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Warehouse Clubs

Warehouse clubs make goods available in bulk at discount prices to their members, each of whom pays an annual fee, perhaps $50 a year, for the privilege. A typical American warehouse club, such as Costco, the largest, operates out of a large “no-frills” facility, allowing members to buy household goods, electronics, foods (both fresh and processed), and various items like toys, health and beauty aids, and clothing in bulk, saving money in the process. Costco and a number of others also offer discount photo developing and printing, discount prescription drugs, discount eyeglasses, discount tires, and sometimes discount gasoline. Sam’s Club, operated by retailing giant Wal-Mart, is another prominent American warehouse club with stores nationwide. Some warehouse clubs sell wines and spirits, depending on jurisdiction. Most clubs sell a mix of their own and national brands.

A trip to an American warehouse club is something of a spectacle. Families work together to push immense shopping carts through the aisles. In the food sections, employees work behind small tables, offering free sample tastes of snacks or other food items. At checkout, customers are responsible for bringing in their own shopping bags; they may well pack their goods in discarded boxes from the bulk goods themselves.

A trip to a warehouse club usually involves a true expedition, taking an hour at the least. For large families and small merchants buying in bulk, the annual fee is usually well worth paying, provided the products do not go to waste.

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