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Costo membership - worth it? must-tries etc.

I want to go and check out Costco but I heard that you can not even enter the stores without a membership.

I was wondering if it is really worth it to buy a $55 membership for two people? Where do you save the most money compared to other supermarkets? What are must try products?
How is the selection/price on cheese, bread and meat?


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  1. very ironic, i'm in the same position, supposed to be joining on Monday and have wondered the same, butin my case its only for 1 person, hence the ever-present trepidation

    1. Not everything they have is in MASS quantities. We love their meat. They have a lot of big quantity boxes ie; toilet paper, paper towels, tomato sauce, cheese and some of their produce. I do believe you can get a one day pass to explore the place. They have clothes and books (my wife likes that).

      1. "I heard that you can not even enter the stores without a membership."
        that's not true. you *can* go into the stores without a membership, and you can even purchase things there, but they charge non-members a premium for the "privilege." go there and check it out for yourself to see if you think their selection is appropriate for you...and if you search the board there are lots of threads about CHers' Costco faves, must-haves, and even products to avoid.

        8 Replies
            1. re: bbqdawg

              Sams lets you make any purchase and pay 5% more than marked prices if you are not a member; I have never seen Costco do that and have been a member since 1984. I shop weekly.

              EDIT: You can walk without showing membership to go to the pharmacy, see the in-store Optometrist or buy glasses and contact lenses.

              You have to show membership to make a purchase of the other items. I just called my store and asked.

              1. re: Cathy

                That varies with location (state law??). We walked around a Costco in Georgia as non-members recently, as were told by the optical guy that we had to be a member to use the department. I didn't get into the 5% additional issue with him, but the manager at the entrance said we could shop in the store for the 5% extra.

                1. re: Cathy

                  I agree that must vary by location. I usually avoid anything associated with Wal-Mart, but when we had to make a large purchase on a budget, a friend offered to let us use his Sams Club membership. He came with us and a store employee checked that someone in our group had a membership card before we could enter the store.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    I saw an ad for a 'one day membership pass' for Sam's Club. I figured it would be worth it to stock up- but the fine print said you must pay 10% of your purchase as a service fee!

                  2. re: bbqdawg

                    @bbqdawg Well, what do you want me to say? They stopped us and requested to see a membership card or sign up right there. Which we did.

                    1. re: josey124

                      I was replying to goodhealthgourmet. My comment was meant to support what you said, not attack it.

                2. They have a 1-year money back guarantee. I've seen it used many many times. As in, you can purchase a membership, use it for up to a year, and theoretically if you're not pleased, ask for a refund and they will refund your entire membership, no questions.

                  Now, for is it worth it for only two people? Probably not unless you're big eaters. Because everything is supersized there, and the prices reflect it. I'm still not convinced that anyone saves money at by buying at Costco. They may save time because they can shop for more and go less often, but dollar for dollar, you don't shop at Costco to save money. Unless someone gives me a side by side comparison, I'm of that opinion.

                  Having said all that, it's a no lose for you. Go buy a membership, try it out and see if it's for you. That's what I'm doing this year. I hate to say it, so far the only revelation I've had at Costco has been the $2 hot dogs and sundaes--but then again I can go eat those even without a membership.

                  46 Replies
                  1. re: Restaurant Dish

                    And, of course, there's much more to Costco than their food. I've purchased tires for 2 of our cars there this year alone, more than making up the cost of membership.

                    Our sons both get their contact prescriptions filled there. I use their online photo processing routinely. Even their car rental rates are good.

                    1. re: Restaurant Dish

                      <<<Now, for is it worth it for only two people? Probably not unless you're big eaters>>>

                      Quite a curious comment?? Just because you purchase 8 steaks doesn't mean that you sit down and eat them all???

                      1. re: easily amused

                        No, but not everyone wants to be eating steak, pork, or chicken from the FREEZER all the time and that's what you have to do if you buy 8 steaks and are only two people, isn't it?

                        Not to mention the 'supersize' everything else like chips, bread, mayo, BBQ sauce, cookies, cakes, seafood that you either have to freeze or deal with going bad if you don't finish by best before date.

                        Costco was not invented for two people to shop in. I find that you don't understand that kinda curious actually.

                        I will say that Costco is good for some non-food items but I'm not sure that warrants $100/yr membership, which is the one I have. Here in Canada, (Toronto) we also don't have the luxury of Costco gas, so maybe that would make a difference. We do have tires etc but I've not been sure of their quality in terms of labor.

                        Here's what I LOVE about Costco though: their customer service. I wish the supermarkets I frequent had that type of customer service. You can return anything, without question with a full refund - and they don't make you feel dumb. I've even seen people returning meat! Fantastic!

                        1. re: Restaurant Dish

                          >>>Costco was not invented for two people to shop in<<<

                          I have a Costco membership for a two person household and I shop there at least once a week. The price on milk alone is worth a membership.

                          1. re: diablo

                            Really? A whole membership on milk every week? Hmm. What's the cost at Costco and how much do you buy?

                            1. re: Restaurant Dish

                              A gallon of milk at Costco is $1.49 - $1.69 in NJ, so yes, this will pay for your membership for the year.

                              1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                Yes, I live in NJ, so jnk's response is right on the money, so to speak. Plus, I got a deal on my membership. They ran some special where if you join they give you a $25 gift card for the store. So I actually only paid $25 for my membership. I love it so much, though, I would renew for full price. I don't mind freezing things so I'll get the two pack of bread and freeze one. I'll get the four pack of filet mignon and freeze two, etc. I've also purchased clothes, books, shoes...all at a good discount, so, again, I don't understand why it would *not* be a good idea for a two person household. I've saved a ton on grocery shopping since joining. In this economy, I would think it's foolhardy not to join if you have the option, no matter the size of your household.

                                1. re: diablo

                                  I'd say this was a case of the U.S. vs. Canadian stores, but I've actually been to an N.J. location and I also have relatives in California who tell me how expensive it is, so not sure where you're finding all these 'deals'! I was surprised that you didn't need a membership card to shop at their licquor store too! How odd. I'd think that would have been a good reason to get membership out of customers.

                                  Costco is WAY more expensive than regular grocery stores. That's why everyone hasn't joined. It doesn't make sense. Sure, maybe the sale items are cheaper than other places but I don't find that is the norm. I'll say it again, Costco is an expensive place to shop. Yes, they have nice stuff, yes sometimes they have good sales, but on the whole, I stand by my comment that Costco was not invented for a 1 or two person family. I know that a 1 or 2 person family CAN shop there and freeze things, but that's also not the norm.

                                  Look, I'm glad that so many get pleasure shopping at Costco. But I'm not their PR person so feel no need to over-hype their usefulness or debate whether it's an economical place to shop. Just saying that from what I've seen, it's not an economical place to shop if you have fewer than 4 to 6 people in your family.

