Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts on Sam's Club, and a Look at My Stack-of-Legos Disguise--Days 96-104

Have you ever been in a Sam's Club? If there's anyplace that exemplifies America's appetite for consumer goods and lots of them, it's a warehouse store like Sam's or Costco.

The first time I went into a Sam's Club, I was overwhelmed with all the STUFF. And it wasn't just that the warehouse was vast and packed to the gills with everything a convenience store owner or Kate Gosselein could want (okay, she's probably more of a Dean & DeLuca person now), it was that plastic-wrapped pallets towered above me, offering the promise of an endless supply of everything--and possibly eternal life--should the zombie invasion occur at just that moment. Birds make their homes in warehouse stores. You can find giant boxes of Mozzarella sticks or assorted Cheesecake Factory cheesecake slices. Or 500 tiny containers of coffee creamer in one box. Or a mattress. Or a ginormous bag of broccoli. Or a sixty pound bag of sugar and enough Crisco to power a space shuttle. Or extra-large boxes of adult or baby diapers. Or faux Uggs. Or one of those big, ugly janitorial brooms for your garage with a ginormous box of tee-shirt rags to go with it. Or a diamond necklace. Or Lipitor. Or Chateau Neuf du Pape. Or a container of melt-in-your-mouth hot ribs that you can take right out to your car and eat with  a Cherry Icee. Oh, and you can have spankin' new tires put on your car while you're sampling shrimp, stir-fry, popcorn, yumberry juice or ham biscuits served to you by (mostly) friendly ladies in hairnets. Phew!

If the word bourgeois leaves your lips with a note of utter scorn, Sam's Club is not for you. That's why I think so many people don't ever want to go into one and tend to bemoan the stores' existence. As an unapologetic capitalist and a birth-certificate-certified member of the bourgeoisie, I totally get the place.

Reading up on Sam's and Costco on Wikipedia, I learned that Costco is only just now beginning to accept food stamp benefits. It think it's a good thing, but if I were in the unfortunate position of having to rely on government food benefits, a warehouse store would be the last place I would go. It would be too depressing to have to walk by the pricey patio furniture and rows and rows of bestselling books and $2000 Go Karts to get to the meat and produce department.

No, Sam's Club--which originally opened to serve small businesses--is targeted happily to institutions and prosperous folks who can afford to buy in bulk and have the cash or credit to pay for it. I see a lot of married couples in Sam's buying that patio furniture or train sets for their grandchildren or a cart full of wine and cheese.  When they're done shopping, the get into their Avalons or Dodge Rams or Cadillacs (not usually Escalades) or tasteful Mercedes.

It's the bourgeois in me that gets a little thrill every time I go into a Sam's Club. There's always something there that I want, or can use. My Christmas list was pretty much all Sam's Club this year: the 50 piece Rubbermaid Locking Lids storage set; a lidded set of Pyrex bowls and pans; an Oster blender; wool socks; chocolate (if you haven't eaten an entire 2 pound bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, you haven't lived--I have, and now the entire 2 pound bag surrounds my hips). I already own every cotton sweater they're selling this year in every color.

I confess that I probably wouldn't have done the WM project if I hadn't decided to include Sam's Club. The clothing there isn't exactly designer--Sure, a few of the pieces have  CK or RL labels on them, but they're few and far between and less expensive versions of items that might be sold at Macy's. But it was that middle-class comfort I wanted to hold onto--just a little. Before September, I bought very few clothes there. Maybe a top I thought was fairly fashionable, or a turtleneck or two. Basics. All I can say is thank goodness for Sam's when it comes to this project. Without it, my entire winter would be spent in acrylic and cotton/poly blouses layered upon one another for warmth. (Let's save that for another post. But I just don't understand why WM doesn't bother to make comfortable natural fibers like cotton--substantial knit, please--or wool accessible to the masses.)

Do you shop warehouse stores? Opposed on principle?

And so to catch up a little....

Day 96.

Ugh. Total flu day. I think I'm wearing my "I Love My Dog" shirt because I felt like a sick dog.

