When you think of warehouse clubs, do mega-rolls of paper towels in a pack the size of your hall closet and snack foods items in quantities that could feed a third-world country come to mind?
Perhaps you relish having enough shampoo to last a decade. However, if you’re like me, the thought of stocking up to the point of turning house space into a survivalist-bunker is not pleasant. If the world should come under siege, and I run out of paper goods or Doritos, I say so be it!
Warehouse clubs are known for carrying necessities in bulk. But did you know they also sell luxury items at a discount? Now saving money by buying luxury items for less is something that appeals to even me.
Luxury for Less: Coach Bags, Herman Miller Chairs & Waterford Crystal
Coach handbags, Herman Miller chairs and Waterford Crystal are just a few examples of well-known luxury products that Costco, the largest warehouse club chain, has sometimes carried over the years.
Coach (COH: NYSE) handbags and I are tight, at times literally as well as figuratively. I am a walking testament to the fact that spending money on a high-quality leather bag saves money over the long run. Not only do they never go out of style, they last nearly forever, while looking good into their golden years. They’re the handbag equivalent of Dick Clark.
Herman Miller (MLHR: Nasdaq) is a U.S. manufacturer of office and home furniture, and has produced a significant number of pieces that are considered iconic modernist designs. So if city-sheik is your style, the Herman Miller chair at your local Costco might be just the thing to perch under that painting with the splotchy red dot.
Ireland’s famed Waterford Crystal has become synonymous with “tasteful crystal items.” For those of you who like to entertain often or just in style, spotting a Waterford Crystal piece gleaming at your local Costco would be — in Martha Stewart-speak — “a good thing.”
Luxury for Less: The Two Big U.S. Warehouse Club Players
Let’s take a quick look at the two largest warehouse clubs:
Costco Warehouse: The Largest Warehouse Club
Costco (COST: Nasdaq), based in Washington state, is the largest (in terms of total sales volume) membership warehouse club chain in the U.S. As of July 2011, it was the sixth largest retailer in the U.S., and the seventh largest retailer in the world.
As of November 2011, individual membership fees started at $55 per year. While generally, only members and their guests can shop at the warehouse locations, anyone can make purchases on Costco’s website (costco.com). However, a 5 percent surcharge is added to purchases made by non-members. (There are some exceptions to a couple of these points.)
Sam’s Club: The #2 Largest Warehouse Club
Sam’s Club is Walmart’s (WMT: NYSE) warehouse brand. Sam’s Club also has various membership levels, and the general process works similarly to Costco’s.
Luxury for Less: Show Me the (BIG) Money!
Ready to go luxury (or pricey item) shopping for less?
What’s your pleasure? A five-night Walt Disney World hotel vacation package for the family? A 46″ Samsung LED HDTV? Perhaps a Mercedes-Benz Roadster?
Grab a BIG cart — and your suitcase, your remote and tunes for the road trip — as we take a peek at each of these amazing deals we discovered just this past summer:
Five-night Walt Disney World Hotel Vacation Package
- Costco Price: $1,909
- Regular Price: $2,386
- Savings: $477 (20%)
This vacation package for two adults and two children at the Vista Palace Hotel and Spa (a “Moderate Plus” category hotel/resort) included Disney World tickets and free meals for kids.
It was regularly priced at $2,306 for the early August 2012 dates I arbitrarily entered into Costco Travel’s online system. That $477 you might save if you’re a Costco member could buy a lot of Mickey & Minnie paraphernalia!
Samsung‘s 46″ Slim 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV
- Costco Price: $1,149.99
- List Price: $1,399.99
- Savings over List: $250
- Savings over Amazon: $48
This is a model in Samsung‘s “Smart TV” line. It has built-in WiFi, among many other bells and whistles.
While it’s easy to beat list prices, it is very hard for brick and mortar stores to beat Amazon’s prices. Thus, I checked Amazon’s pricing on this model, which was $1,197.99 at the time. So Costco members could save $48 over Amazon’s price by picking up this TV at their local store (if available) or ordering it through Costco’s website. Standard shipping is free.
Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster
- Costco Price: $105, 245
- MSRP Price: $111,725
- Savings: $6,480 (5.8%)
- Additional Plus (for some): Fixed priced, no haggling
Costco partners with local authorized auto dealers to bring its members a reduced price on cars. Its website lists the specific vehicles in its inventory.
A CNBC reporter writing a story on Costco was recently quoted 5.8 percent off the MSRP price of $111,725 for this Mercedes roadster. Costco members are also eligible for additional manufacturer rebates and special financing.