                                  1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                    We're a two person family and shop Costco at least once a month. MANY things aren't super-sized. Many. Like every other store, you have to know what you're doing. But we save money on almost everything we buy. We're VERY frugal shoppers so we know what we're talking about. Pehaps you shop differently than we.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Agreed! We're a 2 person vegetarian family, and find Costco membership totally worthwhile. Fantastic bargains on interesting cheese-- and that was the primary reason I joined (besides their great treatment of employees). I don't get much produce there, as I prefer shopping at Minneapolis-St. Paul co-ops. However, co-ops don't sell tires-- that's a non-food item that can make a year's membership pay for itself.

                                    2. re: Restaurant Dish

                                      I'm frugal as can be too. I have checked prices with a calculator oz. to oz. and Costco in my area beats the regular grocery prices. Sometime the sale price at the regular grocery is better and sometimes a really good coupon at the reg. grocery is a better deal. But I don't really want to spend massive amounts of time devising a sale based grocery list, so my Costco purchases give me the price anytime.

                                      We don't eat huge meals. Many of their packaged meats still work for us. They had beautiful wild salmon a few months ago. I cut it into 6 portions, 3 meals for 2 people. I seasoned each set differently and broiled. Ate one for dinner, the next set was mixed into a spread for sandwiches, the last set was the protein for a composed salad the next night.

                                      I'm making lasagna for guests next week - their price on ricotta, mozzarella and fresh Parmesan makes this affordable. Their quantities will cover the dinner party, leftovers for who ever wants them (usually everyone) and several single portions to freeze for brown bagging lunches. One of my favorite everyday red's is $4/bottle less at Costco - I drink it at least once per week, so a savings of $208/year right there!

                                      I'm thinking this may be a difference between countries...My SIL moved from Brooklyn to the Los Angeles area and still goes to Costco regularly. She feels the prices are comparable and better than most area grocery stores.

                                  2. re: Restaurant Dish

                                    well here we do four gallons of milk a week for our three person family...me husband and five year old....at a savings of 1.83 a gallon from the grocery...so yearly I save about 380.00...and it is better tasting.

                                    1. re: LaLa

                                      Holy cow! Y'all drink FOUR GALLONS of milk a WEEK???? No calcium difficiency in your family, huh? Wow.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        and I don't even drink it....I am allergic!

                                        1. re: LaLa

                                          I feel for you...we go through 2 gallons a week with my 2 year old. I rarely touch the stuff...Costco is a dairy lifesaver! Between milk and butter we more than justify our membership.

                                  3. re: diablo

                                    I shop at costco about once a month for a two member household. And the savings are fantastic! Especially since we're both unemployed at the moment. For example, i can get filet mignon for $9.99 /lb whereas the cheapest i can find in SF, on sale, is usually around 15.99 /lb. I freeze what ever I won't use that week. I also buy all my booze there, which saves me a ton in $ as well.

                                    I buy all my paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper there in bulk too. Plus, I saved money on movies, bath towels and various other items at a good price.

                                    I also like some of the kirkland brands of stuff, like olive oil for every day usage.

                                    It's not the place for my weekly shopping, but it has kept me in steak whilst I've been unemployed!

                                    1. re: diablo

                                      I just joined - I'm a single person and I live alone. So far, I've stocked up on organic milk, soy milk, olive oil, chicken stock, kitty litter, organic tomato sauce, organic apples, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, fish oil capsules (my dogs get 3 a day each). My boyfriend has come with me to buy meats and bags of potatoes. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get my money's worth out of it.

                                    2. re: Restaurant Dish

                                      I joined Costco for free the first year when it opened about a mile from my house and found that it was worth paying the membership fee even for a single person like myself. I have certain beauty products and medicines I use fairly regularly that cost anywhere from 50-75% more at other stores. I can get a 6-12-month supply of a few products in one visit and that will typically recoup the membership costs.

                                      There are plenty of other non-bulk items that are cheaper too- like books, DVDs, video games, electronics, and clothing.

                                      As for the food, most of it is in very large sizes. If you think you'll be buying enough of the other stuff, then the food is really only a bonus. I live about 45 minutes away from Costco now, so any refrigerated food is limited to a small cooler.

                                      1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                        We now have Costco Gaz at many Costco around Montreal, they are usually 2-3c a liter cheaper than the other gas stations.

                                        As for a membership, i live alone and manage to make the most of my membership with some food items both dry/canned and fresh, gas and household staples (toilet paper, garbage bags) and that's not counting the other items i might have purchased in the past years such as Books and DVD's that are often cheaper than other stores.

                                        1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                          Tire service is great. I'm lucky that my inlaws are in the states. I bought tires down yonder (Michelin) and have have them serviced up here. Twice I drove over something puncturing the tire. Fixed free of charge. They rotate them free of charge as well.
                                          Their oil changes are pretty cheap too.

                                          To say that it's not for a two person household is absurd. There's plenty of things you can buy there cheaper than at another store. It will more than make up for the savings.


                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            That's good to know. Like I said, I've had it for a year and I haven't really seen any really stellar deals that I couldn't get elsewhere and I guess I'm just not a fan of having large sizes of items, like we've been working on a mayo jar for the last little while and it expires in Dec. so I doubt we'll finish by then. Also disappointing is the selection here in Canada vs. U.S. I find many more interesting food items in U.S. I just don't know why you'd want to shop there as a two-person household? A jar of mayo for example is just as cheap at grocery store if you get on sale than a larger one that might be good value, but you'll never fully use. Kind of defeats the purpose IMO. And that's what it is, my opinion.

                                            I will check out the oil change and tire thing though cause last time I got hosed at Mr. Lube.

                                            1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                              Not sure how Costco sources product in Canada, but here in Illinois I've been seeing more multi-packs of retail size product than jumbo tubs. Years ago I shopped at the long-defunct Warehouse Club which was chock-full of #10 cans of just about everything. My local Costco has but a few items in #10 can size (notably San Marzano tomatoes for about the same price as a "large" can in the chain groceries).

                                              1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                It's precisely why I don't by mayo at Costco.

                                                It's like going to any other store. If you don't bother to check against the competitor, you'll save money on some items and not on others.

                                                I'm not sure you're right about the selection here in Canada. I go to the one in Huntsville, Al. alot. It's different but once you're used to what they have, it seems like the same old stuff. It's just perspective.


                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                  I think it's a little more than just perspective. And I find it shocking, yes shocking, that an Alabama Costco would have the same items/brands as a Scarborough or Mississauga Costco. In fact, I'd be surprised if they did, save for a few staple items. When I went to the NJ one, I didn't see a thing in that trip that I've ever seen here, including San Marzano tomatoes, types of snacks, sauces, and frozen products.

                                                  1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                    I didn't say they have the same items as one in Mississauga. I said, once you're used to the items they have there, it's not as special to go there any more.
                                                    I went to one in Indianapolis earlier this year. It was different. I'm sure if I went there all the time it would be same ole, same ole.


