Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bulk shopping in the Land of Smiles

When I am in Kalifornia, I love to shop at Costco.  But here in the land of smiles, we have something similar in a chain called Makro.  Its a warehouse type chain store that offers bulk quantities of major food brands at a discounted price.  Typical store sizes are 80,000 square feet up to around 100,000 square feet.  Stock is fairly extensive with package goods, drinks, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, bakery, and even a pharmacy.  The product mix is a lot different than the Costco stores in that the consumer products are generally of a lower price point and thus quality as well.  But you can still get decent prices on items like TVs, refrigerators, and office equipment.  You won't find too many top tier international brands, but what is offered is usually a locally made product or a decent quality imported brand.  

Its customers are primarily the small business owners in Thailand.  The businesses are usually started on limited capital investments and rely on daily turnover and smaller quantities of stock. Thus, Makro serves this need throughout the country.  In the country, you often see small shop owners in the villages make the trek to town in their pickup trucks to load up on inventory that they will sell locally. They make  money re-selling the goods locally to those who can't or won't make the trek into town.

The major difference is the customer mix.  Whereas Costco has almost entirely transformed from a business to business type of model to one where retail consumers make up 90+ percent of the business, Makro still has a significant share of B to B customers.  

Many small restaurants, food stalls, and other food related businesses buy what they need on a daily basis to keep inventories low and the ingredients fresh.  Thus the vaariety and depth of food related products in Makro are far superior to those at any Costco.

For others like myself, I like to buy in bulk to save money.  When I first discovered Makro many years ago, I was able to get a Makro Card though a business I had back then.  Now, there is no requirement to own a business and foreigners can get a daily pass or just apply for a membership card.  

Unlike the Costcos back in the States, Makro is strickly cash and carry.  You pay in cash and you do not get a bag or box.  That means you need to have your own bags and have a way to transport the goods back home.  For many short time tourists, this makes shopping there impractical, but for longer stay visitors, a trip to Makro can be quite a budget saver.

My haul from yesterday's trip to Makro

Anyway, I made my weekly and sometimes bi-week run to Makro yesterday to pick up some soy milk for Marina and some other provisions.  Prices are really good and about 1/3 the cost of Costco. Despite the lower prices, I do miss Costco for some of their higher end items and I especially miss their cheap lunches.  No hot dogs here for $1.50 and no big slices of pizza...but you can't have everything right?

Incidentally, the closest Makro to the reservation is the branch located in the Central Business District on Chong Nonsi Road, not far from the Chong Nonsi MRT station.  From the SkyTrain station there, you can take the BRT bus for a couple of stops and it will be on the right hand side of the street.

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