A dozen rolls of paper towels. A bag of 30 tube socks. Two giant “Family Size” boxes of Cheerios. Five pounds of peanut M&Ms. When it comes to buying everyday necessities in bulk, it’s hard to beat Costco, America’s favorite membership-only warehouse club and the largest such chain in the world. Still, there are other options. Here are eight other nationwide, or close to nationwide, chains that also offer up terrific deals on the necessities—and the wants—of daily life.
BJ’s Wholesale Club
If you live in the eastern half of the United States and prefer to avoid the crowds at Costco but want similar deals, BJ’s Wholesale Club is worth a visit. Like Costco, BJ’s sells a wide range of fresh and packaged food, home goods, toiletries, and pet supplies in bulk or oversize packages as well as furniture, electronics, toys, clothing, and seasonal decor. You’ll pay $55 for an annual membership to BJ’s—it’s $60 at Costco—and you’ll receive a hefty coupon book each month that adds even more savings to many items throughout the store.
The second-largest membership-only wholesale chain in the United States, Sam’s Club has stores in almost every state. You’ll pay $45 per year for a membership, and once inside the store, you’ll find a huge range of packaged and fresh foods, toiletries and OTC medications, pet supplies, and household goods, most sold in bulk or multipack quantities. Sam’s Club also has great deals on furniture, electronics, clothing, toys, and seasonal offerings. Like Costco and BJ’s, Sam’s Club offers deals on travel, car tires, prescription glasses, and prescription medications.
Target and Walmart
The two largest discount retailers in the United States, both Target and Walmart have stores in all 50 states. While neither sells in bulk as the membership wholesale stores do, both are great choices for low prices on just about everything you need to keep your home up and running, including fresh and packaged foods, toiletries, cleaning supplies and other household necessities, pet supplies, and health needs. If you like low prices but don’t need or have room for bulk purchases, these two shopping destinations are worth the trip.
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Want bargains in bulk delivered right to your door within just a couple of days? Then it’s well worth the annual $119 for an Amazon Prime membership. The world’s largest virtual storefront offers up a dizzying array of reasonably priced bulk goods, including pet supplies, packaged foods, toiletries, household essentials, OTC health needs, and just about anything else you can think of. And of course, as an Amazon Prime member, you’ll receive free shipping on almost all of your purchases, plus you'll have access to a huge selection of movies, music, and books ready for instant enjoyment in your own living room.
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Unless you live in a very rural area, there’s almost certainly a dollar store nearby—Dollar Tree and Dollar General are the largest such chains nationwide—and while these stores don’t sell items in bulk, their crazy-low prices make it very economical to buy several of whatever you might need. Some of the best deals at dollar stores include greeting cards, gift wrap, and cleaning supplies.
Aldi and Trader Joe’s
If you neither need nor want giant boxes of cereal or gallon-size containers of condiments but still like to stretch your grocery dollars as far as possible, head to either Aldi—found in 36 states—or Trader Joe’s, which has locations in 42 states. Generally considered to be the least expensive close-to-nationwide supermarket chains, both companies keep prices under control by mostly selling products branded under their own names rather than costlier big-name brands.
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What do you get when you combine the low prices of the membership warehouses without the need to pay for a membership, the overstock and liquidated merchandise you often find in dollar stores, and a huge assortment of other reasonably priced products? The answer: Big Lots, which has locations in every state except Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota. You’ll find groceries, household necessities, pet supplies, personal care products, and garden supplies as well as toys, furniture, clothing, and electronics, all at very reasonable prices. Sign up for the free Big Rewards program, and you’ll get even steeper discounts.
Ethnic Grocery Stores
Except for those in the tiniest towns or the most rural locations, almost everyone lives within reasonable driving distance of an ethnic grocery store, whether it’s Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian. What you’ll generally find at these stores, along with a great selection of both big-name brands and some that may not be as familiar to you—all at very reasonable prices, by the way—are bulk bins or oversize bags of various types of rice, beans, spices, and seeds. At most ethnic grocery stores, you can check off your entire shopping list for quite a bit less than you’d spend on the very same products at one of the nationwide grocery chains, and you may discover some new favorite foods while you're at it.
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