Costco vs Walmart

ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 5, 2013
1,492
361
Oregon, USA
I've seen Costco held up as model of how things should be done. And Ive seen Walmart held up as a model of how things shouldn't be done. But thinking it through, the two stores are actually quite similar. Low prices, big concrete building, large quantities, food, sundries, electronics, automotive. So if they are selling the same kinds of things in largely the same way, how can they be so different?
 

SLC Flyfishing

Suspended
Nov 19, 2007
1,486
1,639
Portland, OR
I've seen Costco held up as model of how things should be done. And Ive seen Walmart held up as a model of how things shouldn't be done. But thinking it through, the two stores are actually quite similar. Low prices, big concrete building, large quantities, food, sundries, electronics, automotive. So if they are selling the same kinds of things in largely the same way, how can they be so different?
For me it's about the way they treat their employees which is night and day different.
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
9,218
1,584
I've seen Costco held up as model of how things should be done. And Ive seen Walmart held up as a model of how things shouldn't be done. But thinking it through, the two stores are actually quite similar. Low prices, big concrete building, large quantities, food, sundries, electronics, automotive. So if they are selling the same kinds of things in largely the same way, how can they be so different?
I have worked for both and I can assure you costco is vastly different.

Staff wise pay and benefits costco is a big win.

Stock quality and price again costco win
 

Southern Dad

macrumors 68000
May 23, 2010
1,532
547
Shady Dale, Georgia
Costco with its 126,929 full and part time employees in its 649 warehouse stores across the USA versus Walmart 1.4 million employees. Huge differences. No one is ever forced to work for Walmart. As a matter of face, they apply for it. The interview for it and ask for it. As long as people continue to fill the open positions why should Walmart pay more or provide better benefits?

Walmart does not exist for the customers or employees. It exists for the stockholders.
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
6,255
1,063
Politics aside, Costco has a much better atmosphere to shop at.
Unless you go on the weekend. It's a freaking madhouse during the weekend and everyone's IQ seems to drop 100 points and lose their common sense.

Two weeks ago I went to Costco on a Saturday. Finding parking is tough so it makes everyone desperate to find one. There was space I can't really describe what it was it was almost like a spot for a motorcycle with a cement parking stop going parallel with the paint lines. This person in a BMW 5 series comes up and tries to get into the spot which is clearly not meant for a car. She drives over the cement stop scrapping the right side of the car.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Politics aside, Costco has a much better atmosphere to shop at.
Agreed.

To shop at? Lets compare

Wal Mart:

Dirty
Understaffed
Many things are actually overpriced in comparison to Costco
It's full of Wal mart people
Many goods are bottom of the barrel
There is a lack of workers on the floor to assist you in finding anything
They do not offer any high quality products nor quality food.
Any type of prepared food or eatery is AWFUL.
It is not as cheap as you think.
Workers are unhelpful and apathetic, probably due to hours being cut and awful wages.
You can tell their idea of selling is " throwing random crap at the wall and see what sticks "
They NEVER have enough registers open, I assume to cut labor costs.

Costco:

Clean
Well Maintained
Logical Layout
Smaller selection of goods, but the goods being sold tend to be much nicer, Costco only sells around 4500 products at a time, compared to Wal marts 125,000. So even if it is Chinese made goods, only the better ones ever get into Costco
Even counting in membership, Costco often beats Wal mart at pricing
Costco has a HUGE selection of fresh produce and high quality meats, while I normally don't buy them, expect during Winter ( many farmers markets and local farms close in the winter here in NY ), but I can tell its a step above Wal Mart offerings
The prepared food section is awesome, so are those 1.50 hotdogs ;)
The workers are all over the floor and know where items are, and generally know a lot about said items.
The workers tend to be much nicer and happier, because they are paid very good wages, wages I should mention, many claim are " unprofitable ", but Costco is one of the most profitable retailers out there.

Costco also has a VERY different Corperate culture than most companies, as evidenced in the " Costco Effect ", Costco likes to think " how cheap can I sell this product? " Rather than someone like Wal Mart who thinks " how high can I go with this? "

I am not a fan of big box stores, but if I have to go to one, its Costco. At least they pay a living wage with benefits, with enrages wall street to know end ;)

Their store brand " Kirkland " is also awesome, they put so much work into everything that no one can tell the different between Kirkland and major brands.
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
1,100
1,293
Costco with its 126,929 full and part time employees in its 649 warehouse stores across the USA versus Walmart 1.4 million employees. Huge differences. No one is ever forced to work for Walmart. As a matter of face, they apply for it. The interview for it and ask for it. As long as people continue to fill the open positions why should Walmart pay more or provide better benefits?
It isn't much of a choice if Walmart is the only employer hiring in your county.

