Eli5 why warehouse clubs sell only in bulk? , can’t the membership business model go with just retailing?

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Eli5 why warehouse clubs sell only in bulk? , can’t the membership business model go with just retailing?

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My guess would be warehouse clubs buy in bulk to get a volume discount and require their customers to buy in bulk so they can continue moving a lot more merchandise than selling single units.

Part of the price is for the labor of the people who work at the store. It takes the same amount of work from the stock clerk and checkout clerk to sell you 12 oz of ketchup or 60 oz of ketchup, if the 60 oz is packaged together.

The savings on labor are passed on as discounts.

In the 70s and 80s before the rise of the big box warehouse stores, there were membership coops who sold all sorts of things in typical retail quantities. When I was in high school, I worked for one of them and helped construct a warehouse building that served as a coop retain outlet.

It functioned very much like a Sam’s, but not entirely. You could buy non perishable foods, personal care products, travel packages, yard goods, heavy equipment, cars, and all sorts of things in between. Of course the big ticket items were bought out of a catalog and a coop of the coops got the price discounts that were passed on to the customers.

When the Costco type stores gained popularity with bulk items, it took away the pricing advantage of the coops and they died off. If they had survived, Amazon would have probably have killed them off.

Source: My mother was dating a man who was a VP of the club and I was curious on how it worked, so we had lots of conversations going to and from work.