Home > So what's the big deal about CostCo?

So what's the big deal about CostCo?

February 12th, 2017 at 08:49 pm

We just had the first CostCo open up locally back a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Since November was when I started my new job, this weekend was my first chance to go and check it out. It's over the other side of the valley, further than I usually drive on my weekly errands--a little bit of a distance but not too far--about 20 minutes, while most of my weekly errands are done within a 15-minute radius of home. (The nearest CostCo otherwise is about 50 minutes away.)

I arrived around 9, hoping to beat the crowd, and to my surprise, they were not yet open. Fortunately, a Whole Foods had also opened in the same mall, so I went and checked them out, seeing how the store was laid out and looking for interesting items to buy (but not yet purchasing anything at that point).

I went over to CostCo when they opened, but I was out 20 minutes later. I just didn't see the big deal. It looked just like the Sam's Club and BJ's that are a lot closer to me, with perhaps slightly higher quality merchandise in some areas. Certainly nothing that on the face of it would entice me to buy a membership or shop there regularly.

But before ruling them out entirely, I thought I would ask people what their favorite CostCo buys are. Maybe if I knew what to look for when shopping there I could see the value in sharing a membership with a friend (we currently share a Sam's Club membership, but let the BJ's membership drop).

The trip wasn't a waste--there's also a Nordstrom Rack and I picked up a dress and a sweater for work for less than $50, and I went back to Whole Foods and did my weekly shop there instead of the usual Wegman's run. (Whole Paycheck, indeed!)

So right at the moment, I can't see myself driving out there to go to CostCo again, but I can see myself going and checking out Nordstrom Rack and buying a few novelty groceries at Whole Foods maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

Other than that, mostly it's been a quiet weekend--potluck at my congregation Friday night, then went to see two movies at the local independent cinema yesterday plus will go to another one tonight. Yesterday both movies I went to with a friend. We met to see "Lion" in the late afternoon (worth seeing). While we were there, they announced that they were giving away passes for a free showing of "1984" for a later night showing, so we went back later. Today's film is a one-night showing of "A Better Life: An Exploration of a LIfe of Happiness & Joy in a World without God" about atheist philosophy (with the director in attendance for an after-movie discussion).

Tomorrow night I might go back yet again to see the Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts--and next weekend are the Oscar-nominated Documentaries. I'll probably skip the showing of the Oscar-nominated animated films, but I very well go back on the 26th for the Oscar party and screening.

Good thing I renewed my annual membership at the arts center where the cinema is located yesterday--I go enough during the year that the annual membership pretty much ends up paying for itself in accumulated discounts.

17 Responses to “So what's the big deal about CostCo?”

  1. ILuvATrainWreck Says:

    Why would you sign up for Costco if you knew nothing about it? It's NOT free to join.

    Why didn't you search for info on the internet about it and/or ask for info here on the blogs and/or forum??

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    I've heard some people say that of the warehouse clubs, Costco is the best one, but having been a Costco member years ago and currently being a BJs member, I'd say they're about equivalent to each other.

    It's harder to make a case for a single person to join, but if you split the membership with a friend as you suggested, it's easier to consider. I just renewed my BJs membership recently and am still unsure if that was worth doing for $50, but there are certain things I buy there regularly and don't see elsewhere.,

    Probably better to skip it if you don't see a pressing need now or feel like you're missing out. Same thing with Whole Foods...they do tend to be very pricey as you know, but i do go there periodically for certain very specific things, and becus they have the freshest fresh produce around, with more varieties than conventional supermarkets.

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    Iloveatrainwreck, she didn't say she was going to join...she said she was going to check it out, and asking for feedback on this forum is exactly what she's doing.

  4. My English Castle Says:

    I do like Costco; they tend to have good prices on bulk items. We always buy their TP, paper towels, wine, natural foods including dried fruit and laundry detergent. They can probably be beat on some prices, but you have to devote the time to chase the loss leaders. I'm happy to always have enough TP. I've bought a few basic clothing items there, but nobody goes for the fashion. It's great for buying for groups and parties. That said it's not for everybody, and people can get carried away. I go with my office mate. I really like their organic jam--and our Euro husbands are big jam eaters. I like their coffee, and I've heard people have good luck with their tires and things like that. I am happier now that they take Visa.

  5. AnotherReader Says:

    Check the gas prices in your area. Costco is cheaper here by $0.10 to $0.20, depending on the season and the market. I buy most of my gas at Costco. I buy the Kirkland dry cat food and a few other items there. Most of the bulk items are too large for a couple or a small family. Their baked goods are sub par and their prepared foods are full of salt and chemicals. If you like the standard rotisserie chicken, their version is priced the best. A $1.99 pizza slice makes a reasonably priced quick lunch.

    Real food, such as boneless chicken and veggies, are cheaper elsewhere and fresher.

  6. mathmahna16 Says:

    I have a local favorite grocery store that offers most of what I purchase on a weekly basis. It has great sales. I could live without Costco if foods and household items were all they offered.
    But, consider the other things that Costco does.Recently, I rented a car from Costco after searching dozens of companies/consolidators for the best price. The savings (more than 250$)from Costco for this one purchase alone will pay for at least 5 years of club membership. I have neighbors who have had great savings on hearing aids, new cars and travel. Also, most of these types of purchases are done on-line so it doesn't matter how near or far Costco is to your home.

    Keep doing your research...membership might (or might not be worth it for you.)

