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Costco? What makes it awesome for you?
Old 06-15-2017, 06:27 AM   #1
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Costco? What makes it awesome for you?

I'm considering a Costco membership but not sure I'll use it enough. I have a warehouse very close to me and took a walk around yesterday but wasn't enamored.

That may just be me. Here's a few things holding me back:

I already save 20% on Gas as I stock up on Publix $40 for $50 gas cards for Mobil. (Though costco would make this simpler if their gas is that much cheaper?)
I BOGO thinks like pet supplies, non-perishables etc.
I have a Fresh Market 2 miles from my house which I LOVE for fresh produce, wonderful meats, discounted wines on weekends, etc. - and it's an awesome little new shopping center I am in and out. (but costco did have some very good wine prices)
I'm very picky. I will not buy 2lbs of French Roast for the same price as 1lb of Espresso Roast because I want Espresso Roast. I won't buy 6 tubes of toothpaste if it isn't the exact Crest sensitive whitening one I like.
We mostly do the lower carb thing, so no cereal, rice, candies, chips, frozen dinners - certainly never big huge backs or cartons.

That said, I'm sure I'm missing something. I did see cheap huge things like Aleve, and Ricola cough drops, Splenda, and maybe their TV prices look good (we want to get a 4k TV sooner or later).

Inputs welcome!

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Old 06-15-2017, 06:43 AM   #2
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We are long-time Costco members. Like you, we are very picky and have no interest in huge bags of chips, cereal, etc. We continue our membership and benefit from great prices on:
- Tires
- Liquor (Grey Goose) & wine
- Proteins - filet mignon, frozen shrimp, rotisserie chicken, pork tenderloin, frozen sea scallops, lobster tails
- Vitamins and various personal care products (moisturizer, dental floss, etc)
- Plastic wrap (their house brand is the best!)
- Bottled iced tea
- Some produce such as blueberries and strawberries, and bell peppers. Much of their produce is sold in too large of a quantity for us, and we tend to like to select specific pieces of fruit/veggies. However the berries are good especially when not in season and not as available elsewhere.
- Eyeglasses
- Discounted movie tickets

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Old 06-15-2017, 06:44 AM   #3
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1. They treat their employees well. That's important to me.

2. I use them for big-ticket items such as replacing the A/C, buying a mattress, the hearing aids DH needed, eyeglasses- where there's a bewildering array of prices and products and I have no idea why one is $700 and one is $5,000. Will use them when my car needs tires, too. I trust them to choose a limited range of the best products and add only a modest markup.

3. Excellent prices on liquor (not available in every state).

4. The lines at the cash register are intimidating but there's rarely a long wait.

5. Guaranteed return policy. I returned a Roku box that stopped working after less than a year (I did have a receipt) and a later model was on sale for less than the price of the old one. Win-win.

6. If you donate to food banks or other charities, you can buy a lot in bulk and save.

7. My 3-year old granddaughter loves Costco because of the food samples!

I do find it a bit frustrating to wander around trying to find something I haven't bought before (so I don't know where it is), or finding a product I like that they carry only occasionally, but I can live with that. As a single, I can't take advantage of all the bulk purchases but I do buy meat and freeze it and there are some fruits and vegetables I consume in sufficient quantities that even Costco-size lots don't go bad.
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:44 AM   #4
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The return policy for non electronic items. Cant beat it. Not saying to abuse it...but if something breaks or the item doesnt perform as you expected...just return questions asked.

Rental cars. A lot of times I can get a rental car cheaper through costco than I can through other sites. That easily covers the membership fee each year.

Quality of products. Meats, fruits and veggies are always good. Eggs are by far cheaper than what you can get at any grocery store. Milk is also about $1/less although we dont drink much of the sugar milk.

