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Costco newbee with questions
Old 05-12-2008, 02:34 PM   #1
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Costco newbee with questions

I've never been to a Costco. I recently found out we have one here in Brooklyn, a mere 2.7 miles from my home.

I'm thinking of riding my bike over there tomorrow to check it out (i'm taking tomorrow off work for the hell of it).

Does Costco require a membership? If so, can I buy it on the spot? How much does it cost? Are there different types of memberships? And if so, what's the difference?


Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-12-2008, 03:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Maurice View Post
I've never been to a Costco. I recently found out we have one here in Brooklyn, a mere 2.7 miles from my home.

I'm thinking of riding my bike over there tomorrow to check it out (i'm taking tomorrow off work for the hell of it).

Does Costco require a membership? If so, can I buy it on the spot? How much does it cost? Are there different types of memberships? And if so, what's the difference?


Thanks in advance.
Yes, Costco requires a membership. It's $50/year. Yes, you can buy it on the spot. I've heard that some Costcos MUST let in anyone, if they sell things like alcohol and cigarettes. (This probably depends on state law).

If so, you can get in and take a look around without joining. Alternatively, if you speak with someone at the customer service desk, they might be able to give you a one-day pass to get a sense of the store and its merchandise.

You can check costco.com for any questions you might have and to get a sense of the merchandise and pricing.

If you plan to buy anything, you might need to have more than a bike to carry it home, as many items are sold in larger sizes and/or multiples.

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Old 05-12-2008, 03:23 PM   #3
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Depending on the size of your family, you may want to go in on a membership with someone. This way, you can take advantage of savings on items packaged in large quantities by splitting the order and only pay half of the membership. Costco does have good deals on many items. Even so, when my regular grocery store has a good sale, I can get many items cheaper there.
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Old 05-12-2008, 03:40 PM   #4
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When I was up in NY... I worked in Jersey... I would go to the Costco and buy stuff without a membership... they charged IIRC an extra 10%... but never said anything about me not having a memebership.. it might be one of the states that 'require' that they sell to people... NJ is a bit strange...
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I Love Costco
Old 05-13-2008, 07:52 AM   #5
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I Love Costco

I've been a Costco (formerly Price Club) member for a while. For bulk purchases of food items, you can't beat Costco. I've been re-thinking our membership since we've essentially down-sized our surroundings, but I've decided to keep it for a while. Costco beats everyone in my area for gas, tires, plant and nursery items (I bought some mature Azaleas a few years ago, at half the price of the regular nursery/garden stores/departments), luggage, and electronics. It sells at 14 percent or below of its cost. The return policy is fantastic, despite recent changes to the return policy on electronic items. It has decent prepared food items, as well. I've purchased jewelry from Costco and for some of the items I've purchased, I found them to be comparable to purchases I would make at the Diamond District or on Blue Nile. You can purchase just about anything at Costco, including burial caskets -- they're fairly cheap too! Prices on books are significantly lower than at retail stores or at Amazon. And they run special deals that are not replicated anywhere; I purchased a DVD series collection for the TV show "24" for a present at $99. Haven't seen this collection anywhere else and each episode sells for around $49.

I've been an Executive Club member for several years, beginning when my wife had her own business and purchased a lot of office supplies/equipment from Costco. There's an annual membership fee, but if you take out a Costco/American Express Card, the fee is essentially waived and you get a rebate on purchases. An Executive Club member gets a rebate of 2 percent on most purchases -- this is in addition to the Amercian Express rebate.

Let me know about this Costco and whether they have any nursery items on stock there.
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:48 AM   #6
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They wouldn't let us in to look around without buying a membership, but said they'd refund it if we weren't satisfied.

Found out later that the pharmacy is open to all, so it may work to tell them you want to visit the pharmacy.

For a while we did the trick of stocking up, letting the membership expire, then re-signing up again after six months. But they got wise to that, and now, when you re-sign up, your new membership starts as of when your last one expired.
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:11 AM   #7
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I just joined Costco about 2 weeks ago. I signed up for the American express card at the same time and used it that day. American express applied a $25 refund on my card which paid for 1/2 of the membership. No free membership with the card as far as I can tell.

I was a member a few years ago and did not try and renew, I just joined as a new member.

They told me they have changed their membership policy and that only a spouse or significant other living at the same address can be given the second card. I wanted to get the card for my 22 year old son....no luck there. Whether all stores enforce that new rule.....I don't know.

They did let me go in and look a few days before I joined. I told them I was thinking of joining and wanted to look...no problems getting in.

