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Old 04-28-2014, 08:14 PM   #41
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Shop around for new printer inks. For my Epson Costco is considerable more $$ than I've found elsewhere (Fry's, office store sales). OTOH- Costco refills are competitively priced, although I have not tried 'em.

We tried Costco refills for our Canon printer. We could not tell a difference versus Canon, even for photos. Great value.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:23 PM   #42
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I've been curious about the Kirkland brand because some things have the Kirkland name and the Brand name. I was looking at the jelly beans for my bil, he loves Jelly Belly brand. The container had both Kirkland and Jelly Belly on it. So are the Kirkland brands just other brands that are made special for Costco and branded for them?
Yes

What's really impressive is that they get several wineries to produce Kirkland label wines which are sourced all over the world. The Kirkland champagne is "real" champagne from a French producer and a pretty good deal and very nice champagne, although I prefer the Washington sparkling wines at half the price.

http://costcowineblog.com/ lets you know when they consider a Kirkland wine a superior value in its category.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:42 PM   #43
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For ink refills we buy Sophia Global brand on Amazon for $2 a cartridge and then recycle them for $2 credit at one of the office supply stores. We use them on Canon printers. I replaced the downstairs printer to Canon as it was cheaper to buy a new printer than buy more expensive ink.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:49 PM   #44
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While I'm a big believer in "all good things come from Costco", I had horrible luck with their cartridge refills for our HP printer (which I also loathed). SWMBO won't allow me to go all Office Space on the POS. On the good side, I now have two $5 each yard sale Brother 7820N laser printers. The Checker of laser printers.
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:58 AM   #45
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The Costco sourced Canon refills we used, and were pleased with, were ordered online from Costco.com. I've heard the Costco in store refills are not as good but I have no experience with them.

With respect to Kirkland brand, at one stage of my career I worked for a consumer products megacorp selling to Costco. Some of the private label (i.e. Kirkland brand) products were identical to the national brand merchandised. These products were labeled "Kirkland" instead of the national brand in the production lines and shipped in Kirkland packaging. Other products were made to the national brand spec but modified for Costco/Kirkland to differentiate the offering from other stores. For example the Kirkland item might be a different color from the national brand or include a bonus accessory items inside the package. Finally, there were products made to Costco's specifications which differed from the national brand products. The Costco specifications were in some instances designed to deliver higher quality. In other instances the specification might be for lower quality ingredients or parts to hit a specific value price point. I might add, Costco also sourced some Kirkland brand products directly from factories without going through a national brand manufacturer.

While Kirkland brand products are generally high quality, and equal to or better than the national brand products, each product has its own specifications so the purchaser does need to examine or test each product to determine its utility.

We live in a period where the government's CPI is under reporting inflation. Raw material prices are increasing faster than the 2% inflation rate. Both retailers and manufacturers are responding by substituting raw materials, changing specifications, moving production to new factories and often new countries (i.e. shifting from China to Vietnam or Cambodia), changing package size (a 16 ounce can becomes a 14 ounce can), etc. All of these actions are being taken in an attempt to delay raising price per unit or package as long as possible. Unfortunately most of these actions have a negative impact on product quality.

The founder of Costco retired over a year ago. He was a hands on executive, highly involved in running the company at every level (store operations, product, etc). He was relentless about maintaining Costco standards. Since his departure, as a customer I've noticed subtle changes in both store operations and product quality. It may be his successors, faced with a margin squeeze with rising prices, are beginning to behave like traditional retailers and manufacturers -- cutting costs by reducing headcount and product quality. If so we consumers can expect to experience a decline in the customer and product experience that differentiated Costco from other retailers and allowed it to grow a strong consumer franchise. The longer checkout lines, dirtier floors in the store, and occasional stock outs I'm seeing in my local store are not a good sign. The decline in quality of the toilet paper is also a bad indicator.

Unfortunately businesses tend to change for the worse when visionary founders depart the company. Wal-Mart after Sam Walton's death lost its consumer intimacy as his successors rolled out monster stores and expanded internationally. Apple seems to be struggling with product vision and store operations post Steve Jobs. Starbucks struggled with the founder left until he was brought back to run the company again. Costco may be beginning to lose its way as professional management by the numbers and committee replaces a visionary founder who had a unique instinctive insight into the mind and behavior of the customer.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:20 AM   #46
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I recommend you look past the stumbling block of paying for a membership and see what you're missing. The difference in prices are so substantial that I try to avoid all other stores unless it's absolutely impossible to find a comparable item at Costco.
This thread is becoming very convincing. We'll probably take another look, and I think we can get a guest pass or something to go through the store and see.

But we'll take the Honda Accord instead of the pickup truck to limit what we bring home.
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:23 AM   #47
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Are you sure, might need a 60 inch screen and some deck umbrellas and a power washer and don't forget the TP.
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Old 05-04-2014, 09:16 PM   #48
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VITAMINS: For a year I subscribed to consumerlabs.org and they scientifically test all vitamins and nutritional supplements and report if what is on the label is true. The Kirkland brand was very well rated.

LAMB CHOPS: Good as a butcher's, better than the grocery store.