Things I samples. I understand why they do it but its annoying to have groups of people standing around wanting to sample a cracker. Are you kidding me!?
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:59 AM   #5
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If it were not for the gas prices, I would not bother. Around here, it's the cheapest gas by far and the Costco Visa gives you 4 percent cash back. The Costco Visa offers good cash rewards on other things as well. I buy cat litter, a few food items, and the occasional rotisserie chicken (not that good, but it's easy). The eggs are better quality than the chain stores, but using up two dozen is a chore. The yogurt cups at $1.35 are a nice cold treat. Things that seem to work for other people, such as clothes and linens, I find to be of inferior quality. Is it worth $55 a year, soon to be $60? Just barely.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:01 AM   #6
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I live about 35 minutes from all the nearest Costcos.

So paying $ for the "privilege" of shopping there is not something I am willing to do.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:08 AM   #7
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- glasses but not contacts - Sam's better & no membership needed
- hearing aids
- liquor but wine selection not so great
- gas but a bit out of way
- meats/fish but portions big for us & so limits which we buy.
- big ticket items like appliances & TV's are excellent
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:17 AM   #8
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Belonging to a club store has saved us so much $$ over grocery stores. We eat a lot of produce and I bake a lot, so large quantities are for us.

Now and then, we flirt with switching from BJs to Costco. The nearest Costco is much bigger than the BJs, but a bit harder to get to (not as direct a drive).

They are each 13 miles from our house.

They both sell tires. Good deals at both stores.

The Costco has a gas station; the BJs doesn't. But, we have a gas station 3 miles from our house, and gas isn't a big expense for us anyway.

Neither store can sell alcohol (MD laws).

So, how to compare? Well, one time, I spent 4 hours shopping at Costco with some friends from work.
four * hours * smh The others had to look at every little thing.

So to pass the time, I wrote down prices of things we normally buy at BJs, and searched for things we wished BJs carried.

Costco's food prices turned out to be the same as BJs, and while they carried lots of non-food that BJs doesn't have, those aren't things we'd want.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:19 AM   #9
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I like Costco but visit at most once a month, so it's not a big part of our shopping.

Also, being a low carb person, I don't have much interest in most of their food aisles.

However, the OTC drugs, vitamins, etc. are always a very good deal compared to anywhere else I can get the same things.

I also really like things like high quality cheeses, which are better (and better priced) than anything in my local supermarket. Their mixed nuts are also excellent, as is EVOO and similar items.

Meat tends to be in larger packages than I want, but I'll frequently see some great steaks at an attractive price so I put them in the freezer and take out as needed.

The occasional electronic item can also be a good deal, but I don't spend any time shopping that area.

Both DW and I have bought glasses at their optical center, including eye exams, and have been happy.

The biggest single reason I keep going back is probably the fact that I know anything with the Kirkland brand will be top quality and well priced. Hard not to like that.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:19 AM   #10
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I find my local supermarket has prices just as good, when they are on sale, and I don't have to buy a 10-gallon can of ketchup to theoretically save some money. BUT, I joined Costco last year.......for the hearing aids.
Even if there really are some long term savings on other goods, every time I see those long check-out lines it wouldn't be worth the wait for me. YMMV.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:23 AM   #11
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We've been Exec members for 3 years, and it's saved us after membership fees every year. For the first few months we carefully compared prices between our Costco vs our alternatives (Target and our local grocery chain), and found we saved our membership fee within a month on prices alone. But we got a rebate from AmEx (now Visa) and another from Costco that made the savings that much greater. For us:
  • We use Gas Buddy, but Costco is usually 10-20 cents/gallon less on gasoline than all local competitors.
  • The Costco bakery and prepared foods are a good value.
  • They have good fresh fruit and veggies, but the quantities are usually too much, just two of us.
  • The house brand, Kirkland, is generally good value.
  • Good prices on basic clothing, but not couture.
  • We wouldn't buy any big ticket items without looking at Costco too, their prices on TVs, cameras, PC laptops, etc. are often the best around.
  • We've saved some money using Costco travel. They have many services some members don't even realize are available.
  • Their prices on glasses are lower than For Eyes or anyone else local.
  • Great prices on personal care items, though you have to accept larger quantities.
  • Better prices on soft drinks, cleaning products, most frozen and boxed foods, laundry.
  • Great wine selection at our Costco, but their wine/beer/liquor prices are often not as low as local discount liquor stores except buying larger sizes.
  • A choice for tires, but most local tire dealers are comparable.
It's been more than worth it for us, but you have to compare for yourself. We go about once every two weeks.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:25 AM   #12
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I use multiple such stores (Sams Club, BJs, and Costco). One thing that helps is that pretty much all of them let you add someone else (one free, reduced price after that), so I split the membership costs with a few friends/family members. For those wondering if the cost is "worth it", such an arrangement can help out the numbers. Though honestly, I save enough throughout the year to more than offset the membership costs.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:30 AM   #13
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We've been Costco members for years. Now that the kids are grown we thought we might not keep our membership, but so far it's still worth it. Some of the best bargains for us:

