Worst Stuff to Buy at BJ’s Club and Costco

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Personal finance gurus Ken and Daria Dolan weigh in on what you really shouldn’t buy at warehouse clubs like BJ’s and Costco.

Their list, from a WalletPop post, includes gasoline (which they say is quicker to increase prices than other gas stations), fresh produce (which probably costs or less the same at a local grocery store if we’re talking about in-season fruits and veggies), toilet paper and paper towels (just not that cheap at these stores), and jewelry and designer clothes (the poor quality often doesn’t justify the “discounted” price).

Frankly, I question the gas thing. We belong to BJ’s, and at least in my experience, the gasoline prices there are always substantially cheaper than stations down the highway. I’ve always assumed the store uses a cheap gas price as a ploy to get shoppers to come in—and it works. It’s the same reason that eggs and milk are cheaper at these stores. BJ’s attracts shoppers to come in and buy these items for less than they’d pay at a standard grocery store. It’s no coincidence that the items being discounted are things that people need regularly. Therefore BJ’s gets these shoppers in the door regularly, hoping that they’ll look around and buy more stuff that they probably don’t need. You’re already there, right? Why not browse a few aisles? That’s exactly what stores want you to do.

The Dolans also bring up the question of big versus many: What’s the better deal?

Just because an item is three times the size of the one you’d find in the supermarket, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bargain at the warehouse. In fact, many times that massive one gallon container of ketchup costs more than the shrink-wrapped bundle of six smaller ketchup bottles.

Not only can the multi-packs be the real bargain, they can also be much more convenient. Those smaller containers can be much easier to use, to store and to finish before they go bad.

Very true. One thing not on their list: stuff you really don’t need. Go to the store with a shopping list—and stick to the list. Otherwise, you’ll come home with an odd assortment of items you had no intention or need to buy. And that is the worst stuff to buy at BJ’s, Costco, or anywhere else for that matter.