Warehouse Club Stores in the Philippines

warehouse club storesI’m familiar with warehouse club stores, even if I don’t want to be. My first experience with one was unusual, to say the least.

My first 13 years of life were in a small city. The biggest grocery store was Safeway, and I can’t even remember the name of the biggest department store. There was only one franchise store in the city that I can remember, Dairy Queen. And it only served ice cream. Times have definitely changed.

Warehouse Club Stores in the United States

My first experience was a Gemco somewhere near the base I was stationed at in San Diego, California. Two of us went there and as we were trying to enter the store, the security guard asked to see our membership cards. It took a few minutes of explanations to get us to understand what we were dealing with. Luckily, membership cards were only a dollar, and we could get them somewhere near the front of the store.

That was the first and the last time I paid for a membership card. Other warehouse club stores have popped up since then, including Sam’s Club, but I’ve never been a member. My wife, Josie, was a member of that particular store for several years.

Today’s Costco is the second-largest retailer in America, after Walmart. It’s a warehouse club that neither of us have ever been a member of. When my family lived in Phoenix, we did most of our grocery shopping at the nearby Air Force base. We’ve been inside a few Costco stores, but we were always accompanying a friend or relative.

I remember my father (R.I.P.) talking about going to Price Club, which was at least an hour’s trip from his home to somewhere in metro Phoenix. It’s now a Costco.

The Philippines

As far as I know, S&R Membership Shopping is the only warehouse club store in the Philippines. According to the Wikipedia page for it, there are 22 branches. I can’t tell you more about them because their website is “coming soon”. I know the closest branch to us is in San Fernando in the Pampanga province (about an hour away). Josie and I plan to go there someday, but we’re not in a hurry.

There are stores in the Philippines that are kind of like the warehouse club stores, but they’re not membership stores. Puregold, the big store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, is one of them. Coincidentally, Puregold became the sole owner of S&R Membership Shopping in 2012. That means there will never be anything more than an S&R pizza place at the freeport zone.

Filipino businesses tend to copy each other. When one does well, like any one of the various SM and Ayala malls, it stands out. If S&R continues to pick up steam, other warehouse club stores are bound to pop up.

Image by Judgefloro, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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