availability, and who want to build their afternoon or evening around a shopping trip to a single store.
Why would people build their shopping lifestyle around that type of shopping experience? Perceived value?
It doesn't make sense for my household to change our shopping style (as we had attempted) to fit the wholesale warehouse club retail format if it turns out to not work for us. It may make sense for yours.
We were at dinner with some friends of ours when they told us about an online discount club with a huge variety of products and a very modest membership fee. I was expecting more caseloads of cheese snacks and a hundred dollar membership fee - but that's not what they showed us.
What we saw was a membership fee less than the local warehouse club, and products that was need and use every month - orderable online and delivered to our door - without putting shopping cart dents in our car.
We checked it out. We signed up. We tried it out for several months. And every since our shopping life gets easier.
Now every month I make my shopping list online through our online membership. For the first thirty days of the month I build my online shopping list whenever it's convenient for me, and shortly after the first of the next month we find packages at our door. The next month it's the same.
It's the opposite of the old bricks and mortar warehouse club - it takes me less time to make it work for me. It works around my shopping style, rather than forcing me to change my lifestyle to find the right bargains and most convenient time to go to the store.
Yes, I can still get a case of rolls of toilet paper and cheese snacks - but I never stand in line, I never have to lug my purchases through the parking lot in the rain or snow, and I never have to worry about finding new door-dings on my car.
The biggest benefit of membership in this club is convenience. And with life being as busy as it is for us - I have fallen in love with having my shopping list only a few mouse clicks away from completion.
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