Walmart does not exist for the customers or employees. It exists for the stockholders.
This is the Milton Friedman "corporations should be sociopathic" theory (of corporations).

Milton Friedman and others have argued that a corporation's purpose is to maximize returns to its shareholders, and that since only people can have social responsibilities, corporations are only responsible to their shareholders and not to society as a whole. Although they accept that corporations should obey the laws of the countries within which they work, they assert that corporations have no other obligation to society. Some people perceive CSR as incongruent with the very nature and purpose of business, and indeed a hindrance to free trade. Those who assert that CSR is contrasting with capitalism and are in favor of the free market argue that improvements in health, longevity and/or infant mortality have been created by economic growth attributed to free enterprise.[56]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility#Nature_of_business

This is the stupidist idea Friedman ever had. He should have stuck to monetary theory/history, where he made significant contributions. But, since we are stuck with it now, the only thing to do is regulate corporations into behaving better-- there is no other option.



As for shopping -- my perception is that Costco employees are much happier to be there than WalMart employees. As a consumer, if faced with such a choice, my bias is to shop at the place where the employees seem happier to be working there.
 
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yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
Unless you go on the weekend. It's a freaking madhouse during the weekend and everyone's IQ seems to drop 100 points and lose their common sense.
Yep, my experience too. There are 2 Costcos to serve the STL area (as opposed to a dozen or so Sams) so they are always packed. And all of the shoppers there are dumber than me :p
 

turtle777

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2004
678
15
So if they are selling the same kinds of things in largely the same way, how can they be so different?
Your premise is wrong.

They

* neither sell the same kind of things (Walmart seeks small quantities, Costco by and large larger quantities)
* nor sell the same quality of goods
* nor sell the same selection of items
* nor sell the same way (Costco being a club with membership fees)

-t
 

McGiord

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2003
4,522
286
Dark Castle
I've seen Costco held up as model of how things should be done. And Ive seen Walmart held up as a model of how things shouldn't be done. But thinking it through, the two stores are actually quite similar. Low prices, big concrete building, large quantities, food, sundries, electronics, automotive. So if they are selling the same kinds of things in largely the same way, how can they be so different?
They are, because to buy at Costco you have to pay for membership. I guess you mean Sam's Club. Anyway, Costo provides better quality products.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Costco also charges $55 per year to shop there where Walmart does not.
The savings you get at Costco easily make up for that 55 dollars a month.

55 dollars may has well be 1 cent.

Hell, I bought a new couch at Costco last year for my man cave, Macy's price was 1,900 dollars. Costco sold it for 850 dollars. My membership just paid for itself for decades.
 

JoeG4

macrumors 68030
Jan 11, 2002
2,663
167
Bay Area, Ca.
Costco doesn't have enough stores and they tend to close too early, and their no bag policy is ridiculous. Their policy of only accepting american express is ridiculous, and their membership is pretty expensive.

I can't imagine who in the right mind buys gas at costco because the lines always look like something out of a textbook about the oil embargo crisis in the 70s.

Walmart is the epitome of cheap though, I am lucky right now to live by a walmart that doesn't have that many customers, so their service is pretty good and the lines are very short, but it's still a walmart. They don't do anything "nice" everything is about the bottom line and keeping things as cheap as possible...

but for who? The prices aren't even that great.

But the same can be said about Costco. Almost everything is priced the same as say, safeway, but the packages are bigger so you pay proportionally more.

I do think Costco is a good company and love their model of paying employees, but I wish they had more stores and weren't so centered around herding cattle .. err. customers through huge lines and early hours
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Costco doesn't have enough stores and they tend to close too early, and their no bag policy is ridiculous. Their policy of only accepting american express is ridiculous, and their membership is pretty expensive.
Bring your own bags, I've been doing it everywhere I go, reuseable bags are bigger, less likely to break, and don't create tons of plastic waste, I also actually really enjoy how they let you use excess shipping boxes, makes it easy to carry lots of stuff at the same time. 55 dollars? That is literally pocket change.

Do what I do, stop at the ATM ( every store has one in the front ), and just take out like a grand, and you will be fine. Or just write a check.

I can't imagine who in the right mind buys gas at costco because the lines always look like something out of a textbook about the oil embargo crisis in the 70s.
I personally don't buy gas at Costco at all, a local station sells Ethanol Free Fuel, that's what I buy. I don't want corn in my sports cars. The Truck? Costco gas is fine, otherwise nope.

