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Old 01-13-2014, 11:09 AM   #21
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Sounds good. One positive thing they've done with some meats is that even though you buy a big package, it is actually made up of several smaller individual packs. Chicken pcs and sausages are two examples - so you can cut away one pack, and throw the other 3 in the freezer, and pull out a pack as needed.

I've been surprised a few times though, Trader Joe's prices on some things are right in line with Costco (smoked salmon), and you can buy a smaller amount. But in general, Costco has great prices and high quality.
We bought a 6-pack of boneless/skinless chicken breast at Costco, it went directly into the freezer. $2.99/lb vs $5.49/lb at the local grocery - both Perdue. I plan to go back one day during the week to look more closely at perishable groceries to see what does/not make sense for us. We did need mayo, but the jars they had were simply too big. Even if it saves, we just can't buy things planning to throw some away.

And while we saved at least $72 on Sat, I did buy an 18-pack of Guinness/Harp/Smithwick's thinking it was a deal. It was a screaming deal compared to 6 packs, but it turns out the price I paid was the same as Binny's in Chicago (though that's almost an hour away). Didn't lose money, but didn't save anything on paper either. We'll get the hang of it, and use the smartphone in the store when needed.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:11 AM   #22
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Don't bet on that. Around here, Costco gas is only cheaper about a quarter of the time.
Net of rebates of 3-4%?? On average price of 3.50/gal, that is another .10/gal or more.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:36 AM   #23
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Good idea that you got the Executive upgrade. It is worth another percent rebate at the gas pumps.
As a RVer, we have saved bundles by mapping our trip against the Costco stores across the country (pick up a store directory at their service desk). Each is a bit different and we find it a good chance for snack or inexpensive lunch when we fill-up as well as some exercise. Since we enjoy wine, we always cruise by the wine selection--lot of variation between stores items in this category.
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Good to see another RV'er doing the same. I use MS Street & Trips loaded with a POI (point of interest) file from DiscoveryOwners-dot-com. The file has US+Canada Costco and Walmart stores as well as many campgrounds.

There's usually a Costco along the way on each leg and near the Interstate for convenient refueling. If I have to deviate more than 4-5 miles, then I would pass because the savings would be eaten up by the extra distance.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:43 AM   #24
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Costco gas is always cheaper by $0.10 to $0.20

Costco also gets the better cuts of meat. They get the stuff that goes to the higher end restaurants (in the blue packages I think). Their regular meats are what normal restaurants get, and your local grocery store gets what the restaurants don't want.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:46 AM   #25
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Costco uses a marketing scheme called Treasure Hunting by a marketing professor I had many years ago before Costco existed.

The idea is to have about 10-20% new items every month or so. People come into the store to buy their TP, flour, milk, eggs and batteries. They see the the YogurtMatic for $49.99 and think of all the yogurt their family eats. Then they remember seeing it at FancyGadgets for $68 a few months ago. They buy it.

A few weeks later while eating their homemade yogurt, they remember how good it felt to find and purchase the YogurtMatic.

They go back to Costco.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:52 AM   #26
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I read an analysis of Costco's business plan earlier this year. It concluded the Costco makes $0 on its merchandise, the profit is in the membership $.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:04 PM   #27
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Net of rebates of 3-4%?? On average price of 3.50/gal, that is another .10/gal or more.
Nwsteve

Yes.
I frequently see the Costco gas price at 15-20 cents higher than elsewhere on my route. And at other stations I can use my PenFed Visa for a 5% rebate, so the difference is that much greater.

Don't get me wrong; I love Costco, but gas price is not why.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:07 PM   #28
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Costco gas is always cheaper by $0.10 to $0.20
My experience, too.

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Costco also gets the better cuts of meat. They get the stuff that goes to the higher end restaurants (in the blue packages I think). Their regular meats are what normal restaurants get, and your local grocery store gets what the restaurants don't want.
Costco also holds their meat suppliers feet to the fire with respect to traceability of their meats. The meat packing lobby likes to play a game where it all gets mixed together and no one is accountable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/health/08meat.html
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:18 PM   #29
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A Costco butcher told me that Costco owns a meet packing plant in California. I know enough to know that employees aren't the most reliable source but I found that interesting.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:24 PM   #30
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We are in the process of buying a car through Costco and I love it. I just emailed Costco with the type of car I wanted to test drive and they sent an automatic email telling me which dealer would contact me. Then the dealer contacted me and I showed up to test drive. So far, I've tested Jeeps, Toyotas and Subarus. The price is pre-determined based on the brand and model.

