My Life As A Dual Citizen

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I am a dual citizen, which is something that not many people know about me.  My dual citizenship can be challenging, as when competing loyalties come into play.  But most of the time I enjoy the fruits of two similar but distinctly different cultures.

Wait – did you think that I am a citizen of two separate countries?  No, nothing like that at all.  I have memberships at both Sam’s Club and Costco.

We started out at Sam’s, which had only recently taken over what used to be “The Wholesale Club”.  With a young and growing family, the chance to save money by buying diapers and toilet paper in big quantities was attractive.  We were the people who bought milk six gallons at a time.  We had the room to store the extra stuff and a big van to tote it all home in, so all was well.

Then I saw the pickles in my kitchen.  As in a one gallon glass jar of them.  “A gallon of pickles?  Who needs a gallon of pickles?”  My Mrs. replied by telling me that the warehouse club Gallon ‘O Pickles cost only a teeny bit more than the normal jar from the grocery store.  I hate it when logic actually makes a gallon jar of pickles make sense.  But it was true.  So . . . we ate more pickles.  The second half of the jar always tasted better because they were free.

And then Costco came to town.  My Mrs. checked the place out during its Grand Opening.  I was preparing to have the discussion that started with something like “so which one of the warehouse clubs should we belong to.”  This, I soon learned, was the wrong discussion.

“They each have different things” was the beginning of the discussion that we actually ended up having.  The discussion ended with the idea that we could save even more money with two memberships.  And again, she was right – in a way.  Once we signed up as “Exectutive Members” (which earn an annual rebate based on purchases) and resolved to buy most of our gasoline at Costco that extra membership cost little or nothing.  So, yeah.

There have turned out to be benefits of our dual citizenship.  When we travel, odds are that only one of the two will be represented where we are going.  So if there is a need to buy a thirty-two pack of bottled spring water or a monster sized box of Fruit Roll Ups, we will be covered wherever we go.  I like to think of it as consumption insurance.

The two chains have also shown their distinct personalities.  When I want to put my Allen County Indiana persona on, to Sam’s Club I go, where the parking lot is full of Ford F-150s and Chevy Suburbans.  Sams’ emphasis has been on down home shopping for down home people.  Do you want Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise?  You’ve got to go to Sam’s.

When, however, I am feeling all enlightened and upper middle classy it just has to be Costco.  Where I would never even thinking of looking for Miracle Whip because it is just, so, well . . . .   At Costco my poor Kia minivan feels a little out of place from the Infiniti and Toyota SUVs all over.  But I have managed to become comfortable parking without the need to wear sunglasses.  As soon as I am out of the car I can blend in.  When I am holding my case of craft beer or cage-free eggs I blend right in with everyone else.  Until I suggest to someone next to me in line that I still miss buying my eggs in cages, which are so much more durable than those plastic cartons.

It really is true that the personality of the two stores is very different.  I have toyed with the idea of testing this theory by wearing a “Make America Great Again” t-shirt.  I suspect that I would get sneering looks at Costo and pats on the back and invitations to backyard barbecues at Sams.

There are some disadvantages, though.  The biggest one is that I have a hard time ever finding anything.  Is the soup I like at Sam’s or Costco?  And where is it.  I am not a guy who supports extra government regulation, but some basic standards on where stores stock stuff could be helpful.  The only response now is to go methodically in my set pattern, from the beginning to end at each store.  So, of course, I buy more than I intended to as I remember all of the things that didn’t make the list.

The cost of those impulse buys can add up.  In calories, if nothing else.  A bag of kettle corn or a container of chocolate-dipped caramels may not be that much of a commitment at the regular grocery, but at SamsCo such an impulse is tantamount to signing up for an extra 15,000 calories.

The amazing part is that we have kept up both memberships even after the kids have moved out of the house.  Really, does this make sense for just two of us?  On one level, yes.  We will use 128 rolls of toilet paper eventually, so why not save some money by buying it all at once, so long as we have the ability to store the extra?

And if we were to drop one, I really don’t know which one it would be.  Sam’s is a better location for us, has early morning hours (for we business members) and has a phone app that allows me to self-scan as I shop, thus avoiding the line at the check-out.  But Costco sells a much better tasting brand of breaded mozzarella sticks.  And with Lent coming, well, this is important for those of us who are not seafood lovers.

So I guess we will just remain dual citizens for the foreseeable future.  Can I offer you a pickle?