Walmart is the epitome of cheap though, I am lucky right now to live by a walmart that doesn't have that many customers, so their service is pretty good and the lines are very short, but it's still a walmart. They don't do anything "nice" everything is about the bottom line and keeping things as cheap as possible...
Just wait until that Wal Mart gets more popular and the Wal mart people come into it.

but for who? The prices aren't even that great.
At Costco? They beat Wal Mart prices pretty often, they have a policy of marking nothing up by more than 15%. They also don't carry super low end stuff like Wal Mart.

But the same can be said about Costco. Almost everything is priced the same as say, safeway, but the packages are bigger so you pay proportionally more.
Depends, Costco beats most chains in prices, but they do sell in bulk, I tend to only buy non perishables at Costco, or if I am gonna make a big donation to chairty, I'll buy tons of meat, dairy and produce and all that, take what I'll use for a week, and give the rest to food banks and soup kitchens. When you factor in the bulk, Costco is the better deal. I also buy lots of electronics at Costco, they even beat Amazon sometimes in price.

I do think Costco is a good company and love their model of paying employees, but I wish they had more stores and weren't so centered around herding cattle .. err. customers through huge lines and early hours
They don't herd people any more than any other Big Box store, what I do like about Costco is their incredible pay and benefits to their workers, they also have a commitment to not stock crappy goods, take a watch at the " Costco Effect " I think it is called, Costco has a commitment to store brand quality and only stocking well made goods, that most big box stores don't have. The Kirkland brand is pretty well thought out, and most of kirkland is US made.

Early hours? They are open till 9 every day, and 6PM on Sundays, seems good enough for me. I don't plan on buying 1,000 dollars worth of stuff when I'm drunk at a Wal Mart at 3AM, and yes in college I have been drunk/high at the Tallahassee East Wal Mart buying chips and fried chicken at 3AM ;)
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
C
Walmart does not exist for the customers or employees. It exists for the stockholders.
While they may be true, is does not change the fact that Wal Mart caters to the bottom of the barrel, and this is clear to see with dirty stores, cheap products and a general lack of attention to detail or customer service.
 
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alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,654
122
costco is not that cheap and their selection sucks. when i was a member i used to buy this one brand of cereal they have at whole foods, but costco only had one flavor of it. out of at least a dozen that the company makes.

after a while it was a PITA to drive there, pay for parking, spend like 3 hours in the store and always come out paying more than i wanted to. and then i still had to go to the local store at least once a week to buy some stuff. their fruit and veggie containers are so big, they would spoil before i finished eating it.

wal mart might pay people less but they have a higher cost of operation because they stock a lot more items. i rarely go to wal mart, but the ones i've been to are clean and the people have been a lot more helpful than costco where there is rarely anyone on the floor to help customers. they are always in forklifts stocking the shelves
 

turtle777

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2004
678
15
Oh my, where to start...

Costco doesn't have enough stores and they tend to close too early
Sure, they won't open stores in unprofitable areas.

Also, they carefully select areas that have the right target demographic mix.

Hours: well, yes, sometimes I wish they were open longer on Sundays, but hey, their business model obviously works quite well with those limited hours,

Plus, not having to work late is a plus for their employees.

and their no bag policy is ridiculous.
No, it's not. You get free boxes. If you need plastic bags, just keep them in the trunk of your car. There fixed.
And you did the environment a favor.

Their policy of only accepting american express is ridiculous
No, it's not. Amex is the best credit card out there, bar none.

and their membership is pretty expensive.
$55 per year is expensive ? Seriously, if you just buy a six pack of beer per month, Costco is not the right place. If you buy larger quantities of stuff, the $55 pays for itself easily in a few months.

-t

----------

costco ... pay for parking
I have never seen a Costco w/o free parking. And I have been to quite a few.

Where are you at ?

-t
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,654
122
NYC i have a choice of a few Costco's
the newest one is in a basement of a new mall where i have to pay for parking. it's 10 minutes from me

the others are all free parking but either far away or a lot of traffic/traffic lights on the way to eat up the gas

and the prices aren't that cheap. i can shop at whole foods and not spend that much more per month on food than what i spent at costco and the quality is way better. at least at whole foods their ground beef won't break your teeth when you try to bite into it

like 10 years ago when i used to buy a lot of meat at costco i would spend an hour dividing it up into smaller freezer bags because it would get ruined in those huge packages
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 5, 2013
1,492
361
Oregon, USA
Your premise is wrong.
I tried to write the sentence as open as possible (non declarative) to allow for difference of opinions. Overall though, my premise is: if Costco can do so well by their owners, employees, and customers, what is keeping Walmart from doing the same?

