Which Warehouse Club Is Best?

Which Warehouse Club Is Best?
See Gallery
Which Warehouse Club Is Best?
While the economy is in rough times, Costco Wholesale, BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club are in a sweet spot. So Smart Money set out for an unscientific survey of the Big Three. Its goal was to find the cost of a basket of 10 comparable grocery items purchased at each of the three stores, while checking out the selection and service along the way.

' Read the Article

First Up: BJ's
Number of stores: 178
Location: 16 Eastern states
Membership fee: $45

Pros: Wide selection of items, very friendly staff, modest prices.

Next: More on BJ's
Cons: Loud TVs with infomercials line the aisles, no wine section.

In Summary: BJ's offers an overall pleasant shopping experience and affordable prices. Total shopping cost: $55.35.

Next: Sam's Club
Number of stores: 593
Location: Nationwide
Membership fee: $40

Pros: Wide shopping aisles, exotic seafood choices, quality products.

Next: More on Sam's Club
Cons: Lots of imposing security cameras, no express checkout lane, less selection than BJ's.

In Summary: Sam's Club has a smaller selection than BJ's, but has quality products. Checkout prices are nearly the same as BJ's. Total shopping cost: $55.66.

Next: Costco
Number of stores: 393
Location: Nationwide
Membership fee: $50

Pros: Freshest baked goods, high-end wine choices, slightly more brands than Sam's Club.

Next: More on Costco
Cons: Most expensive membership fee, fewer brands available than BJ's, messy food court area, uncleaned milk spills in the dairy aisle, most expensive checkout cost.

In Summary: Costco has a better selection of higher-end items, but you'll pay more for everyday shopping. Total shopping cost: $62.31.

Next: SmartMoney's verdict
For our money, the best of the bunch was the one with the lowest prices, widest selection and friendliest service: BJ's.

Next: More from WalletPop
More in Money & Finance:
Celebrity Chef Secrets

Celebrity chefs all have some secrets that they would like to keep from their fans. Unfortunately, they're not all about the cooking.See if you've been fooled.

10 Things Celebrity ChefsWon't Tell You