They have a lot more organic foods than Sam's club which is the main reason why I joined.
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Old 05-13-2008, 02:09 PM   #8
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Personally I haven't found it profitable to join any of the membership clubs. I have a SAMS club very close by, and I joined when I bought my house. But, by the time my membership expired I hadn't bought ANYTHING there.

I just don't buy a whole lot. It might be different if I had a family of twelve or ran a homeless shelter or something! But for one person, I don't see the return on my money.
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Old 05-13-2008, 03:54 PM   #9
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Personally I haven't found it profitable to join any of the membership clubs. I have a SAMS club very close by, and I joined when I bought my house. But, by the time my membership expired I hadn't bought ANYTHING there.

I just don't buy a whole lot. It might be different if I had a family of twelve or ran a homeless shelter or something! But for one person, I don't see the return on my money.
If you don't buy a lot of things, then Costco or any other membership club might not work. Your comment reminds me of someone I knew who would get slightly annoyed that his lottery numbers never came up even though he never bought any tickets.
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:02 PM   #10
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I just don't buy a whole lot. It might be different if I had a family of twelve or ran a homeless shelter or something! But for one person, I don't see the return on my money.
I have assumed for several years that Costco's prices were low enough to justify the membership cost. Recently I was surprised to discover that they were considerably more expensive than a regional grocer (WinCo) on a number of things. And worse, I didn't need to buy a hundred pounds of something to get a better price. On some items (coffee, soap, and TP) Costco is cheaper, but the $50 membership clobbers the difference for me, I will not be renewing...
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:12 PM   #11
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We have been long-term Sam's Club members but our new locale has none within 130 miles but does have a Costco. We used to have a membership there too but let it expire since we liked the items sold in Sam's much better. We usually go to Sam's about 2X a month; more around the holidays to catch present-like-items as they are available only for a couple of weeks.

On the other hand, we may just forget about the membership and use SuperWallyWorld. The cost of the fuel used to get to Costco vs WallyWorld might be less than the slightly higher prices. I could run a spreadsheet....nah....too much like w*rk. Once I have nothing to do I might do a shopping comparison of the items we tend to buy in bulk. I have a feeling with the volume we will be buying (less space to store it now) and the membership fee the real cost will be about the same as at WallyWorld.
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:32 PM   #12
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Don't know if it is true at all COSTCOs but the ones out this way, especially on Saturday have enough free food samples to fill in for a meal. This is a LBYM board, right?
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:54 PM   #13
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I'm thinking of riding my bike over there tomorrow to check it out (i'm taking tomorrow off work for the hell of it).
With apologies to the scriptwriters for "Jaws"... "looks like you're gonna need a bigger bike". We always walk out of there with 30 or 40 pounds of stuff we didn't think we needed.

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Originally Posted by Maurice View Post
Does Costco require a membership? If so, can I buy it on the spot? How much does it cost? Are there different types of memberships? And if so, what's the difference?
We've been paying $52.36/year but I don't know if you can stretch that out between renewals. We make it up on the gas pumps and the occasional big purchase. They do have a cheaper membership if you get an American Express card, but IIRC it's only cheaper if you have the rebate program and spend something like $2500/year.

For an occasional trip, and for loads not measured in terms of pallets, it's better to pay the minimum membership. And in Brooklyn it might even be better to keep shopping around.
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:07 PM   #14
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I shop almost exclusively at Costco for groceries and household stuff. I have an executive membership for $100 and got a rebate of $127, so I get paid to shop there

Not always the best deal, but always a fair deal and sometimes an incredible deal. Quality is great for the price, but you will not find "cheap" items. You can get a great $1,300 TV but you can't get a $300 TV or a $500 computer, etc.
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:25 PM   #15
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I have the $100 a year executive membership that pays back 2% of your purchases annually. So far it pays back $150-180ish per year, so my membership is free and I'm also being paid $50-80 to shop there.

I had absolutely no problem getting the second card assigned to my dad who also shops there a lot. I get 2% of whatever he buys too...I think...I heard they were going to not pay the rebate on purchases made by the second card but I dont know if they followed through with that. Nobody asked me where he lived. I just said "Hi! Heres my card! This is my dad! I'd like him to have the second card!" and they gave it to him.

Some stuff is a very good deal. Frozen foods are incredibly cheap unless you get a sale and a coupon at another store. Seafood is ridiculously cheap...I get U10 scallops IQF there for around $10/lb. IQF lobster claws are $34/2lbs. Fresh wild salmon and Ahi tuna steaks are under $10/lb. Meat where I live is very inexpensive compared to the supermarkets. Vegetables are very cheap. Electronics are mediocre priced, but the return policy is very good. Clothes can be very inexpensive if you shop selectively. Some staples are no better priced than supermarkets with a sale.

