At the risk of sounding like a politically incorrect boob, I have a secret to admit: I like Sam’s Club. Let me amend that: I love Sam’s Club.
I know, I know; Sam Walton was the devil incarnate. His empire caused the entire downfall of American life and civilization as we know it. Wal-Mart (which I have never taken a shine to) and Sam’s Club have been vilified as uncaring and tyrannical employers who refuse to provide healthcare insurance and a decent wage. (If this were the case, why is it that so many of the employees at our local Sam’s have been there 20 years or more?) The nerve of that guy, Sam Walton, offering products to consumers at a lower cost than his competitors! What the hell was he thinking?
I’ve been a Sam’s Club convert since the mid 1990s when my son suffered a growth spurt and began to devour everything in sight. It’s rather costly to provide that volume of food to growing children. (It is 13 years later, and he still eats everything in sight. Thank goodness his metabolism can handle it.)
Even though my little birdies are now flying out of the nest, and I don’t really have a need to keep a ready supply of bulk food, I’m not giving up my membership any time soon. I use my card to procure business products, but it’s also the go-to store for home items, as well.
I love the cheap (I mean thrifty) super-soft Charmin and the jumbo box of Bounce dryer sheets. My husband breaks glassware on a regular basis and replacements are cheaper at Sam’s. Where else can I get lemons and romaine lettuce for very little money? Special K? Tuna? One time, they had a one-pound jar of cocktail sauce for 52 cents.
Incidentally, I’ve never had a bad steak from Sam’s, and they actually have a pretty good selection of wine and champagne at a significant discount from other nearby vendors. This, from our local small-ish Sam’s, which is not one of those super-duper ones that are acres larger.
My favorite time to shop is during business member hours (7 to 10 a.m.) during the workweek. The store is relatively quiet and you can drop in and make your way out easily. I had forgotten how chaotic a weekend trip to Sam’s Club could be until last Saturday afternoon, when I decided to brave the masses. It was the only available time slot I had, and I had to feed the urge to go.
You need special skills to survive a Saturday excursion to Sam's Club. If you decide to venture in during the weekend, just remember thousands of other people have the same idea and they are going to be there at the precisely same time as you. There’s no in-and-out quickly on a Saturday, so just resign yourself to spending a lot more time navigating the aisles.
Hunker down in your bunker and enjoy it. Speaking of in (and out), it appears that weekend shoppers don’t know the meaning of “Entrance” and “Exit.” Our Sam’s entrance and exit doors are right next to each other, causing a bit of confusion to the uninitiated. Be prepared to fight the misguided flow of traffic coming into the store, and also when leaving. Try very hard not to use your 1,000-pound flatbed to run over small children and old foreign ladies who don’t know any better.
Once inside, you will notice Saturday shopping cart traffic is out of control. The main reason for this is the proliferation of samples that may pop up like mushrooms between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.. I gather some people come to Sam’s on Saturday specifically to have lunch. This is okay (I think), but realize that a really hot item like Italian meatballs in sauce or General Tsao’s chicken is going to cause a traffic jam, and the commotion is usually located right in front of the refrigerated area that houses the butter you need.
Speaking of shopping cart etiquette, weekend Sam’s Club shoppers are the absolute worst. People are beyond rude. I, of course, am gauging my opinion as an ex-Army brat. There’s nothing more treacherous than making your way through a commissary where the Army wives are just as likely to pull rank as their husbands and plow into your rear end (literally) in an attempt to get at the last ripe watermelon before you snag it. Yessiree Bob, I needed that military experience to help me with weekend Samming.
Waiting in line for the check out process can be long and arduous, so pick up a $4 novel and commence to read while you are waiting your turn. During Christmas, I actually finished reading For One More Day by Mitch Albom while waiting in line. Of course, it’s fairly light material and I’m a graduate from the Evelyn Wood School of Reading. There are a ton of cookbooks to snag recipes from, and the occasional self-help manual, but I find the trashy romance novels to be the best waiting-in-line material.
Once you’ve secured your purchases, it’s time to load them carefully in your car. I like to use a container to keep my small items together. A Sam’s Club insulated bag makes an excellent choice. You don’t want to fish out a rotting container of Half-and-half from under your front seat a day after the highest recorded temperature in your area in 100 years.
Finally, when exiting the parking lot, remember one thing: those people who can’t read “Entrance” and “Exit” signs, and who recklessly banged into your cart on the way to the free rib eye sample, probably all have cars, too. Bad driving habits often carry over.