                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      So then what are we talking about then? I said the U.S. Costco has different, maybe even 'better' items than the Canadian ones I've been too. Then you said, yeah it's different but if you keep going to the same one, it'll seem the same. Whaaaa??? I think you are agreeing with me. But maybe it took a few posts to get there.

                                                      1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                        Maybe I am and just don't know. What I'm trying to say is, the US stores seem better because you see stuff that you don't see here in TO. If the roles were reversed and you came here from you local California Costco, it would seem more interesting because it's a bunch of stuff you've not seen before.

                                                        Get it??


                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                          Yep, I 'get it'. But I 'don't agree'.

                                                          I'm going to use the same example that a recent poster on here just used: that's like saying that it's all in my head that the clothes at Nordstrom are better than the clothes at Wal Mart! Does. Not. Make. Any. Sense.

                                                          Now, you can argue 'better' is relative. And it is. I may enjoy great Spanish, Greek olive oils and San Marzano tomatoes and so that appeals to me more when I see that at the U.S. Costco, whereas here, I seem to see the same olive oil and same can of tomatoes. It seems that every time I go to U.S. and I usually go to the same Costco, that they have 'new' products which I just don't see here in my Costco. Maybe your Costco is different here in Canada, don't know.

                                                          1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                            The Costco business model is to turn over an item in 14 days but wait 30-45 days to pay the vendor. That's how the company makes money. There are "regular" items that last more than 14 days as well as "seasonal" items that show up and then vanish for a year. There are also locally produced but similar items in all stores (bread, dairy, some meats, fish and fowl. Kielbasas are in each store, but it is Hillshire Farm brand in San Diego and Kowalski brand in Detroit for example).

                                                            I very much disagree that Costco sells poor quality items. I personally know buyers from different departments and the whole philosophy each has told me over the years is quality is primary with bulk pricing secondary. The fact that the food buyers started concentrating on organic products more than six years ago shows me that they are quality as well as cost conscious.

                                                            The fact that you can return any item even years after purchase (until people started abusing the electronics return policy) if dissatisfied shows the confidence the company has in what it sells.

                                                            1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                              I was commenting to you about not seeing 'new' items. Certainly you have had Halloween and Christmas decor, foods and gifts in your stores, right?

                                                              The person who was commenting about Walmart vs Nordstrom quality seems to have been vanquished. That was the other part of my comment.

                                                              ..as well as rambling...

                                                            2. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                              I think we're both in the GTA, no?? I usually go to the two north of Major Mack in RH and NM. Both are good.

                                                              Where is the one in the US that you usually go to??


                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                Yes, GTA but I usually go to the Warden Ave. one out of more convenience. I think I'll try the RH one to check any difference.

                                                                I go to a few when I'm in NJ/NYC and they are in the Short Hills/Montclair areas. Checked out the one in Brooklyn once, it was neat. Had some good deli and cheeses there.

                                                                A writer friend was going to do a comparison on shopping at Costco for a month vs. regular grocery store and compare, but not sure what happened to that article. I'd love to see the results.

                                                                1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                                  The Warden one sucks. It's closest to my Godparents and they go to the RH one. The one at Elgin Mills and 404.

                                                                  It's too bad there aren't any in the WNY area.


                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                    That might be the problem then. I'll check out the other one.

                                                                    And yes, it is too bad. It'd be nice to hop over the border and get some U.S. products other than those at Wegman's.

                                                                    1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                                      try their jelly bellies around easter, with coupon. that's half of what "banged up mishappen" costs at the factory.

                                                    2. re: Davwud

                                                      Gotta disagree with you there, DT. My wife always goes to Costco when she's in the states, just because she feels they have many items that don't show up on Canadian shelves.

                                                    3. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                      Don't let yourself get hung up on expiration dates. Being a single person, I buy their large size Mayo; and I'm sure I have consumed some that has "expired". Can't tell the difference. This suggested expiration date does not meant that you will get sick if you consume the product and, like I said, I can't tell the difference and I'm generally particular on quality, in addition to being a "brand snob". Also, I scoop it out of the large container and put some in canning jars (pint and pint and half size). They fit better in my refer than the large original jar. THAT is my chief conplaint!

                                                      1. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                        Oh, really... you must not like beef much. their choice is best on the market, bar none. And if your supermarket has anything like the cost /lb. for 50lb. flour bags, I want to know where you're shopping.

                                                        People drive 100 miles to shop at my costco. I save tons of money... After all, who can't eat 10lbs of carrots before they go bad? same with five of onions...

                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                          Agree that Costco meat is pretty good, but RD mentioned Wegmans, and Wegmans' beef is better, without question, IMO. Of course, if you don't happen to live near a Wegmans, that's not much help.

                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                            Hate to bust your bubble but, USDA Choice, USDA Prime et al pretty much all come from about 5 processing houses in the US and get shipped to various retailers. Wegman's is no better than the other super markets. What we choose to pay is a personal choice.

                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                              Hate to bust your bubble but there are more than 5, and individual chain buyers can and do exercise leverage on the quality of meat that packers send them. There are subgrades and other specs within the general grades of choice, prime. etc., that are transparent to the shopping public but are used in the business, some official and some not. Some Wegmans stores, by the way, have their own in-store aging rooms and sell their own dry-aged beef.

                                                              Bottom line -- There can be big differences in the quality of beef that shows up within any particular grade category, and some stores do indeed make it a point to buy the better stuff. There are, also of course, differences among individual pieces in any given meat case, which is where personal knowledge of what makes different pieces better comes into play.

                                                              1. re: johnb

                                                                *tsk* *tsk* think you're changing subject on me. i said Costco's choice beef was best (for choice beef)... do you routinely buy choice beef from Wegmans? if so, is it "juicier"?

                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                  probably depends on how it's cooked, unless cooking is included at Wegman's!

                                                    4. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                      Actually, that is only if more than half is left. I had a 4 pack of tuna when I noticed that the last can was bulging. They wouldn't let me return it because I had already eaten the other 3 cans. I left it there.

                                                  2. re: Restaurant Dish

                                                    I'm a one person two dog household and I have found being a member very worthwhile... for 15 years now.

                                                    I use my FoodSaver sealer and freeze meats. I use my Green bags for veggies. I buy tires and toilet paper and vitamins and prescriptions... It's perfect when I have parties.

                                                    As for what's good to eat. Their smoked salmon is an amazing deal. And you can freeze smoked salmon easily. For holiday baking I stock up on their dried fruit and nuts.

                                                    1. re: Jennalynn

                                                      One person, 3 big dogs. The savings in kibble alone more than pays for my membership. The Kirkland dog and cat kibbles are very highly rated by independent organizations that test pet food quality. A 40# bag costs slightly more than a 20# bag of comparable quality supermarket food. If I bought the latter, I would spend about $70 per month. Buying at Costco, it's around $44. My other "every time" purchases there are vitamins/supplements, dish detergent, shampoo, cheese, and store-baked bread (comes in 2-loaf packs; I slice both and freeze one loaf). Frequent purchases include 3# bags of nuts, rotisserie chicken, books, onions, wine for cooking, peanut butter.

