Shopping the Discount Retailers

© 2001, has evaluated a few of the budget-friendly big-box stores and posted their picks on the best

© 2001, has evaluated a few of the budget-friendly big-box stores and posted their picks on the best and worst deals at each. Here are their suggestions.


What to Buy:

  1. Mid-priced consumer electronics. With great prices on goods from reputable manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Canon, and Nikon, this is the place to pick up a high-def TV or a digital camera.
  2. Smart phones. All of the major brands from each of the nation’s four largest carriers are under one roof, so it’s easier to comparison shop here than at the AT&T or Verizon store. Plus, the prices are competitive.
  3. Coffee. The retail giant now offers fair-trade coffee, and while it’s slightly more expensive than super market brands, it tastes better, and its higher price ensures the farmers who grow it a living wage.

See more great Wal-Mart deals at

Find out what not to buy at Wal-Mart.


What to Buy:

  1. The Kindle. Unlike at, you can try out the nifty e-book reader here before you buy it, and do a side-by-side comparison to the Sony digital reader, too.
  2. Green cleaning products. You’ll find more Method products here than at any other big-box store, along with offerings from Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation and other eco-friendly lines.
  3. Groceries. Target’s recent expansion into this area means you’ll find nearly 70% of what’s sold at typical supermarkets, but for 10-20% less. Things like granola bars and juice can be even bigger bargains.

See more great Target deals at

Find out what not to buy at Target.


What to buy:

  1. Wine. The Kirkland house brand is not bad, say the experts. And because Costco sells such huge quantities, they can afford to charge just $20 a bottle for what would retail at a wine shop for $30. Other labels are worth a look, too, Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine tells He particularly likes the Lot 200 Cameron Hughes 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($28 a bottle)
  2. Eyeglasses. A survey conducted by Consumer Reports found that people preferred shopping at Costco for eyeglasses over any other source, including large chains and private doctors’ offices. The main reason? The price. A pair here costs about $157, while the average elsewhere ranges from $211-$228.
  3. Olive oil. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil may be the best-kept secret in the store. At $9.99 for 1.5 liters, it’s roughly half the cost of the well-known Bertolli brand, yet, according to at least one independent study, it’s much better—comparable, in fact, to brands that sell for as much as five times the price.

See more great Costco deals at

Find out what not to buy at Costco.

Wondering how to shop at Trader Joe’s? Check out’s lists of
what to buy and what not to buy.


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Originally Published in Reader's Digest