 

 

 

24 thoughts on “My Life As A Dual Citizen

  1. I had a Sam’s Club membership one year when I lived in Terre Haute. I liked it a lot, except that Sam’s Club was way on the south side of town and I lived way on the north side. It seems quaint now, but I never felt like making that 20-25 minute drive allllll the waaaaaaayyyy to the south side. I drive 40 minutes one way to work every day today and hardly think a thing of it.

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  2. Your dual citizenship doesn’t sound like a bad deal at all. Does toilet paper dry rot? Likely not, so you are good to go.

    Living 1.5 miles from a Sam’s Club, I can say I’ve never set foot inside. There was a Sam’s in Quincy, Illinois, I visited once with my father-in-law eight years ago. And I’ve never experienced a Costco.

    That said, I do comprehend the notion of what the appropriate vehicle is to drive to particular business establishments. One can feel delightfully rebellious driving their F-150 4×4 or their full-sized van to Whole Foods to park among the hybrids and CUVs while feeling totally mundane and typical when taking their VW.

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    • Haha, your driveway with an F-150 and a Passat does have something a little bipolar going on, like when we had a Honda Fit and a Crown Victoria.
      Does your Sam’s sell gas? I have found gas prices at the clubs to be consistently lower than the local stations.

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      • Yes, Sam’s has gas. There are no advertised prices so I have no doubt they are undercutting the others by a noticeable margin.

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      • I just checked my Gas Buddy app, which indicates that Costco is 20 cents a gallon cheaper than my neighborhood station. Sam’s and Costco have always been very close.
        Near as I can tell they buy it, Mark it up then sell it, avoiding some of the strange gyrations we see at most stations. When gas goes down quickly Costco is about the same as nearby, but when it jumps Costco is way cheaper. I would guess 10-12 cents is the normal spread. Which is a much bigger deal with my minivan than with my little Honda.

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  3. I don’t think we have Sam’s, but I know we have rarely set foot in a Walmart since we stopped buying diapers 12 years ago. I go once a year to get Shell Rotella oil for the motorcycles, but that’s about it.

    We do have a Costco membership. My wife pesters me to get the card but I won’t go there myself, I just accompany her. It’s nutters in there and the minimum we spend is about $200. Gas is cheap at Costco ($1.11 per litre today which works out to $3.41 per gallon) but we never buy it there, the wait time is so long it’s not worth our time.

    The MAGA T shirt would be an interesting experiment here. Not sure if it would be sneers or grins for ironic humour.

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    • My wait time for gas usually isn’t bad at all. But you can tell when the savings is really good because lines form.

      The worst thing is when I tell my Mrs that I am going for gas. She has developed the mistaken idea that going to Costco for gas is the same thing as parking and going for a 2 mile walk to buy some strawberries or something.

      Both are good places for car batteries.

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  4. In the early ’90s Meijer tried a separate membership type store that only lasted a few years. Mostly I remember getting film and VHS tapes in bulk.

    I do go to the regular Wal-Mart a few times a year, but I haven’t been to Sam’s Club.

    We just got a Costco a few months ago, and I probably should look into it, but the location isn’t terribly handy.

    Now Meijer, on the other hand, I wish they had frequent visitor rewards.

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      • I finally remembered that it was called Source Club and looked it up. There were only 7 stores, all in Michigan, and the whole thing lasted less than 2 years. That can’t have been a good investment! Ours ended up as a Home Depot, so at least the development didn’t go to waste.

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  5. No Sam’s Club anywhere near us, in fact Walmart only got to the Bay Area in the 2000’s and there’s still none in my County now. I can remember my first visit to Price Club, Costco’s predecessor here, in the 1980’s. I was still single then and wondered why anyone would buy a membership for the privilege of purchasing 10 lb packs of frozen meat or 5 lb hunks of Velveeta. A few years later, married with kids and the Costco membership was a no-brainer. Fast forward 20 years, kids out of the house, and though the quality of food had greatly increased, the large sizes and time commitment … not to mention the impulse buys … just seemed irrelevant to us. In fact, I tried walking or biking to Costco just to cut down on the spending, but we finally let our membership expire. Farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s plus Target work just fine, though I miss that Kirkland TP. However, when I briefly resumed my 80 mile round trip commute, the gas prices sure looked good. Retirement cured that!

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  6. “I am not a guy who supports extra government regulation, but some basic standards on where stores stock stuff could be helpful.” Ha ha! You have me considering a run for Congress just so I can introduce this bill, JP. 😉

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