                                                  3. tires, computers, books, glasses, wine, produce, great steaks - ribs - cheese - roasted chicken, paper goods, in season stuff like fertilizer. We just priced a safe at Home Depot $269/same safe but better at Costco for $229.

                                                    I have an executive membership and I buy a regular one for all my emploees and their spouses/partners.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. You should give it a try...I buy all of my gas there as it's at least ten cents cheaper per gallon. Plus, with my Costco Am Ex card I get 3% back at the end of the year...last year with gas hovering at $4 that came in handy. My contacts, which are really pricey, are $100 cheaper than at doctors office. The wine is a good deal as are their premium cheeses. Our best deal was a beautiful teak patio set that we saved hundreds on compared to Smith & Hawken. I think you may find that even though there are only two of you there are bargains to be had.

                                                      20 Replies
                                                      1. re: grouper

                                                        Well, I won't get to the question of whether Costco is or isn't cheaper overall, but your comparison of Costco against Smith & Hawken for patio furniture is at best questionable--that's like saying shop for clothes at Wal-mart because they're cheaper than Nordstrom. Duh. You're talking about stores and goods that aren't even in the same universe, and any "comparison" simply isn't valid. Even if the goods were under the same label, they may be very different in quality. Now a comparison between Costco and, say Target, that might be more useful. As for optical, I recently bought glasses at For Eyes that were cheaper than the same thing at Costco. Again, the outcome of the comparison depends on who you're comparing with.

                                                        1. re: johnb

                                                          Actually Sams and Costco get lots of items that are "high dollar name brands" .

                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                            Your comparisons to Target and Wal-Mart are not valid at all. I've never seen a Target that carries $14,000 engagement rings, $700 office chairs, or $3000 mattresses, all of which are available for purchase at Costco. Also featured online are $1000+ espresso makers and wine cellars and fairly high-end appliances.

                                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                                Yes. I've never quite figured that one out.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  Funeral homes, cemeteries, florists, the church...its all a business. Law says you do not have to buy everything from one place. You are charged separately for the rental of a viewing room, embalming, the casket...and lots of other ancillary items. People are emotional and for the most part buy a package.

                                                                  I looked into it; an oak one from Costco was about $200 cheaper than the funeral home charged.

                                                                  Lots of laws, have to buy and send to a funeral home in the same state. Much fine print if you read the Costco.com page.

                                                                  On the other hand, bulk flowers are a great deal...

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Put it on the dead person's AMEX card...and see if they collect.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      This is a wonderful image. Roll the casket up to the cash register. The lid opens, and the hand of the dearly departed reaches out to sign the cc slip.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      They sell cradles, caskets and everything you need in between.

                                                                    3. re: Cathy

                                                                      I was going to bring that one up, but didn't want to get chastised for it not being a funeral home.

                                                                    4. re: queencru

                                                                      Sorry, I wasn't trying to compare Costco as a store to, say, Target as a store. I was only pointing out that saying Costo is cheap, and offering as evidence a comparison of something it sells to a product of the same genre at a place like Smith & Hawken is not valid, because it's a false comparison--Smith & Hawken, unless it has recently changed its business model, is a very high end, very high markup retailer, and I would expect them to always be significantly more expensive than just about anybody. When making product price comparisons to show how economical Costco is, it's more appropriate to make comparisons with products being sold in stores that are at least in the same retail orbit.

                                                                      I'm sure Costco is reliably inexpensive, and if one is positioned to shop there a lot for things they would buy anyway, and doesn't mind the downsides (the drive depending on one's proximity, the long lines, the lack of bagging, etc.) then it is a fine choice and worth the cost of the membership. But in threads like this one often sees inappropriate price comparisons. Here's another example. Folks often point out that Costco's paper goods are inexpensive, based on comparison with grocery store prices. Costco certainly is cheap compared to the "regular" price in supermarkets. But is this valid? My wife and I used to own a B&B, and believe me I bought LOTS of toilet paper. Some toilet paper is nearly always on sale in the supermarket, and any given brand/type is generally reduced on a regular cycle. I found that I could buy all the toilet paper I needed at the supermarket for essentially the same price as Costco, simply by stocking up when they put it on sale, a common shopping strategy. Same thing is true of many many things. So the real comparison between Costco and the supermarket should not be be the "regular" supermarket price (which in my view isn't the real price to start with but an artificial price to trap the unwary), but the so-called sale price (which is in my view the true price).

                                                                      Sure, it's convenient to be able to go to Costco and know you'll get the good price any time, but for the average person a shopping trip to Costco takes longer than the local supermarket, and involves extra hassles. And most people find they have to go to the supermarket frequently anyway. So whether the reliably lower prices are worth the extra shopping time and hassle, and membership fee, is not always the slam dunk that some say it is. It depends on the individual's situation, shopping strategies, and preferences. Those who are pondering whether to get a membership, and actually care about such nuances, should factor that in.

                                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                                        Again, I think you're trying to compare apples to oranges. I do not shop at Costco a lot, nor do I need to. Much of the stuff I buy there comes in large quantities that will last me for at least 3-4 months before I need to go back. Yes it is a farther drive, but in some areas, the cost is only 25% of what you'd find in other stores. For instance, I just got a generic of a daily use allergy medicine for $16 for 365, while the cheapest I've seen on sale at any other store is $27 for 120. Many of the other products I buy there are also less than 50% of the cost of what I've seen elsewhere, so even if there is a 2 for 1 sale in a regular store, I've saved money at Costco. Costco also does send the sale booklet and in some areas I've seen up to a $450 or more savings on items like computers and large TVs.

                                                                        Whether Costco is going to be worth it depends on what each person needs and plans on buying there. I would not recommend going there for the weekly shopping trip, but I still think it's a great value for other things like health/beauty, books, DVD sets, clothes, and a variety of other items.

                                                                        1. re: johnb

                                                                          To your TP example, where jfood lives, even on sale the TP at Costco is at least 20% less expensive than the grocer's on-sale price.

                                                                          But you bring up a valid point of the old addage..."know your prices."

                                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                                            Smith & Hawken did recently change it's business model.

                                                                            It's going out of business.

                                                                            1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                              If you look just below you will see this has already been brought into the discussion. But it doesn't change the essential point--if anything, it may reinforce it. To restate, price comparisons for a given type item (patio furniture; toilet paper, whatever) are valid only when comparing the prices charged by retailers who are of similar kind, and thus are a practical alternative. The fact that Costco sells patio furniture more cheaply than some super high end high markup luxo retailer is a false comparison and really isn't very helpful for someone who is trying to decide whether to join Costco.

