I really had to fight to not buy anything at Sam’s Club. Everything was calling out to me, like, “Consume me! CONSUME me!”
The first temptation was the giant bottle of garlic powder; then, the finely marbled steaks and stacks of giant cakes; the sea cucumbers (dried and wet); a bilingual speak ’n’ spell (!); salmon by the kilo; diapers by the case; white t-shirts that don’t wrinkle; and the most futuristic massage chair I’ve ever sat in -- better than any human touch I’ve ever felt.
In the end, I won.
Well. I still bought stuff. Call it win-win.
In the end, the deals were too good, and after wandering the space for five hours, I walked out with a big cart loaded with products I use all the time, like contact solution, cat litter, coffee, and olive oil. Plus, I got normal results from a hearing test and a blood pressure check AND I consumed around 1500 calories in the cafeteria.
Great beef roll. Passable coffee.
If you also like to take long, meandering pleasure trips to the supermarket, you’ll probably like Sam’s.
Sam’s is an adventure, and real talk, maybe it will make your life better.
How? How can a grocery store actually, tangibly make your life better. Glad you asked!
I Do Enjoy Saving Time and Wasting Less Packaging
There’s certain goods I need on the reg, like olive oil, cat litter, contact solution, butter, and coffee beans (they have a huge in-store grinder!). I’d rather buy them in bulk and know they’re authentic. But when I do this on Taobao, I end up with a a kilo of plastic packing, tape, and bubble wrap for a jar of peanut butter, and I’m never 100% sure it’s legit.
I’m also tired of spending time checking seller ratings and comments, and talking to people who keep calling me 亲. At Sam’s, they sell one kind of cat litter. It’s green tea tofu and comes in a big 7kg tub, instead of seven 1kg bags like my preferred Taobao shop. I could probably plant a lemon tree in the tub after. Bulk is good for cat litter.
That said, I wouldn’t buy baked goods at Sam’s because there is never really a time when I need 20 croissants.
Next Time I Throw A Party, I’m Going to Sam’s
Or maybe there’s one time I would buy 20 croissants.
Sometimes I want to throw a party or picnic, but I don’t want to cook. I dig the food at some other supermarkets like Aldi, but their portions are too small for big groups. Having a restaurant cater is a nice idea, but cost prohibitive. Luckily Sam’s has all kinds of sandwiches, salads, huge plates of wings, cold cuts, everything, all in borderline-obscene XXL portions.
Drinks come in easy denominations like 24-packs. A 16-inch pizza is like 65rmb. For BBQs, they have everything from Australian/US steaks to charcoal to the actual grill. This place must be lit before CNY.
I’m Old-School. I Like Trying Out Things at the Store.
Truthfully, I already do this at other places, but then I just buy the items on Taobao because it’s cheaper. But for the items I checked at Sam’s, like a Braun shaver I don’t really need but really want, they cost the same as the lowest legit Taobao shop. And for food, Sam’s has a full cafeteria and lots of sample stations to hit as you wander. You need they energy because it feels like going to Hongqiao Airport.
I'm Finding Unique Products I Didn't Expect to Find All in One Place
When I finally reached the third floor of Sam’s, I saw inflatable rafts shaped like friendly crabs. Next to that was a jewelry section with engagement rings, the latest cleaning robots, surfboards, kayaks, Nintendo Switch with a demo of the greatest video game ever, "Ringfit Adventure", pianos and keyboards, combination washers and dryers, and huge bags of dried everything, from scallops to jujubes. Something for the whole family.
But the coolest item I found in the whole club was this 6998rmb set of Wuliangye baijiu.
Imagine showing up to CNY with this. You’re golden. Good times are here again. There’s also a massive wine section and tons of whisky by the bottle and set.
And if it’s not a drinking vibe, you can always just bring a whole leg of ham.
There’s tons of products like this, including the Member’s Mark brand goods for olive oil and other daily musts.
High Quality at a Great Price Sounds Like "Marketing Talk", But Damn...
The prices on seafood and imported Australian beef are insanely cheap, like 50% cheaper than what you'd find downtown. A kilo of frozen salmon is like 100rmb!! Someday, I will make one of those massive paellas you see at festivals, and I’m coming here for the big bags of seafood.
When you’re cooking for friends, it’s great to get imported butter and cheese in 500gram blocks for a lower price and less waste.
This Area Called X-Plus
Sam’s has this area called X-Plus, which is like, experiential shopping. Here’s where you find products like this massive tent. Glamping is so hot right now. I kinda feel like all of Sam’s is experiential shopping though?
Next time I visit, I’m going to wander for a few hours, crush some beef rolls in the cafeteria, maybe take a nap in this tent, wake up, play some Ringfit, practice piano for a bit, hit the massage chair, and then finally check out.
So... When I'm Feeling Lazy...They Deliver
I don’t always have time to wander around grocery stores for hours. Luckily, Sam’s has one-hour delivery to lots of areas in town, and best of all, if you’re a member, delivery is free! Sam’s has their own APP and Mini Program – ordering is simple.
I Got a Bunch of Free Health Check-Ups
Over the last decade, I’ve probably spent considerable time in nightclubs and KTVs with dangerously high volumes. I took the free hearing test at Sam’s and was relieved when the specialist told me my hearing is in the normal range! She was super nice. We talked about all those hidden sounds that cats and insects can hear above the 18khz range.
If I did need a hearing aid, Sam’s has those too.
They also do free vision checks and they’ve got a nice selection of prescription glasses.
Also, good news, my blood pressure is normal.
Sam’s stocks lots of other quality health care products and supplements too. They even have a little area that’s kind of like a duty free, with basically all the most popular cosmetics, perfumes, and whatever that people buy on daigou.
I’m Comin' Back
This was my first trip to Sam’s, ever. I was skeptical about the membership system. Why should I pay to go to a supermarket? There’s like eight supermarkets on my block.
I get it now though.
They make their money on memberships, not the margins on goods. Once you get that membership, you get a curated section of high-quality goods and great prices. The concept of bulk buying means there's less packaing which also translates to more savings to the buyers. I don't have to worry about the quality, and waste a lot less plastic and a lot less time on my phone talking to Taobao shop staff. Next time I have a party, I’m ordering everything from Sam’s. And the next time I have a day off, I’m coming here for a staycation.
They are Opening a MONSTER Club in 2021
Hey you made it this far. Here’s some club opening info for you. The Sam’s I visited is about 15,000 square meters and feels gigantic. But currently up in Waigaoqiao, the Sam’s flagship shop is under construction to be a beastly 70,000 square meter palace of club shopping. More products, more X-Plus, more WeChat steps.
If you don't have a membership yet, go get one. It's less than 260 RMB for a whole year's access. Use this QR code to download the their APP: