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5 Tips For Warehouse Club Shopping

9:02 AM, Nov 24, 2009   |    comments
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PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WTSP) - When it comes to saving money, bigger isn't always better.

In fact, there are some items that are not cheaper at the warehouse club stores, such as toilet paper, paper plates and napkins.

"Toilet paper is extremely expensive at the warehouse club," said money expert Mary Hunt. For example, at one time, Sam's Club sold a 36-pack of Charmin Ultra for $18.32, or 51 cents a roll. A 24-pack on-sale for $9.99 at Safeway worked out to 42 cents per roll.

Also, don't assume gasoline is cheaper at warehouse club stores. When gas prices are falling, deals at the club stores are great. But when prices rise, be cautious.

Alcohol is one of the best deals at warehouse club stores. It can cost 35 percent less than the supermarket.

Milk, butter and eggs are generally marked at prices 20 percent lower than the grocery store. You can also find great deals on meat, electronics, prescription medicine and coffee at the warehouse club stores.

10 Connects has five tips for finding the best deals at warehouse club stores.

The first tip is stick to your list, which will avoid tempting impulse buys. Also, use cash to ensure you stick to your budget.

"When [shoppers] shopped that list, we found they really saved big, about 50 percent," said Jody Rohlena, deputy editor of Shop Smart Magazine.

Also, use coupons. BJ's Wholesale accepts coupons, but Costco and Sam's Club do not.

"We are the only wholesale company that takes manufacturers coupon with our coupon. So you can apply multiple coupons to same purchase," said Alek Shapiro, general manager of a BJ's in College Point, New York.

Tip three is know the unit prices of the items you're buying. That allows you to make a real comparison by price per ounce, per pound or per quart. Then, you can compare that unit price to the unit price at the grocery store.

Tip four is shop with a friend and split the deals, especially on perishable items like meat, produce and prepared foods. This will help ensure that nothing goes to waste. Buying in bulk doesn't pay if it's too much for your family to consume.

"We just bought something. Cut it in half. She gets half, [and] I get half," said shopper Elizabeth Rivera.

Tip five is unlock the secret codes. At BJ's, look for items that end in a 0. That means it's discontinued and super discounted. Costco ends its numbers with a 7 and Sam's Club uses a "C" in its price tag, tipping you off to the best bargains.

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