                                                                              1. re: johnb

                                                                                I don't think it's a false comparison at all. If you want to buy a specific item and it's $50 at Costco and $150 at a department store, that's useful to know when making a decision. It makes more sense to compare retailers who sell the same items at the same time than to compare retailers based on their categorization as a discount warehouse or luxury department store. If you're talking about $10K+ engagement rings, you really have to compare the merchandise with other stores that would sell it.

                                                                                1. re: queencru

                                                                                  The reason it's a false comparison is because the purpose of this thread, as stated by the OP at the beginning, is to learn whether they should go ahead and get the membership in Costco. Please reread the original post. It is clear that the OP, like many others in the past who have posted this same question about getting a membership in Costco, is really asking whether the extra saving THEY will achieve will be greater than the membership fee. To answer this question meaningfully and helpfully, it is necessary to compare prices charged by Costco with prices in stores where the OP would otherwise be likely to shop. The OP specifically mentioned groceries, so for this thread the most helpful comparisons would be with typical supermarkets. But even if the OP's interest had been patio furniture, it is obvious they are price-sensitive, and as such it is extremely unlikely that their alternative would be a high end, high markup luxury retailer such as the dearly departed Smith & Hawken or others like it. Rather, their alternative would be a place like Home Depot or Target or another low-markup retailer of that ilk. That is why the price comparison with S&H is "inappropriate" or "false."

                                                                                  I'm sure that just about any item sold at Costco can be found somewhere at 2 or 3 times Costco's price, say for example Bloomingdales or Nordstroms or Tiffany or Whole Foods. Does that prove, or even suggest, that Costco has the lowest prices to be found out there, thus justifying the membership fee? No. To be helpful, price comparisons have to be made with appropriate and meaningful comparators, i.e. the true alternatives available for the particular item in question. My point over several posts now (this is the last one) is that luxury department stores and other high markup retailers are not, by any stretch of the imagination, meaningful comparators that will help anyone decide whether the upfront cost of joining Costco is money well spent.

                                                                              2. re: Jennalynn

                                                                                Part of the company does still live on in licensing agreements. Target sells many housewares and outdoor goods under the Smith & Hawken name.

                                                                        2. re: grouper

                                                                          The Smith and Hawken business model, unfortunately, did not work. Jfood will really miss that store for the orchids.


                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            Very interesting. It is said S&H's founders were recommending people boycott the place, since its most recent owner was Scotts Miracle-Gro, who didn't fit the organic/sustainability idea they put forth in their time. Of course I doubt that had much to do with its demise; write that off to the current economic climate. Frou-frou and high markups are out, low prices are in. Good for Costco, needless to say. Also Wal-mart.

                                                                        3. Coffee - Kirkland Columbian coffee is great for the price. We used to buy 20 pounds at a time (no costco in our town so had to drive several hundred miles to get to one). Cheeses are a good buy. If you eat such stuff, cereals, chips, crackers, and snacks are a good buy. Electronics, some small appliances, vitamins, etc. are good buys. But beware, not all the prices are lower than your grocery store - you need to know what you pay for cheerios, for example to compare.

                                                                          I'd always look longingly at the meats and produce, but with two people in our household it was not feasible to buy in the quantities offered by Costco.

                                                                          Also we often found great buys on wine and beer.

                                                                          We mainly bought the beverages I mentioned, and still felt the membership was worth it.

                                                                          1. You do need to watch out with some of the "bargains," however. We were shopping for a low-tech vcr/dvd player and they had one model under $100. When we got home we looked up the comments on Amazon and it was almost unanimously declared a piece of junk. So I suspect Costco will occasionally be suckered into taking some products that vendors want to get rid of.

                                                                            But as far as the big moneysavers like tires & glasses, along with the food, you can't beat it.

                                                                            1. It works well for me, you can pay for your with the savings on gasoline alone. I bought a set of tires, no one could even come close to their price. Other values, on meats including USDA Prime, cheese and wine are also pretty un-beatabe. I also use their free AMEX card which combine with membership gives me 5% cash back annually. Also, if you don't like Costco, they'll refund your membership, no questions asked. Not much risk at all.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                The two of us get a membership but we stretch it out by stocking up on non-perishables the month it expires so a membership actually lasts us about 18 months. Most items we depend on are not food items so I won't distract the Chowhound community with those.

                                                                                1. re: mickie44

                                                                                  We do exactly the same thing. We're buying our "new" membership now, because we're low on bathroom tissue. The other up-side of this is that you can take advantage of any membership premiums they're offering when you get your new membership, which you cannot do when you renew.

                                                                              2. This is a very timely topic for me, as I just purchased a membership (w/ my husband) and visited Costco today for the very first time to use it (location- Northern VA, close to the Pentagon). My husband and I are not likely Costco consumers as it's just the two of us (plus a fat little dog, but not THAT big of an eater) with a tiny apartment. Still, we had a fun time, minus the crowds. Bought some pristinely fresh, marinated, cooked shrimp for dinner tonight, along w/ their double loafs of roasted garlic bread (ate 1/2 the loaf tonight w/ the rest in the freezer). A bottle of Coppola claret that I'm currently enjoying, a waffle undershirt, a bag of dried mangos, and a bag of raw almonds (which I then roast myself in the oven w/ a little bit of salt). Total price for the day- less that $100 and we were clearly an anomaly. We didn't take a push-cart and naively asked for a hand-basket and were laughed at- not a common request at Costco, I suppose.

                                                                                Confession time- the real reason I bought the membership was for the jewelry. I'm pricing diamond necklaces and Costco has every other place beat including the wholesalers in NY. I expect that purchase along will pay for the membership. Just don't tell my husband. Or the dog.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: mjhals

                                                                                  Their dog food is good quality and cheap.


                                                                                  1. re: mjhals

                                                                                    The organic spinach (1 lb. package) is the best price we can find in town.

                                                                                  2. By all means it is worth it. My wife and I joined a little over a year ago at a new store in Northern Florida. There are three of us at home, with three cars. We got the "premium" membership for $100 and it comes with an American Express card at no charge. The first year of membership, we got a rebate of about $400. As another poster noted, gas is about a dime cheaper and we get a 3% discount on top of that, in the year end rebate. So gas is really another 8 cents cheaper on top of the dime.

                                                                                    The food there is not just about gallons of mayonaise. Yes, you have to buy larger sizes, but sometimes it is just two bottles of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce shrink wrapped together. The meats are great, particularly steaks. You buy 3-4 in a package so if you are having company, it is worthwhile. Sometimes they even have USDA Prime, something you will never see in a regular supermarket. Roast chickens are cheaper than you can cook at home and about half of other supermarket prices.

                                                                                    Cheese selection is best in town and the wine is extraordinary. If you see a rare wine, get it then as they won't necessarily stock it. Same goes for other items as well. they may get a carload of something, and then it is gone.

