Author Topic: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?  (Read 8528 times)

lpep

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Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« on: May 28, 2015, 01:46:33 AM »
Here's the story:

I'll be spending a few low-budget months at my family's cottage in Muskoka this summer, leaving from the USA. I'm trying to save money on food since it tends to be more expensive in Canada, so I was thinking of getting some pantry staples like flour, sugar, beans, canned tomatoes, etc. at a Costco in either Pittsburgh (the closest American location to the border for those cheaper American prices--is that still true with how strong the dollar is?) or in Barrie (1 hour from the cottage), where I'll definitely be stopping for cold stuff.

Then, I discovered Bulk Barn. There's one right in town next to the grocery store we usually go to (the very expensive but many potato chip-flavoured Robinson's Independent), but I've never been inside and don't know everything they have.

Here's where I need you, oh Canadian Mustachians: is Bulk Barn awesome enough that I can skip the Costco run in Pittsburgh? Can you give me an idea of prices for things like coffee, spices, dried beans, peanut butter, tortillas (if they have these things)? Thank you!!

KMMK

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2015, 05:25:39 AM »
In my experience Bulk Barn is fairly expensive. Same company as Superstore but with higher prices. Though I haven't price checked extensively. So I'd go to the Costco if those are your two choices and just go to Bulk barn for small quantity things. They are really good for things like spices - just buy tiny quantities and I wouldn't bring little baggies back across the border. Tortillas are hard to get cheaply in a lot of Canada.

MLKnits

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2015, 05:40:47 AM »
Maybe the Bulk Barn near me isn't representative, but I wouldn't compare it to Costco at all. Costco is everything, but in bulk; Bulk Barn is mostly bins of dry goods (spices, baking staples, but also a lot of off-brand candy. A LOT. And random "this is supposedly superfood, so please pay $50/oz for it!!!" kinds of beans/berries/grains/yada yada). Basically, it's like the "bulk" section of a grocery store, but bigger--not like a warehouse store.

GuitarStv

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2015, 06:21:54 AM »
Bulk barn isn't particularly cheap for most things, I don't bother shopping there any more for that reason.  Costco can be very cheap if you watch the pricing (it fluctuates from week to week).

okits

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2015, 07:09:24 AM »
I think Costco (and probably the U.S. one, because even after currency exchange I expect Canadian prices are higher, due to transport costs and less competition.)  Bulk Barn's advertising claim is pretty accurate: you save money because you buy things in the exact quantity you want )not because their overall prices are lower.) If you want half a tablespoon of pink Himalayan sea salt it's great, and I've also saved money buying uncommon baking ingredients there, but that's about it. 

Avoid the junk food aisles completely.

PharmaStache

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2015, 07:59:42 AM »
I think Costco (and probably the U.S. one, because even after currency exchange I expect Canadian prices are higher, due to transport costs and less competition.)  Bulk Barn's advertising claim is pretty accurate: you save money because you buy things in the exact quantity you want )not because their overall prices are lower.) If you want half a tablespoon of pink Himalayan sea salt it's great, and I've also saved money buying uncommon baking ingredients there, but that's about it. 

Avoid the junk food aisles completely.

This is exactly what I use BB for as well.  Exact (usually tiny) amounts of weird ingreidents, especially spices and other stuff for baking.  And chocolate covered cashews.

PtboEliz

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Re: Calling all Canadians! Bulk Barn or Costco?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2015, 08:04:47 AM »
I agree with others - Costco is likely a better bet (not sure how US v. Cda fares with the much stronger USD at the moment). Bulk Barn isn't cheap, though they do have a $3 coupon for $10> purchases (if you have multiple people you can use multiple coupons) - if combined with flyer sales you can get a bargain. So you'd be ahead there probably for spices and the like where you don't want huge quantities. I think everything on your list would be avail at BB (maybe not coffee?).

It's kinda fun to print off more coupons than you can use and give them to other shoppers :)
http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en-ca/coupons.html

Have a lovely time at the cottage!