Big box stores are certainly convenient if you need to stock up, but they're also the number one cause of PCSD (Post Costco Stress Disorder) due to the huge, overwhelming miles of aisles and piles of merchandise. Here's how to get in and out without a panic attack.
Do your research
These stores can be overwhelming so don't just stop by to browse. A trip here is an event and you need to plan accordingly. Start with a visit to the store's website to gather your thoughts but remember that stock in store could vary, so make sure to check that your items are available before heading over in person. Another great big box stress buster: buy on line, pick up in store. If I know exactly what I want, buying online lets someone else cruise the aisles, so I can get in and out with my items quickly.
Make a strict list
Big box stores are set up to get you to spend, spend, spend. Even though prices are cheap, buying stuff you don't need is never a good bargain strategy. Sticking to a list is always a good shopping idea, but especially important in an overwhelming store with so much to buy.
Get friendly with the return policy
In case you do get swept up with buying fever, it's a good idea to understand the store's return policy before you check out. Big box stores are usually pretty generous with their time limits and parameters, but always check the details. It may be that using a credit card to pay will make returns easier or that you can get your receipt emailed to you (to avoid the easily-lost paper trail).
Don't rely on the store staff
All the merchandise in these huge stores is really hard to keep track of, even for the staff. Don't go in expecting personalized service. You might luck into some great help, but it's smart to go in armed with pre-researched information about the products you're interested in so you don't feel completely abandoned.
Never go alone
A supportive friend or spouse is key when you're facing hundreds of decisions and bulk sizing. Sometimes you just need another rational voice next to you (not to mention help loading up your purchases).
Now it's your turn to spill your strategies. How do you shop these stores and keep your sanity?