                                                                                    The chairman of the company is eccentric and will not allow any item in store to be marked up more than 14% over cost. They sell tires for less than local tire shops buy them wholesale.

                                                                                    Finally, they have a generous return policy. I took back a receipt for some pork that had been packaged with lots of fat underneath, and a picture, and got a refund. In fact, of the five or six items I have returned, there is always a cheeful 100% refund with no hassle.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: steakman55

                                                                                      I think they're doing a better job with same items and are packaging two smaller rather than one gigantic.

                                                                                    2. We have a membership for a two person household. I would keep it if I became a solo shopper. Between just coffee, gasoline, campari tomatoes, organic spring mix and Kashi cereal our savings pays for itself.

                                                                                      Cheese, meats, seafood, wine and roast chicken are purchased regularly. I have also purchased and saved large amounts on various white goods and electronics.

                                                                                      Most of our food purchases are fresh. Our canned/boxed purchases are generally once or twice a year. The canned goods are an economic way for us to give more food to food drives.

                                                                                      Their customer service has been great. We had several $$$ returns that were handled easily with absolutely no problem. I now ask the return desk if an item I am considering has had many problems - they have steered me away from a few things, which I appreciated!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                        Just buy the membership and return it after 364 days. No worries at all. Is what I did, says right in the rules in plain English you may return the membership within 1 Year and get your entire amount of money back. Have fun Josey.

                                                                                        1. re: Woof Woof Woof

                                                                                          "Just buy the membership and return it after 364 days. No worries at all."
                                                                                          Yeah that's why prices never goes up.

                                                                                      2. I live alone and love Costco. I do have an extra freezer and freeze meats, breads, etc.

                                                                                        I also split most fresh produce with a friend.

                                                                                        Here is an older link, from here:


                                                                                        1. No membership needed to purchase medication at their pharamacy or getting contacts or glasses. They will take your prescription and insurance and it will still be cheaper than other places. No membership needed to eat at their snack shop either.

                                                                                          1. I like Costco, but you have to keep your eyes open. I remember seeing a special on shaving cream for example - 3 cans wrapped together - but I thought the price was a bit high so I didn't get it. When I went to the local drug store, I found they were selling single cans (not on special) for less than Costco's per can price.

                                                                                            Same thing with meats. Sure, you can buy a nice pack of 8 New Yorks at Costco, and get good quality meat, but unless you're inviting a bunch of people, I find it more convenient to visit a local high end grocery, pay about the same price per pound, and just get the two or three steaks I need.

                                                                                            Other grocery items: you need to know what you're going to pay at your local grocery, how often you use stuff, and whether you use enough of it often enough to justify purchasing a massive box/can/jar. (And I agree with other posters - sometimes, they just shrink wrap two or three cans together, which makes it easier to decide.) For example, I like smoked tinned oysters, which are usually $1-$1.25 per tin at my grocery. Costco had 6 tins for $4.85, so I bought those. But oysters can sit on the shelf for months. Costco also offers 3 packs of bread, but I don't even use 1 loaf per week, and I have no room in my freezer, so this is not a bargain for me.

                                                                                            Overall, they have enough stuff at good prices (books, magazines, basic clothes) that they make sense for me, especially as I fill a lot of prescriptions there. YMMV.

                                                                                            1. The food items jfood purchases:

                                                                                              Coffee,granola bars, campari tomatoes, organic lettuces, cheeses, bottled water, gatorade, soda, OJ, grapes, onions, party food when the kids are home;


                                                                                              Batteries, books, soap, cleaning supplies, napkins, paper towels, TP, socks, plastic bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil

                                                                                              Yes it is worth it even for a 2-top in jfood's opinion.

                                                                                              1. So, we went on Saturday and signed up for 1 year. First of all, we really liked the poutine and hot dog!! That was a nice surprise.
                                                                                                We really looked a stuff where we know the prices and didn't find everything is cheaper. Some stuff is actually a lot more expensive than at Superstore. But other things were cheaper (like juice, shampoo). The smoked oysters were a little over $1 and they are usually $2,99! That was a steal! I liked the cheese and the fresh ravioli/tortellini selection. The canned veggie selection was disappointing but the frozen food variety was good.
                                                                                                The one thing that convinced me though was the Bavarian Rye Bread from BC. The price is great ($5.49/over 1kg) and it really tastes authentic (I am originally from Bavaria so I should know eh?). I love it!
                                                                                                Overall, I think we won't save much (if any with the $55 membership) but I like that I can get stuff I usually can't esp. the bread).
                                                                                                Thanks for all your input, I am glad we went and tried it.

                                                                                                1. We are only 2 people but we do save enough on paper goods, vitamins, cleaning supplies to pay the membership fee. And 2 people can eat the T bone steak and rotisserie chicken. I've bought some Speedo woman's bathing suits for less than 1/2 the advertised price plus a few huge beach towels, beach umbrella and bed-bath stuff.for a song.
                                                                                                  For gifts they have quality cashmere sweaters, electronics, books, toys, baby clothes, candy, discounted gift cards (Starbucks) etc.that are name brands and about 2/3 retail or less. If you contribute to a food pantry you can really stretch a few dollars on canned goods. If you cook for a youth group or shelter there are restaurant size quantities dirt cheap for say a pancake breakfast or a spaghetti dinner. The place is a mecca for people having cookouts or any large party. Great prepared foods for entertaining or pot luck. You can get a huge layer cake decorated to order for under 15 dollars. Terrific cheese, smoked fish, fruit and hors d'ouvres. People are addicted to their baked goods and they are super cheap. I think I deserve free membership after writing all this but I do like the place.

                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: ginnyhw

                                                                                                    Depending on what you buy, myself and friends have saved money on the following:
                                                                                                    -car purchase
                                                                                                    -car rental
                                                                                                    -empty propane tanks
                                                                                                    -garden hoses
                                                                                                    -USDA prime steaks
                                                                                                    - milk
                                                                                                    - clothes (Dockers, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Van Heusen, etc)
                                                                                                    - birthday party cakes for kids
                                                                                                    -Turbo Tax
                                                                                                    -Hunter-Douglas blinds
                                                                                                    -GPS unit

                                                                                                    ...and many other things. Typically our membership (wife + myself) pays for itself over the course of a year. If you order things online and don't like them, you can return to the store for full refund (even shipping charges). Their return policy is among the best anywhere.

                                                                                                    Usually the refund on membership fees is prorated, ie if you have been a member for 10moonths they will refund 2 months worth of your membership... I doubt you will get a full refund after being a member for 11months and 28 days.

                                                                                                    1. re: caliking

                                                                                                      And let's not forget 10% off postage stamps, man if they could only expand that program to 10% of income tax. :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                        In what part of the US does Costco sell postage at a discount? Here it's merely a convenience, excepting that they bought up the Forever stamp and now sell it at 25 cents off the cost of 100 at the current rate. So, Costco saved on the deal, but the member only saves 25 cents and a trip to the post office. Not complaining, by any means, but I would love to know where they sell at 10% off, in case I travel there!