MALBEC WINE: Excellent!

GASOLINE: I try to fill up there, about .05-.10˘ per gallon cheaper than the name brand places.
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:40 PM   #49
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Barbequed some baby back ribs from Costco this past Friday. They were fantastic.
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:52 PM   #50
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...

LAMB CHOPS: Good as a butcher's, better than the grocery store.

...
Last Valentine's Day, I cooked up two of their racks of lamb (oddly small packaging for Costco, one was going to be on the small side for us).

They were out of this world. Just some salt, fresh rosemary & thyme, olive oil and a bit of pepper. Baked and then broiled to finish.

We also get the lamb chops regularly. So many good things there. I wish they would package their steaks in smaller sizes, seems they are 4-5 steaks to a pack, and that's $50 or so. Isn't a $25 package size more than enough for 'bulk packaging'? I'd rather not freeze them.

-ERD50
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Old 05-05-2014, 07:06 AM   #51
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+1 on the men's dress shirts...I have a bunch of them now. They last, and they look just as nice as shirts 3-4 times as expensive.
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Old 05-05-2014, 07:56 AM   #52
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Last Valentine's Day, I cooked up two of their racks of lamb (oddly small packaging for Costco, one was going to be on the small side for us).

They were out of this world. Just some salt, fresh rosemary & thyme, olive oil and a bit of pepper. Baked and then broiled to finish.

We also get the lamb chops regularly. So many good things there. I wish they would package their steaks in smaller sizes, seems they are 4-5 steaks to a pack, and that's $50 or so. Isn't a $25 package size more than enough for 'bulk packaging'? I'd rather not freeze them.

-ERD50
Yes - I'm also a big fan of their lamb. It's Austrailian lamb - tends to have a bit more flavor than the US lamb.

Try Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón), crushed garlic, olive oil and salt next time as a wet rub/marinade (paste) for the rack of lamb. Out of this world!

Paste based on this recipe - forget the syrup. Use smoked paprika instead on the chili powder and I usually leave the paste on for well over 30 mins. Half the paste recipe for one rack.
Rack of Lamb | Weber.com
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:09 AM   #53
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+1 on the men's dress shirts...I have a bunch of them now. They last, and they look just as nice as shirts 3-4 times as expensive.
The one complaint I have about their clothing is the limited selection of sizes. I wish there was a big & tall Costco!
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:23 AM   #54
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Walt,

I suspect I save more than the cost of the membership on almost every trip I make. Plus I buy the executive membership for $100 and get 2% back on all of my purchases at the end of the year. So if I buy at least $5,000 over the course of the year I get my membership back. If I buy more (which I always do), I make money on the membership.

The extremely generous return policy is also worth far more than the membership cost, and I've used it many times when things break, sometimes years after I first purchased them.

I recommend you look past the stumbling block of paying for a membership and see what you're missing. The difference in prices are so substantial that I try to avoid all other stores unless it's absolutely impossible to find a comparable item at Costco.
We got our first Costco last year but I haven't been there yet. Sounds like I should drive the five miles or so to it and see what everyone is talking about. I can't imagine spending $5000 at one store.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:07 AM   #55
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We got our first Costco last year but I haven't been there yet. Sounds like I should drive the five miles or so to it and see what everyone is talking about. I can't imagine spending $5000 at one store.

I think Costco is counting on shoppers to buy lots of stuff, to take advantage of the "rebate". Likely also true for cash-back and reward credit cards.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:24 AM   #56
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Actually, you get your membership back just from the great deals on quality merchandise. I can't get over how much cheaper their really high quality olive oil is, not to mention produce and meats. And gas. The rebates are just icing on the cake.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:41 AM   #57
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Actually, you get your membership back just from the great deals on quality merchandise. I can't get over how much cheaper their really high quality olive oil is, not to mention produce and meats. And gas. The rebates are just icing on the cake.
That's my experience. Last week I found two branded items we regularly buy at the grocers I had not previously seen at Costco (canned sardines and tuna, both in olive oil). The savings are more than 25%. Gasoline is around $.20 per gallon. Like ERD, we get their lamb chops regularly, they are delicious, and once in a while a whole beef tenderloin.
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Old 05-05-2014, 01:40 PM   #58
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Here is my favorite lamb loin chops recipe. Rosemary Lamb Chops | Weber.com
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Old 05-05-2014, 02:39 PM   #59
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I've run the numbers a couple of times and there is no way that paying double the membership fee (for the "executive" level) would pay off for us. Just don't spend enough there in the course of a year.

But the regular membership is absolutely a no-brainer, due to the lower prices. The higher quality in many cases is the icing on the cake. I use my Fidelity Amex card for purchases, so I get 2% cash back anyway.

And as I've said before, if you buy 39 shares of Costco stock, the dividends will cover the annual membership fee.
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Old 05-05-2014, 03:49 PM   #60
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The executive membership cash refund pays our entire membership fee twice over. This is in addition to our Amex refund. Takes a couple hundred a month to pay for itself. We do this on gas alone.

Also, can get a refund of the executive membership fee if it does not pay for itself so pretty much no brainer.
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