Davao’s got a new and exciting store coming, S & R Membership Shopping. Exactly when is unclear (I think I could use that phrase, and maybe I do, in every article I ever write about life here), but I’ve heard anywhere from November (well that’s here and isn’t going to happen), to May of next year. May looks possible, but I wouldn’t put any money down on it.

For those of you unfamiliar with S & R, just think Costco. It is modeled after that, is laid out exactly the same, and even carries many of the “Kirkland” brand products. Before you get too excited, it’s not Costco. It doesn’t have nearly the variety or the great prices, but for the Philippines it’s pretty unique.

I had the opportunity to visit one a couple of weeks ago when I was in Cebu. It was one of the stops on my list, as there were some particular items that Costco carried and I was hoping to find them here. Unfortunately I didn’t find any of those. For the most part I discovered a lot of items that could be found elsewhere here in Davao. The exceptions were some of the Kirkland Brand items. Even many of those can be located around town @ GMall and even NCCC, on occasion.

I didn’t do a lot of price checking, but when I did it didn’t reveal any great bargains. For instance, we had recently purchased a Samsung washing machine, one of the little Asian models. S & R had the exact one. It was priced over P2500 more than I paid. Granted we got ours on sale, but even our original price was lower than what they had. Honestly I was surprised by that.

The produce section was also a disappointment. As far as I could tell it was all local, the exact same stuff you would see in SM or NCCC Malls. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but maybe I thought there might be some hard to locate items there. I didn’t spend much time in that section, so it is possible I missed something.

Another section I didn’t go to, as I don’t eat any, was the meat section. Now it is my understanding that they have some good deals there, and this is one of the highlights of their stores. I’ll have to see what others say when it opens here.

One of the positives for me was the food service area. It was just like Costco with the pizza slices, hotdogs, drinks, etc. I got a LARGE slice of cheese pizza for P89, and thought it was a pretty good deal. Good pizza too, just like I remembered.

Another section I glanced over but was impressed by was the bakery. They have their own baker and there was some quality stuff being produced. In addition to the breads, were fresh tortillas and pitas, both regular and whole wheat. Interestingly I ran into these same items at another place in Cebu and questioned them about it. They said they were in fact the baker for S & R and would also be the sole baker for the Davao branch when it opened. March was their estimate by the way.

There was also the famous tire section, off in it’s own room, just like Costco back home. I did not check prices, so that is another potential gem. The room was really packed, but they were doing some kind of Halloween show in there, so take that for what it’s worth.

They also carried some cheeses and ice creams that I had not seen around here. Tillamook is the brand I that I noticed and is one that I’m familiar with, being from the west coast of the US. The cheese selection looked limited, but it’s possible that it they carried more, as I saw some empty spaces. It seemed they had a reasonable selection of Tillamook ice cream, but don’t expect the 31 flavors or so at the local supermarket back in the states.

I left feeling pretty dejected about the whole thing. At that point I didn’t really care when the Davao branch opened, as I didn’t see a reason to make a special effort to visit them. Upon reflection I feel my expectations may have been too high. Running into the baker later got me somewhat excited again, as I enjoy fresh tortillas and pitas. Also, thinking about it, there are many times I went to Costco and didn’t buy much, as the stock changed often.

I’ll withhold my judgment until they open. I’ll join, as a membership is only P200 P700 per year if the information I got was correct. After a few visits I should have a better idea if S & R is something that’s worth the effort. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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