                                                                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                              So, to clarify, you all pay $39.60 for 100 Forever stamps in CT, Brooklyn, and SC? Kansas Costco members pay $43.75 for the same.

                                                                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                San Diego Costco members pay $43.75. Apparently you need to be farther North and East to get the deals.

                                                                                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                  Los Angeles here. I bought Holiday stamps at a 25 cent savings for 100. But I was there and it saved me a trip to the post office.

                                                                                                              2. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                In both Indianapolis and Huntsville (Al.) on our Thanksgiving trip I noticed 100 44c stamps for $43.75


                                                                                                          1. There's only two people in my house, but there's nine cats and Costco has been a boon for our cat food/litter needs. Our Costco is an older one so we can't get the nifty stuff like deli and rotisserie chicken--supposedly they were going to build in a new location but that hasn't happened yet--but it still has a lot of good stuff. About the only thing I won't buy there is produce because with the exception of carrots it's just too much to use before it goes bad. That being said, I've bought everything from rib roasts to iPods there.

                                                                                                            1. Do I think being a member of Costco or BJ’s is worth it, yes.
                                                                                                              Would I pay for it if I was only shopping for 2 no. You can get two different cards as part of your membership so I think its in your best interest to share one membership, obviously cutting the costs out right. The deli and meat selection is great, as is the prepared foods and not all of it is in bulk, and lets face it there’s no reason you cant buy things like paper towels, TP, detergent, water, pasta, cat litter/food, canned goods as well as some frozen foods in bulk. At the one I visit most frequently in queens they have an attached liquor depot as well, not the best selection but they usually have some stand-by bottle of wine if your in a pinch for cheaper then a regular NYC liquor store. Plus not everything IS in bulk; you can get plenty of items in their store in smaller sizes, or split items like my family does. I also like that they usually have quite a few items as samples everyday so you can decide that you like something before buying 5 lbs of it. Obviously I don’t do all of my regular shopping there, but for the staples I do use on a daily bases it’s a good resource to have.
                                                                                                              And as others have mentioned, I have utilized other discounts I get with them on rental cars and vacation items in the past.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Asumnuthin

                                                                                                                We were members for years, but have dropped the membership even for our family of 4. If you are a careful shopper at the grocery store, you'll do better there if you shop the sales. However, we did find it worth it for two items: diapers and formula. And dog food is well priced there. Especially when we were in NYC where the dog food was !$/pound at the Food Emporium across the street, and we could get a 50 lb bag of dog food for 14$ at Costco

                                                                                                              2. If you look at Costco's financial statements they are very interesting. They basically break even on selling stuff and running their stores. The net profit from operations come from membership fees!.

                                                                                                                1. I have a love/hate relationship with the store. You don't need to buy bulk quantities of food to make the membership worthwhile, but you have to buy enough stuff there to justify. I am single and I think the membership fee is too high, especially considering you have to know your prices-some things I get cheaper at Target-you can't count on the prices being the lowest. I hate them b/c I think they are greedy-they could still be raking in the money without any membership fees, but they keep raising the fee and it's outrageous. I save money on medicine, tires, clothes, eyeglasses, electronics, wine, and buy salmon and simply cut it up and freeze it. It's best if you can pop in often b/c they get these great buys (seasonally), but they don't hang around long. Gas isn't cheaper for me-it's usually 2 cents less near my house, but that's in Tucson. There is virtually no help on the floor either-I asked a guy about if they still carried my favorite wine and he said he had no idea and I should go to the front of the store and ask so they can look it up! That would have taken about 15 minutes considering I was at the back of the store-who has time for that? Irritating.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: TucsonTeacher

                                                                                                                    2/3 of Costco's profits come from memberships. And they are very generous to their employees. If they were to cut membership fees then all prices would increase. It's a trade-off.

                                                                                                                    1. re: TucsonTeacher

                                                                                                                      I've been a member for 15 years and their memberships have gone up very little. Nothing in the 3 or so years I've been an executive member.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                        I think it was $40 for a single card when I first joined 9-10 years ago and it was another $15-20 to get a second card. Now it's a flat $50 for 2 cards. I don't think the price is at all unreasonable even as a single person, but I use some OTC allergy medication every day that by itself makes up the membership fee.

                                                                                                                    2. I recently found GelPro mats for the kitchen at my Costco. This style is $125 on the companies website - Costco price was $70! That is basically our membership fee right there.

                                                                                                                      I have wanted one of these for years but just couldn't bring myself to spend over $100 on it. For $70 I am thrilled - it makes cooking dinner so much easier on my body after being on my feet all day at work.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                        I just saw those mats the other day meatn3. I guess they really work then. Very tempting.

                                                                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                          Wow... I've wanted one too but didn't want to pay the big price.

                                                                                                                          Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                            so glad i just saw this! i've been procrastinating because i didn't want to spend so much, but THAT is a terrific price - i'll have to look for them when i go next week.

                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                              Where did you find them? I too have been wanting one, I am in MA.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jules127

                                                                                                                                My Costco is in NC. The mats were near the light bulbs and hardware items at my store, not with the kitchen stuff. They had one on the floor to try - which is how I spotted it. Otherwise I doubt I would have seen it.

                                                                                                                                This thing really has made a huge difference for me in the kitchen. Now that I have used it for a month I feel that it would have been worth the original price.

                                                                                                                          2. I never liked Sam's Club or Wal-Mart. I had a Sam's Club membership at least 10 years ago but never really used it because I just didn't like going in there! Costco opened here earlier this year and I went in to check it out first. They did allow that here--for you to check it out first before signing up. I liked what I saw--and because I'm a single person--no kids either, I felt that I could make the membership worth my while. My only disappointment is that they don't always have the brands that I buy. When they do it's great! But my biggest welcome suprised, and to me alone is worth the cost of the membership, is the car insurance!!! OMG--I saved SO much!! I I didn't even know about it when I first signed up-it was during a later trip that I picked up some of their brochures and called to get a quote. I was shocked! So think about that if nothing else and for those of you who already have a membership, check it out!! They also offer health insurance or some states--unfortunately, no in my state.

                                                                                                                            I will be renewing my membership!

                                                                                                                            1. Membership is refundable if you don't like it, you have nothing to lose.

                                                                                                                              1. About three years ago Costco opened a store about 30 minutes from my house. When the store first opened we drove up to check it out. After taking a casual stroll through the store, at first blush it didn't seem all that appealing to buy such large quantities for a household of two.

                                                                                                                                Then, about 3 months ago, after hearing co-workers rave about the prices we went back on a weeknight and spent more time going aisle by aisle and taking note of prices of things we regularly buy.