They are, because to buy at Costco you have to pay for membership. I guess you mean Sam's Club. Anyway, Costo provides better quality products.
I think of it like Amazon Prime, the cost is offset by the savings. Certain levels also pay 1% back, such that it literally pays for itself (with regular use).

Costco doesn't have enough stores and they tend to close too early, and their no bag policy is ridiculous. Their policy of only accepting american express is ridiculous, and their membership is pretty expensive.
A number of their policies bothered me initially, but the more I thought about them, accepted them as measures that would save me money. Credit card fees cost money, bags cost money, weird hours cost money.

The hardest thing for me (as has been mentioned) is the quantities on perishables. They have some of the best ground beef anywhere, and you cant buy it unless you take up half your freezer or are hosting a regional Boy Scout picnic!
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
costco is not that cheap and their selection sucks. when i was a member i used to buy this one brand of cereal they have at whole foods, but costco only had one flavor of it. out of at least a dozen that the company makes.
Costco beats all their competitors by nearly 30% in price.

Costco only stocks the higher end brands, no low end brands like Wal Mart.

pay for parking
Unless you are talking about the one in Queens, not true. That is the only Costco I can think of that has paid parking.

heir fruit and veggie containers are so big, they would spoil before i finished eating it.
You clearly are not the kind of customer who should be at Costco, unless you want to buy in Bulk, stay away, they aren't for you.

wal mart might pay people less but they have a higher cost of operation because they stock a lot more items
Wal Mart also stocks the bottoms of the barrel items.

i rarely go to wal mart, but the ones i've been to are clean and the people have been a lot more helpful than costco where there is rarely anyone on the floor to help customers. they are always in forklifts stocking the shelves
Maybe you got lucky where you live, but Costco ranks much higher than Wal Mart in Customer service all around the nation.

----------

I tried to write the sentence as open as possible (non declarative) to allow for difference of opinions. Overall though, my premise is: if Costco can do so well by their owners, employees, and customers, what is keeping Walmart from doing the same?
Watch the Costco Crave.

Costco as a company isn't even interested in hiring your typical managers or businessmen or executives, they are all turned down. The company mainly hires from internally.

Costco and Wal Mart are very different, Costco has strong culture of responsibility, value, morals, and high quality goods, Wal Mart is all about selling low, and paying low. Wal Mart does not offer quailty products, just the cheapest.

Can people shop there if they want? Sure. But this is a fact, I am above Wal Mart. I refuse to spend my money at dirty stores staffed by underpaid workers and owned by spoiled brats.

Wal Mart was not always this bad, tho once Sam Walton Died, the spoiled kids took over. Ruined it.

A number of their policies bothered me initially, but the more I thought about them, accepted them as measures that would save me money. Credit card fees cost money, bags cost money, weird hours cost money.
Costco mainly profits on your membership and a tiny amount on products, they have to save money where they can, I actually like the boxes more than bags, less change of breaking.

The hardest thing for me (as has been mentioned) is the quantities on perishables. They have some of the best ground beef anywhere, and you cant buy it unless you take up half your freezer or are hosting a regional Boy Scout picnic!
At least at the one I go to, the meat department will cut up a smaller batch if you just ask.

I also enjoy how the new CEO, follows how the orignal founder did things, visits every store he can every year, talks to the workers, talks to the customers face to face, finds out what they want, what they want different and all that, it brings a personal touch to Costco that a company like Crap - Mart just cannot match.

But what do you expect from the people who run Wal Mart? Spoiled kids who never worked a day in their life, had everything handed to them. Sam Walton would be disgusted at the current state of Wal mart.

Costco has no PR department, they have no handlers for their CEO, and no advertising department. They don't advertise, they don't promote " sales ", yet people are lining up to get in, and vendors line up to get into Costco, while many vendors avoid Wal Mart.
 
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LIVEFRMNYC

macrumors 604
Oct 27, 2009
7,433
8,606
NYC i have a choice of a few Costco's
the newest one is in a basement of a new mall where i have to pay for parking. it's 10 minutes from me

the others are all free parking but either far away or a lot of traffic/traffic lights on the way to eat up the gas

and the prices aren't that cheap. i can shop at whole foods and not spend that much more per month on food than what i spent at costco and the quality is way better. at least at whole foods their ground beef won't break your teeth when you try to bite into it

like 10 years ago when i used to buy a lot of meat at costco i would spend an hour dividing it up into smaller freezer bags because it would get ruined in those huge packages
Are you talking about the one next to Lefrak City in Queens? I never been to that one, and it's pretty close to me. But of course I would expect to pay for parking in that congested area, which Costco basically shares with other businesses.

I'm not a big shopper of food items at Costco, but I always get the best deals on things like TVs.