The return policy is superb. Except for televisions, computers and a couple of other items you may return any item at any time for any reason for a full refund. You do not need your receipt...they have a purchasing history. If you are ever unhappy as a member, they will give you your membership fee back in full. Whenever I've returned something they've just asked if it was broken or defective and then handed me cash.

The return policy also works for items bought on costco.com. You may bring any purchase into a store and they'll hand back the item cost AND the shipping cost. Costco.com has a fabulous selection of really well made, attractive furniture at el cheapo furniture store prices. You may also purchase business services, travel, cars, insurance, banking services and all sorts of other interesting things at reduced rates.

I bought a watch there for my wife and a year later it broke, and I had trouble getting the manufacturer to take it back under warranty. I took it back and they handed me cash. I bought a set of costco pans, which were very good but after a year they discolored. I brought them in and they were aghast that they discolored and gave me my money back. I bought a vacuum cleaner there that started breaking belts and after the manufacturers warranty expired the manufacturer wanted me to buy a new belt every month on my own dime. I brought it in and told the returns lady the story and she said "NO! Give me that. I'll give you your money back and you can get something else!"

We also have a membership to Sams Club. I shop there sometimes because they're a lot less busy than Costco, have different stuff, and have some good prices on many items.

Many people find they can save the membership fee several times over just on one type of item or category. If you like fine wine or expensive cheese, Costco has a reallly good selection of both at bargain prices. Their Kirkland brand boozes are also a bargain. They sell a single malt bottled by Macallan, 18 year, for $60. The Macallan 18 year sells for $150+ in a regular store. They also have a range of Kirkland branded Bordeaux's and a huge selection of reds and whites. I can buy 2lbs of aged vintage cheddar for under $9. Ten pounds of chicken wings IQF sells for $12...half the price at the store. Rib eyes are $5.99 a lb and Porterhouse steaks are $5.68 a lb. A whole roasted chicken the size of your head is $5.99. A large pizza is $8.99-9.99. A 5lb tub of potato salad is around $4. A huge tub of organic salad greens is $3.65. The Kirkland brand dry dog food, which is pretty darn good stuff, is $16 for 40lbs. The organic human grade dry dog food is $19 for 25lbs. Hardcover books are very cheap if you're a book collector. Heck you can stop in there any day for lunch and enjoy a hot dog and a drink for $1.50, a huge pizza slice and a drink for $2.65 or any one of a half dozen other items for under $3.00. A frozen mocha or ice cream sundae covered with berries is around a buck. In the summer months the one near me hand dips ice cream bars in chocolate and nuts for $1.50. They roast their own coffee in a huge roaster in the back of the store...2.5lbs of yummy coffee thats still warm from the roaster is under $9.

So yeah, it can be a huge money saver and the days of buying things in 50 gallon drums are a little bit in the rear view mirror. If you're a single person the quantity can still be a little much but a couple can manage it fine and a family of 3 or 4 can manage no problem.
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:26 PM   #16
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Costco has great prices in their optical shop as well. They have a somewhat limited selection of frames, but can order any contacts you have a scrip for. They are as cheap anything I can find online anywhere. The bakery is nice too
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:39 PM   #17
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I read somewhere that Costco is now the largest retailer of wine in the US?
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:50 PM   #18
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OK you guys got me to go re-try Costco. I haven't been to it in years. I plan on going in a couple days
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Old 05-13-2008, 10:53 PM   #19
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Costco is one of the country's largest retailers of organic and free-trade products.

Along with what everyone else said, I've had great luck with their digital photo lab as well. 5 x 7" -- not 4x6" -- prints are 19 cents each; ready in less than an hour after I upload them from my home computer. And their tire prices are very competitive. (They also have special deals arranged for travel and car purchases -- but I have not used them.)

Also, Costco often has special events -- like outdoor furniture, high end decorative items (think Waterford crystal for example), pianos (!!) -- with very competitive prices.

Happily, you don't necessarily have to buy one gallon jugs of capers (I speak from experience here) -- lots of the items are packed in more reasonable/useful sizes.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:16 PM   #20
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I read somewhere that Costco is now the largest retailer of wine in the US?
Maybe - they have had several legal battles with Washington state about the liquor laws here. This is the latest - very interesting stuff Press Release - Washington State Liquor Control Board

Interestingly, I have not found any great wine (or beer) deals at my Costco - but I bet this varies widely across the US.
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