5 reasons to switch from Sam’s Club to Costco

A man pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of a warehouse store.

Image source: Getty Images

Given the advantages of each store, it can be difficult to choose.

Key points

  • Seven states do not have Sam’s Club locations.
  • Costco quality is hard to beat.
  • Costco employees are generally more satisfied with their corporate culture.

Of all the things Americans focus on, it’s kind of funny that we spend so much time debating the merits of the two leading big box stores in the United States. Still, if we’re going to spend money on a subscription, we want to get it real. Here we look at five reasons why you might want to switch from Sam’s Club to Costco.

1. More likely to be without Sam’s Club

As hard as it is to imagine anywhere in the United States without a Sam’s Club in its backyard, there isn’t a single Sam’s in any of these seven states:

  • Alaska
  • Vermont
  • District of Colombia
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts

Now, to be fair, there are no Costco stores in Maine, West Virginia, Wyoming, or Rhode Island. While that makes you wonder what Rhode Islanders do when they need a big box store fix, there’s a bigger issue at play here. If you’re in school or move frequently for work, you’ll be more likely to find a nearby Costco after moving to a new city.

2. Costco employees report being happier

If supporting a company’s culture is important to you, Costco is the clear winner. Costco is known for making its employees happy. Indeed.com conducted a survey to find out what Costco and Sam’s Club employees think of the work environment. In every category, from compensation to work/life balance and job security, Costco ran away with higher marks.

3. The Kirkland brand is a game changer

There is no doubt that Sam’s Club has more brand name products than Costco. The catch is that these branded products often cost more per unit than they cost elsewhere. Shopping at a big box store only makes sense if it leaves your bank account a bit plumper at the end of the month.

While Sam’s Club offers its Member’s Mark brand in-store, it is difficult for Member’s Mark to compete with Kirkland products. The Kirkland Signature brand labels everything from French vodka to pure maple syrup. You don’t have to be crazy about all the Kirkland brand products to find a handful that you can’t imagine leaving the store without. The Kirkland brand is one of the reasons Costco has earned a reputation for premium products.

4. Easier returns (at least at most Costco stores)

Granted, it’s fairly easy to make returns to both Sam’s Club and Costco, but Sam’s Club employees would prefer you have a receipt with you. Costco is like, “Oh, an open box of raisins and no receipt? That’s cool.”

It all boils down to Costco having a shorter list of non-returnable items.

5. More space to move around

This is by no means a knock on Sam’s Club as some of its stores have features such as natural lighting and skylights, which make any space more enjoyable. The thing is, Costco stores are, on average, simply bigger than Sam’s Club stores.

The average Sam’s Club is about 136,000 square feet. The average Costco is around 146,000 square feet. While 10,000 square feet may not seem like much, it’s almost a quarter of an acre. And when you have hundreds of people in a store at the same time, every square meter of space counts.

The great thing about Sam’s Club and Costco is that you can’t go wrong. It really is a matter of preference. It’s also a matter of where a household is likely to save the most money, and it depends on the type of purchases they make. Ideally, we could all try both stores before deciding which best suits our needs.

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