  7. Single Guy Says:

    The warehouse clubs all look the same to me. I just signed up for a year of Sam's club only because of the large discount on the membership, and I can get cheaper gas. Otherwise... I don't see the benefit after touring the store. Of course I am single, and I buy groceries at Aldis so that has something to do with my viewpoint.

  8. Ssnafu Says:

    We're a pretty diverse group at SA.,suggest checking with colleagues and friends to get their opinion as to value for money.
    I shared membership with SIL who recently passed away and not sure if DH and I would use it enough to renew. Plan to check shared cost with neighbours when current year runs out since we often shop at Costco together.

    As mentioned, if close enough, gas is a best buy. Friends have membership just because of tire brand/price/install combo. I too buy their rotisserie chicken, cheaper than roasting a chicken at home, makes several meals and quality stock with a tiny bit of planning. Overall meat quality beats all our chain groceries, a roast hardly shrinks! Store brand 'Kirkland' products are top notch. I use a lot of spices, make combos to share quantity with others [so much fresher than the stuff in packets for stew, chili, spaghetti, ethnic French, Spanish etc] I like their paper products but too large for our needs unless we make arrangements to split. In the past I did a lot of holiday baking and found their seasonal bakign supplies always the best and low cost was a bonus.

  9. creditcardfree Says:

    We haven't had a membership to the warehouse clubs in years. I'm sure it is good to evaluate every so often. We stopped ours as the things we were buying just weren't the benefit any longer.

  10. Debt-free by Thir-ty Says:

    We've been debating switching over to Costco. We currently have a BJ's membership, but Costco is now much closer to where we live. The downside is that they don't offer the $10 military discount that BJ's does. I still need to actually go through one and price compare to BJ's, but I'd guess they're pretty comparable.

    Now that we have a ton of storage space, we definitely make use of the bulk household goods like tp, paper towels, and hand soap. For our housewarming party last month, we got all of the party goods from BJ's. We also typically get snacks there since we go through snacks a lot.

  11. kashi Says:

    Costco has a lot of unique organic, healthy food items that I haven't seen at other big box stores. I appreciate that I can stock my vegan pantry pretty easily. I also buy my gasoline there.

  12. scfr Says:

    (This is a copy and paste from something I posed on the forums awhile back.)
    I've been a Costco member for a pretty long time - I'd guess around 25 years.

    I get my eyeglasses there. Used to get medical insurance through Costco.

    Items that I buy regularly and purchase mostly or only at Costco include:
    Dog Food (KS brand)
    Dog Dental Chews (KS brand)
    Baby Wipes (used to wipe the dogs paws when we return home from walks) - KS brand
    Coffee (KS brand ground and Starbucks Via)
    Almond Butter (KS brand)
    Plain Greek Yogurt (KS brand)
    Fish Patties (salmon, pollock)
    Amy's Bean/Rice/Cheese burritos
    Maple Syrup
    Olive Oil (KS brand)
    Sardines in tins
    Mixed Frozen Berries (or wild blueberries)
    Mixed Frozen Veggies
    Raw Nuts (KS brand)
    Mixed No-Salt Seasoning (KS brand)
    Sea Salt & Pepper in grinders (KS brand)
    Better Than Bouillon Chicken soup base
    Copier Paper
    Forever Stamps

    Semi-regular purchases are in the health and beauty category (shampoo, body wash, sunscreen), deli items (including the well-known roasted chicken), and yard care items.

    Not a regular purchase, but KS brand dog beds at Costco are a great deal!

    Clothes at Costco are mostly a bust (can find better deals on the clearance racks at other stores).

    Produce is very hit or miss, mostly miss. Only occasionally do I find a competitive price with good quality.

    We go about every 6 weeks and a typical spend is $140.

    If you have pets, I think Costco is definitely worth checking out.

    KS = Kirkland Signature (store) brand. We find the Costco store brand items to be very good quality.

    Adds - Other things I remembered: I also buy Amy's soup in the winter, tofu, and sometimes cereal.

  13. scfr Says:

    How did I forget TP? I'm just like MEC ... it's something that I never want to run out of!

  14. Kaycee Fisher Says:

    I at one time held memberships to both Costco and Sam's Club (both were paid for by my employer at the time)

    I much preferred Sam's Club. It is closer to my home and because I had a business membership, I could get in well before they opened to the general public. Which meant I was walking out the door while the crowds were filing in.

  15. starfishy Says:

    i don't have a need for warehouse shopping and there are none close to my town. but, one positive for costco is that they apparently treat their employees very well. if it's true, then i would like the idea of supporting a business like that.

  16. Dido Says:

    I appreciate all the feedback! I'll definitely have to check out some of their deals for tires and so forth, but I can see that, until I have a big purchase like that, I'm not going to get the benefit that would make the extra 30-40 minutes of travel time worthwhile.

  17. LuckyRobin Says:

    Health insurance is the big one for us. We had access to some health insurance plans through our Costco membership that offered us a lower rate with better coverage than we could find elsewhere. Otherwise, I get quite a lot of organic stuff there, and toilet paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, all for cheaper than I can get elsewhere. Also butter and eggs (when the chickens and ducks aren't laying well). I haven't been able to find better prices on butter (except during Christmas sales) or organic eggs. Vitamins are much lower, too, though you have to buy a lot more at once. I don't think there is much difference between the club stores, though. If a different one is closer to you, I'd just stick with it.

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