I Shopped at Sam’s Club Today. Is That Okay?

sams-club10 years ago I experienced a defining moment with one of my roommates at the time. We’ll call him “Sid.”

Sid and I were driving to Sam’s Club to stock up on the types of things 22 year-old men stock up on: meat, toilet paper, pasta, and beer. Sid’s parents were Sam’s Club members, and he was still on their family plan or something like that.

We pulled into the Sam’s Club parking lot…and that’s when it happened. Instead of getting out of the car, we just sat there for a minute looking at the megastore.

Sid said, “What the hell are we doing here?”

I agreed. “Let’s get out of here.”

We turned around and drove to the local grocery store instead.

I’m not quite sure what prompted that moment or how we even knew what each other was talking about. Maybe we had been talking about the Walton family or the way Sam’s Club treated their employees or the idea the Walmart and Sam’s Club had decimated local stores around the country.

Whatever it was, it reached a critical mass in that parking lot, and we were done with Sam’s Club. I haven’t been there in 10 years. I’ve been to Walmart exactly 2 times during that span–once for socks that I felt guilty buying because they were so damn cheap (socks should not be that cheap!) and once because I was with someone else who needed to get something there.

However, my workplace is a Sam’s Club member. We’re a nonprofit, so we try to exercise good stewardship by spending as little as possible on the things we need, so we go to Sam’s Club. And thus today I found myself there with a coworker looking for a specific item.

While we were there, I discovered this about Sam’s Club: It makes you feel like this is your one chance to get all the things you need. I don’t think that’s just because I haven’t been there in so long. I think the store is structured to invoke that feeling.

Because of that, though I didn’t intend to buy anything, I did purchase a set of 3 non-stick frying pans that have been on my list for a while.

I’m glad I have the frying pans. I will put them to good use. But I don’t know how I feel about buying them from Sam’s Club. A big part of that is lack of information–I honestly don’t know how to feel about Sam’s Club and Walmart now. They employ a lot of people, but do they treat those employees fairly now? Are they a generous company? I admire efficient capitalism, but it’s also important to me that everyone touched by the company are treated fairly. Is that the case for everyone that impacts the Sam’s Club supply chain? The farmers, the truckers, the factory workers?

I don’t know these answers, but I thought some readers might. And maybe you have some opinions to share about Sam’s Club and Walmart. I’d love to hear them in the comments.