I will never go back to haggling my own price.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:26 PM   #31
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A Costco butcher told me that Costco owns a meet packing plant in California. I know enough to know that employees aren't the most reliable source but I found that interesting.
I did not know that either. The following link confirms that.

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Costco is one of the few large grinders to test ingredients for the pathogen as they arrive at its plant, and Mr. Wilson said Tyson had declined to sell trimmings to the company, citing its testing.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:30 PM   #32
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I read an analysis of Costco's business plan earlier this year. It concluded the Costco makes $0 on its merchandise, the profit is in the membership $.
During the membership spiel we got last Saturday, the Costco rep volunteered "we never markup any item more than 8-15%" and that's before other coupons or cash back.

I don't plan to summarize on subsequent trips and I'm not interested in debating the attached, but I know these savings are real from our last trip vs any brick-n-mortar alternative in our area. We undoubtedly saved more (about $1.50 on gas for one), but these were just the big items exact same brands I could readily get accurate pricing for. FWIW
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:32 PM   #33
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Just think of all the savings you could have had if you joined Costco 30+ years ago as we did.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:41 PM   #34
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CNBC did an hour show (43 actual minutes) about Costco that was interesting and is still available on YouTube (link & description below).
Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant - CNBC

Published on Aug 28, 2013 Costco is famous for turning the experience of warehouse shopping into an adventure. Costco, one of the nation's top three retailers and the world's largest membership warehouse chain, has thrived by turning convention on its head. The company never advertises, charges its 64 million members to shop there and doesn't mark up any product more than 15 percent. It's a business model that works, generating $93 billion in annual sales.


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Old 01-13-2014, 02:41 PM   #35
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Just think of all the savings you could have had if you joined Costco 30+ years ago as we did.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:48 PM   #36
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Published on Aug 28, 2013 Costco is famous for turning the experience of warehouse shopping into an adventure. Costco, one of the nation's top three retailers and the world's largest membership warehouse chain, has thrived by turning convention on its head. The company never advertises, charges its 64 million members to shop there and doesn't mark up any product more than 15 percent. It's a business model that works, generating $93 billion in annual sales.
Besides the Treasure Hunt approach, Costco also gives better benefits to its employees than many retail outfits. Even part-timers can get some form of medical, dental and vision benefits.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:56 PM   #37
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... they had some great looking steak that I wanted to buy, real premium stuff, but the packages were 5 or 6 big steaks, and something like $50 per pack. So I'd need to freeze some, and I'd prefer not to freeze such premium cuts...
These packs are great if you are having a party. Costco also sells an entire tenderloin at a good price, though I have not bought any. Alton Brown of the FoodNetwork had an episode a few years ago about tenderloins, and talked about buying and trimming Costco's cut into serving sizes.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:58 PM   #38
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Besides the Treasure Hunt approach, Costco also gives better benefits to its employees than many retail outfits. Even part-timers can get some form of medical, dental and vision benefits.
And that shows up in their employees' attitude and demeanor. Another chain I have seen with happy workers is Trader Joe's, though there is not much known about how they are treated.

PS. I owned Costco shares for a while. At one point, sold them for a profit and thought I would be able to buy back lower. Nope! That was a mistake.
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:05 PM   #39
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And that shows up in their employees' attitude and demeanor. Another chain I have seen with happy workers is Trader Joe's, though there is not much known about how they are treated.
Well, there is this:

The Trader Joe's Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail - Sophie Quinton - The Atlantic

Sometimes I think the retailers and other employers that try to squeeze its workers as much as they can are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. When you factor in increased productivity, lower absenteeism and turnover, lower theft rates, better attitudes leaving customers with better experiences... maybe going as cheap as the market will bear may not be optimal? Higher wages and benefits may not always equate to that, but combined with an appropriate company culture which makes employees feel more like valued partners than slave-like "resources" to strip-mined and discarded, I can certainly see where it could.
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:06 PM   #40
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And that shows up in their employees' attitude and demeanor. Another chain I have seen with happy workers is Trader Joe's, though there is not much known about how they are treated.

PS. I owned Costco shares for a while. At one point, sold them for a profit and thought I would be able to buy back lower. Nope! That was a mistake.
Googling:

Trader Joe's benefits include a 10% discount on purchases: Trader Joe's

Article about ACA and Trader Joe's: Trader Joe’s cut health benefits last week. Here’s its side of the story.
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