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.
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 in West Phoenix, Arizona.
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. We were inside one once but if I remember correctly, we were there with a family friend. We did most of our grocery shopping at the nearby Air Force base.
I remember my father (R.I.P.) talking about going to Price Club, which was at least an hour’s trip from Coolidge to somewhere in metro Phoenix. It’s now a Costco.
As far as I know, S&R Membership Shopping is the only warehouse club store in the Philippines. There’s one near Olongapo (if you consider an hour away, after getting out of Olongapo as being near). It’s in San Fernando in the Pampanga province. Josie and I plan to go there someday.
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.
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in August 2017.