A new, large membership warehouse club recently opened in Medellín with good prices and a wide selection of imported items.
The PriceSmart membership warehouse club opened its first large warehouse club store in Medellín on November 24. The company invested approximately $20 million to open its newest warehouse club store.
I was able to visit the store the second day it was open and I was impressed.
What is PriceSmart?
PriceSmart is similar to a Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s Wholesale Club found in the U.S. It is also similar to the Makro found in Medellín but I believe the new PriceSmart store is larger than Makro.
PriceSmart is the largest membership warehouse club in Central America and the Carribbean with 36 stores. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California.
The company also has warehouse stores in Colombia located in Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali and Pereira. The company’s Bogotá store opened in October.
PriceSmart is planning to open two more warehouse stores in Colombia in the next 12-18 months, perhaps a second store in Bogotá as well as a second store in Medellín.
The company thinks that Medellín could eventually support three or four more stores if the company can find ideal locations.
The company also has over 30 additional warehouse stores located in Auba, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and U.S. Virgin Islands.
What Does PriceSmart Sell?
PriceSmart sells a wide range of products including electronics (televisions, cameras, video games, audio/visual equipment), automotive products, sports equipment, appliances, furniture, clothing and office equipment.
PriceSmart also sells grocery items in roughly half of the large warehouse store. The grocery items are typically in large, wholesale size packages.
You can find several grocery brands imported from the U.S. that I haven’t seen in other stores in Medellín. For example, some of the brands I saw included Pace Picante sauce, Ruffles potato chips, Butterball turkeys, Edwards Key Lime pies and Red Barron frozen pizzas.
What About Pricing at PriceSmart?
Warehouse club stores are able to keep prices low due to the no-frills format of the stores. When I was walking around the new PriceSmart warehouse store I overheard several Colombians saying, “tan barato” (so cheap).
I didn’t have much time in the store during my first visit but I did pick up a few grocery items with the following costs:
- 2-pack Pace Picante sauce (each 38 oz.) for 16,900 pesos ($7.82)
- Ruffles potato chips (15 oz. bag) for 10,900 pesos ($5.04)
- Vlasic dill pickles (46 oz.) for 6,900 pesos ($3.19)
I noticed several people buying televisions and checked the prices. The largest TV they sell is a massive 90” Sharp LCD television that costs 13,579,900 pesos ($6,281).
I also saw a Sony 50” LCD television that cost 1,479,900 pesos ($684) and a Hitachi 50” LCD television that cost 1,389,900 ($643), which are lower prices than I have seen in other stores in Medellín for similar 50” televisions.
What Does the PriceSmart Membership Cost?
PriceSmart offers two types of memberships. The Diamond membership is good for personal use and for the cost of 65,000 peso ($30) you get membership cards for two people.
They also have a Business membership, which costs 55,000 pesos ($25) with additional members at 20,000 pesos each.
It took about 15 minutes for me to sign up for a membership with a line of about 15 people on the second day they were open.
I expect that I will likely shop at PriceSmart with my girlfriend perhaps once a month to stock up on items we use frequently. I think just buying the large, wholesale size packages at PriceSmart will likely save us the cost of the membership in a month or two.
Where is PriceSmart Located?
The company chose the location in a growing area of Belén with many new apartment buildings being built nearby – especially in Loma de los Bernal.
The Bottom Line
The new PriceSmart warehouse store in Medellín was pretty busy when I went on the second day it was open with many people there checking out the new store.
The store had many checkout lines open so it was quick to checkout. I noticed many customers checking out with full baskets.
I expect PriceSmart will be popular based on what I saw in my initial visit with some good prices to be found and a wide selection of products. About 70 percent of the items the store sells are imported so you can find many items that may be difficult to find in other stores in Medellín.