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When All Is Said and Dunn: Duel Memberist

By Bill Dunn


Most of us have a membership at one of the two major warehouse stores, Sam’s Club or Costco. I say most of us based on the absurdly long lines and ridiculous parking we are faced with every time we go there. I have been a member of both for many years. It is a blessing, curse, and sometimes a necessity.

While they are competitors, at times I feel like they are working together to force you into the world of duel membership. Most conspiracy theorists believe this to be true and have written major dissertations on it. They are the same people who will talk your ear off about the magic bullet, the fake landing on the moon, and the non-existence of global warming. Not really, but I thought it sounded good.

My reason for being a “Duel Memberist” is simple and ascribes to the above mentioned conspiracy. While they do carry many of the same products, there are things that I want that one carries and the other does not. Sure that justifies the need for both, but when they start playing games with the products you expect to be there, it becomes aggravating.

Personally, I find myself going to Sam’s Club more often. It is geographically more desirable and for most products the prices are better. Costco is more “as the need arises.” Based on recent developments at Sam’s, I may have to re-evaluate that balance.

Lately Sam’s purchasing and merchandising departments have started wreaking havoc with my time and shopping trips there. Costco does it as well; but not as frequently. After my last trip to Sam’s, though, they finally have pushed me over the edge.

Over the last few months Sam’s has been eliminating products that they have carried for years and I expect to be there when I make the trip. The last straw came when I went to buy the first item on my list, a specific brand of hormone-free milk called Horizon. It has been there since I was first made aware of its existence years ago. Then out of the blue, poof, it was gone. Replaced with an off-brand of organic milk that I have never heard of and that I couldn’t tell if it was hormone free or not. It was also insanely priced. I just wanted to by some milk, not the entire cow or stock in the dairy!

Without getting into specifics, that wasn’t the only item missing during this trip and by the time I was checking out, with only half of the things that were on my list, I was fuming. Unfortunately the checker chose to ask the wrong question, “So did you find everything okay Mr. Dunn?” After my negative and highly irritated response I’m sure she didn’t ask that question for the rest of the day.

So what this means is that I will be going to Costco on my way home from work one day this week. That store is in Alhambra which makes getting there no easy feat. As anyone who lives in the San Gabriel Valley will tell you, driving through Alhambra is like traveling to the 7th circle of Hell. It is the place where all of the worst drivers on the planet go to mingle.

At least once I get there I know that I will find the things that I couldn’t find at Sam’s. I will pay a little more for them and it will take me longer to park and check out, but at least I will have the goods. That is, if I can find the products.

What I mean by that is that the one shared factor at both places is that their merchandising directors must be direct descendants of the Marquis de Sade. The way that they compulsively move products around the store leads to shear torture for their customers and (from what I am told) the employees who are charged with restocking the shelves.

Nothing makes customers more infuriated than to be forced to wander aimlessly around the store searching for something that has been moved from the spot it has been for years because of … who knows why? And, to be perfectly blunt, who cares? Just stop doing it. Newsflash: Most people don’t like change.

Maybe I am asking too much. I’m only the customer. A customer who is paying for the privilege of shopping at your store, so my needs and desires are probably lower on the totem pole than those of your purchasing and merchandising departments.

Or maybe I am just crying over split milk.

Bill Dunn has been a published opinion columnist for 15 years. Any comments can be sent to either our exalted editor at or to Bill directly at You can also find Bill on Facebook at:


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