Norma Kamali Tee: $8; Sweater (Sam's): $13 (?); Jones NY Brown velour sweats (no I wasn't going out!): $15; F'Uggs (Sam's) $30  Total: $66

No pic for Day 97. Just picture me in a bathrobe and sweats. Or not.

Day 98. This may be one of those pictures that will illustrate what a bad idea this whole project was. I call it my OMG-I'm-A-Huge-Block-of-Stacked-Legos Look. Would be darling minus ten pounds.

Norma Kamali shirt: $10; Nine West Jeans (Sam's): $17; That Damn Necklace: $7: Earrings: $12

Day 99. More flu, but I had to go out. No comment from Vinny Barbarino. (Go look him up.)

Jacket (Sam's): $79; Faded Glory jeans: $15; RL cotton sweater: $21 (?--need to go back and look up prices); Faded Glory boots: $23    Total: $138

Day 100. More jammies.

Day 101. Christmas Eve! Had to get my act together for parental visit and church. Unfortunately, it was an acrylic act. Bleh.

White Stag sweater: $10; To the Max jeans: $17; To the Max blouse: $3 (clearance); scarf: $5; Earrings: $7; Earth Spirit shoes: $30   $72

Oh, and the crystal bowl vase my mom gave me for Christmas. I used it just a few days later when my sweetie brought me feel-better flowers.

Days 102 (Christmas--sweats, meatball subs, much hilarity, chocolate and Wii.) -- 104. Absolutely not camera-appropriate in any way.

Exhausted? That's enough for today, I think.

Congrats to Margy on snagging the fab purple Joan and David flats!

More soon. So glad you're here!


  1. heh...I spend 40+ hours a week at Sam's. Where else could I do floral design work with medical/dental insurance, 401k, profit sharing and stock option plan while living in the Ozarks?

    That said, I've been a card carrying Sam's Club member since the late 80's, but have only worked for them the past couple of years. In the current model, they provide the best produce & meat values I can find.

  2. I had hoped you'd drop in, Sally. :)
    Sam's definitely has the best meat of any commercial store I've shopped. Produce, too.

  3. We don't have Sam's, just Costco. I don't use it mostly because I don't have the space to store a case of toilet paper or those big boxes of Cheerios, even though I know it would be cost effective. Bridget and I, many years ago, went crazy there and ended up with 2 gallons of soy sauce and 5 pounds of pickles we never did get through! Other more organized moms I know plan their meals and shop Costco every week, artfully stacking their freezers with a magic I, so far, lack. Some day. . .

  4. You should see my picture of the day we had a lil' tornado hovering over the club. It was rather unsettling, to say the least. The thought of all those pallets of stuff being hurled around....

  5. I LOVE Sam's Club! I'm not a member, tho, and can't justify the expense when it's just me. I don't want to buy in bulk for just me... Altho I have thought about splitting a membership with Mom. It'd probably be cost effective to buy in bulk for 2 households... : )

    My favorite time at Sam's is the Taste of the Holidays event. Oh so much yummy goodness in one spot!!

  6. Maggie looked at the Sam's club pic and said, "What's all that junk doing there?"

  7. Hey beautiful,

    Hope you're feeling better! I had the evil swine (no shot because every flu shot I have ever had made me have the flu) and I'm sending all good wishes your way! I love the pictures in this one! I like Sam's Club because of the samples. Guilt free eating and I've only been chastised once for taking a snack from the wrong side of the barrier. Scandalous, I know, just like Anais Nin or something. :)

  8. Sweet Michelle--You're such a rebel! I am feeling better, thanks. Ready for the cough-cough part to be gone!

    Branda--Maggie is a very discriminating young woman. I think she'd be amazed in person, don't you?

    Carrie--If you and your mom shop together, you absolutely should. For the meat, alone!

    Sally--If you want to share it, contact me offline and I'll certainly post it here.

    Maggie--Freezer storage/planning is way beyond me, too. I was impressed when Teresa and I stopped to get Boardwalk tickets there. Love, love, love the soy sauce/pickle story!