-- glasses/contacts

--contact solution. Two large bottles of Kirkland brand for $8 can't be beat

-- tires

-- rental cars

-- cinnamon and pure vanilla extract

-- natural peanut butter

-- printer cartridges

At Thanksgiving last year I bought a huge pumpkin pie for $5.99. I would've spent more on the ingredients if I baked it myself.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:34 AM   #14
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This falls into my category of - its only $60 right? Try it.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:40 AM   #15
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If you have access to great meats/seafood, produce, and wine at really good prices, then maybe it's not worth it to you.

We find the biggest draw is the high quality of what Costco carries. We buy mostly meat/seafood/poultry, fruits and vegetables, wine, eggs and some cheeses, oils, nuts, and the occasional non-perishable items. Then there are the prices - very good prices on top quality stuff. For us they have the best wine selection in town, and again incredible prices.

I also use Costco travel for great rental car deals.

We easily make back our membership fee from rebates even on top of the savings we get.

BTW, Costco refunds membership fees if you find you don't want it.

Also - you don't have to be a member to take advantage of their great prices on glasses, prescription drugs, or alcohol.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by clobber View Post
This falls into my category of - its only $60 right? Try it.
You're not even risking it. Costco will refund if you are not satisfied:
Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

On Membership: We will cancel and refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:52 AM   #17
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I have no idea who "Bridgette" is, but this is one of the funniest Costco stories I have ever read. Extremely well written. And also a near-perfect depiction of my one and only trip to Costco many years ago.

Top 10 reasons I hate Costco
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:52 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by broadway View Post
I live about 35 minutes from all the nearest Costcos.

So paying $ for the "privilege" of shopping there is not something I am willing to do.

I think you are letting emotion over ride logic. You should run the numbers. Do you ever happen to drive in that direction anyway. Even if Costco were 35 miles I would still join. Just the saving on tires makes it worth it for me. I would not go every week like I do now but I would go once a month and stock up and fill up.
The best Caribbean cruise deal I would find was on Costco.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:55 AM   #19
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Costco executive members, so 4% back on the gas, which is usually the cheapest around. I track mileage compulsively and appreciate the consistency of the fill-up and the confidence that the underground tanks are filled with fresh clean gas. We eat a huge amount of their rotisserie chicken - nobody else sells anything of comparable size, quality, and price. They often have great deals on odd stuff - hanging light ropes, faucets, batteries. Booze prices down in California are great.. Their quality/price balance is about where I like it - I might shop around and find something cheaper at WalCoMart, but often find it is missing features or quantity or composition of the Costco product. The employees tend to stay and seem happy.
Warranty? None better. I don't use it much, but when I have it is easy and fast.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:56 AM   #20
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My wife and I love Costco and have been members a long time. The concept actually started with Sol Price in San Diego (Price Club) which Costco bought out 20+ years ago. You want to avoid buying sizes you cannot go through but if you're careful it's a great spot for economical purchases. Here are items that I know are priced way below other stores:

--Wagners bird seed. Far cheaper that other stores and is of high quality
--Coffee beans. Much cheaper than elsewhere. Even better than on-line
--Wine. Great prices and almost a curated selection. The Kirkland brands are great as well for the price.
--Not that much cheaper, but I find their fruits and vegetables of high quality.
--Kirkland Toilet paper.

Lots of other stuff but these are the regular items I buy.

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