Clear choice in Surprise: Costco or Sam’s?

Let the shopping club store wars begin in Surprise.

The two biggies, Costco and Sam’s Club, are now going head-to-head in the shopping battle for Surprise at a time when most other retail stores are floundering and crowds are scared to shop because of COVID-19 concerns.

Costco, 16385 W. Waddell Road, opened Sept. 24 just two miles south of Sam’s Club, 16573 W. Bell Road.

With both clubs charging a yearly membership fee, local shoppers now have to decide which one to pay for, if not both.

Terry Linkous of Sun City said he has a Sam’s Club membership but he won’t be renewing it now that Costco is open.

“Quite honestly, I call [Sam’s Club] Walmart with bigger packages,” Mr. Linkous said.

Mr. Linkous’ opinion seems to standard across Surprise.

The Surprise Independent took a poll of 270 Nextdoor users to find out which store they favored — and it was clear which one.

By far, a majority 53% of respondents said Costco was the better of the two, while only 14% favored Sam’s Club.

About one-third in the poll (31%) liked both, while only 2% responded liking neither.

Aracely Suarez of Bell West Ranch said she prefers Costco for two reasons.

“They are very customer-service oriented and have great quality on all products,” Ms. Suarez said. “Without any doubts, it’s Costco for me.”

Debbie Sniegowski of Mountain Vista Ranch said she has found each store has some things the other doesn’t. But she favors Costco’s meat and bakery department and clothes selection.

Janet Stanley of Surprise Legacy Parc favors Costco’s “great return policy.”

Anna Demarbiex of Goodyear said both stores have advantages, but she plans to be at Costco more.

“At certain times, it’s cheaper at Costco,” Ms. Demarbiex said.

She also said Sam’s Club doesn’t carry all the items her family likes, such as a Santa Fe Chicken salad her son loves but they can only find at Costco.

She also favors Costco over Sam’s Club for its toilet paper and paper towel selection.

Sun City Grand’s Tom Hartman said he’s looking forward to having both stores in Surprise.

“Costco has the edge for selection,” Mr. Hartman said. “Sam’s is closer for me, and it has the ‘scan-and-go’ application for smart phones, which is great and keeps me from waiting in line to check out.”

Stefani Spencer of Ashton Ranch said she isn’t sure which is better since she’s shopping at Costco for the time.

“It will be nice to do a comparison,” she said.

To Surprise Legacy Parc resident Charlynn Frantzve, Sam’s has a nicer store and she feels shopping there is “less hassle.”

“We cut up the Costco card years ago,” she said.

Karen Graves of Sun City Grand likes them both. She prefers Costco’s meat department, but said Sam’s Club has better produce and clothing options. She also likes that Sam’s Club isn’t as busy as Costco.

Bruce Cross of Bell West Ranch said he uses the curbside pickup at Sam’s Club.

Others aren’t impressed with Sam’s Club’s quality.

“Sam’s Club is still cheap stuff like Walmart,” said Chad Porter, a resident of Surprise Legacy Parc.

M.J. Johnson of Northwest Ranch thinks he’s put his finger on Sam’s Club’s problem.

“Sam’s can have one thing you like one day, and the next month they no longer carry it,” Mr. Johnson said. “That’s very discouraging.”

Consumer Reports magazine recently compared the two stores and picked Costco as the better selection of the two based on factors such as cleanliness, meat and produce quality, customer service, store-brand quality and prices of organic items.

The study also found Costco scored higher than Sam’s Club in jewelry, women’s and kids’ clothing and eyeglasses.

However, the typical Costco annual membership price is slightly higher. Costco has a couple of options. The cheapest one is $60 for the Gold Star level membership. For double that, a shopper can upgrade to Gold Star Executive for 2% annual cash back and other perks.

Similarly, Sam’s Club has two tiers but cheaper — $45 for the Club level and $100 for the Plus membership.

Editor’s Note: Jason Stone can be reached at [email protected]

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