Más o menos at Más Club

12/26/2012 11:22:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

HOUSTON—I finally got a chance to stop by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Más Club warehouse store.

The pilot store, which opened in August 2009, is a traditional club store like the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s Sam’s Club, with a Hispanic twist. The Houston market has some strong competition in the ethnic grocer field, though, with hometown favorite Fiesta, San Antonio-based H.E. Butt’s HEB, Mi Tienda and Joe V’s Smart Shop banners and a varied contingent of other Hispanic groceries.

click image to zoommas club walmart produce departmentPamela RiemenschneiderThe produce department at Walmart's Mas Club concept doesn't live up to the fiesta image from most Hispanic supermarkets I visit.

500">A membership is less expensive than Sam’s, $30 compared to $40 — considerably less than Costco’s $55 annual membership fee.

While there were the standard electronics and bulk dry grocery items you’d find at a traditional Sam’s Club, this store had some interesting differences, particularly in produce.

For one, you could buy produce items from bulk displays, and I’m not talking bulk quantities. You could buy one head of garlic, one mango, one papaya or one bunch of cilantro, which is a major change from most club stores where you’d have to buy by the case.

The product mix was heavy to Hispanic items, of course, with tomatillos, cactus, dry hot peppers, roots, squashes and the like, but there were also some standards like fresh-cut fruit, kiwifruit, grapes and bagged lettuce.

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I was surprised to see the prices weren’t that cheap. I’m not going to get excited about 28-cent cilantro bunches, I doubt your average bargain shopper would, either.

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