                                                                                                                                We were shocked at how much less expensive their everyday prices were and, that while the quantities were larger than we were used to, many products were packages of items bundled together. We joined that day with the standard membership and about a month later upgrade to the executive. Since early October we've spent over $2,500.

                                                                                                                                One thing I want to point out up front, is that Costco seems to be a "good" company. In general, the employees seem to enjoy being at work and are always cheerful. A little research shows they have a policy of promoting from within, and they pay their people a decent wage. I did a Google search, and found a NYT article from 2007 that said an average full-time Costco cashier with 4 years on the job was making around $40,000 annually with benefits. Compare this to the stories we've all heard on Walmart, and i"m happy to support a company that pays a living wage and doesn't rely on the state to provide healthcare to its employees.

                                                                                                                                Anyway, here are the few of my favorite regular items:

                                                                                                                                -1 lb organic salad mix - $3.99 (local grocery sells 8oz for $5.99)

                                                                                                                                -Milk - $2.15/gallon (no growth hormones, local store sells milk for about the same price, but since the label doesn't specify, I have to assume the cows were fed hormones)

                                                                                                                                -8 14.5z cars of organic diced tomatoes - $7.99 (same brand sells for about $1.50/can a the local grocery store)

                                                                                                                                -300 ct. generic allergy medicine - $12.99 (I was previously buying the target brand at 30 ct. for $4 - over a year this purchase alone save quite a bit of $$)

                                                                                                                                -35 bottles of water for $3.59 (and this is spring water, not just tap water like Dasini or Aquifina)

                                                                                                                                -3pk Digornio (sp?) frozen pizzas for $13

                                                                                                                                -3 - 1lb packages of organic ground beef - $12.99

                                                                                                                                -4lbs unsalted butter for about $6 or $7 - great deal with all the recent holiday baking

                                                                                                                                These are just the usual items. The bakery items are always delicious and everything we've tried with the Kirkland label has been wonderful. We also always fill up with gas when I'm there since its about 5-10 cents/gallon cheaper than everywhere else.

                                                                                                                                We also have found value in many of the nonfood items they carry. Without going into all the details, a recent "find" was a 18 piece set of glass food storage containers for $29.99. When I came home I found the same set on Amazon for $45.

                                                                                                                                Needless to say, we now buy everything we can at Costco and often check Costco before making a purchase.

                                                                                                                                I'm sure we could find better deals by spending an afternoon clipping coupons and driving from store to store to take advantage of the various weekly specials at the local grocery stores, and even the CVS's and Walgreens, but I'm but I'm happy knowing that we are getting a good price supporting a good company with minimal effort.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: seand516

                                                                                                                                  I think I bought those same glass food containers, do they have the plastic sealing tops?

                                                                                                                                  Also, every time I'm there I buy Pellegrino at about 99 cents per bottle. WAAAAAYY cheaper than anything around here. Even cheap on sale prices for bubbly water are about 1.20

                                                                                                                                2. Yum---I was at Costco today and they were sampling cheeses.

                                                                                                                                  The goat cheese with fig was divine. It was a hit even with those that didn't like goat cheese. The perfect mix of tartness with sweetness.

                                                                                                                                  1. There are only two of us in the house now, plus my stepdaughter when she is home from college, and we go to Costco about 2-3 times a month. Some of the items we regularly buy there...

                                                                                                                                    Clothes - usually name brand, good quality and good price
                                                                                                                                    Fruits and vegetables - higher quality than what is in out local supermarket and less expensive.
                                                                                                                                    Books - usually cookbooks for me, selection changes often and there is usually something local available (Alinea, Berghoff, Salpicon etc...). Prices are usually less than Amazon.
                                                                                                                                    Beer - Great prices and usually one or two selections from a local micro brewery.
                                                                                                                                    Diary - I've been getting in to ice cream making lately and Costco has organic cream plus half and half for much cheaper than our supermarket. Butter is good quality and cheap as well.
                                                                                                                                    Beef - Minimum is USDA choice, which is better than the select grade available at the supermarket, and often they have prime grade meats for a great price. $9.99 for USDA prime ribeyes anyone? Some subprimals (ribeye, tenderloin) are also available as well as rib roasts around the holidays.
                                                                                                                                    Nuts - Almonds, pecans and walnuts are really good quality and inexpensive compared to other sources.
                                                                                                                                    Spices - got a great deal on vanilla beans earlier in the year as well as Saigon cinnamon.
                                                                                                                                    Inkjet cartridges - In 3-packs, very good deal.
                                                                                                                                    Electronics - Found a blu-ray player with WiFi I had been looking at for $30 less than the cheapest I could find elsewhere.
                                                                                                                                    Candy - for halloween next weekend, very good price.
                                                                                                                                    Drinks - bottled water (I know, I'm evil) and soda cost much less than buying elsewhere.
                                                                                                                                    Vitamins - quantities are large, but price is less than half what I would pay at the drugstore.

                                                                                                                                    We don't buy much in the way of processed/prepared foods, but occasionally we'll see something that looks interesting and grab a box. We haven't been disappointed too often with our purchases.

                                                                                                                                    We have the Executive membership, the 2% rebate check more than pays for the cost of membership each year. Between that and the rebate check from the Costco American Express we get about $500-$600 in rebates per year, and you don't have to use those to buy products. They'll cash them for you.

                                                                                                                                    1. The fact that you can use costco.com needs to be mentioned as an important benefit that comes with a membership.
                                                                                                                                      On office supplies, the prices are very competitive and there is free shipping.
                                                                                                                                      All he familiar Kirkland health and beauty products ship for a reasonable charge.
                                                                                                                                      Large items like HDTVs generally have excellent prices, ship for free, have the extra year of warranty, and arrive in pristine condition. Read the reviews for customer experiences. You can return items at any Costco if there is a problem. The selection will vary a little from the store items.

                                                                                                                                      A superb value on special on the website right now:


                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: justicenow

                                                                                                                                        Or, if you have an extra million burning a hole in your pocket:


                                                                                                                                        1. re: justicenow

                                                                                                                                          Yes... Costco will keep you going from Cradle to Grave. Literally.


                                                                                                                                      2. We just downgraded ourselves (household of 2) from the $50 exec membership to the regular. We figured we don't plan any "big" purchases this year, so the extra 1% rebate wouldn't mean much, so expect that'll be a better buy this year.

                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                          Did you take gasoline into your formula? I always get enough back to offset the total membership fee.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                            Costco rebate is NOT on fuel; AmEx rebate is.

                                                                                                                                            The way to also get a rebate on fuel is to purchase a gift card and use it to pay for fuel.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                              I believe the whole point to the exec membership is to use the Costco AMEX card, that's what I base my formula on and it works every year.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                Probably. But you were commenting to Pine Time who downgraded from Executive to Regular membership.

                                                                                                                                                You can use the AmEx with either membership. You get back from AmEx for Costco fuel and non-Costco purchases.

                                                                                                                                                But you cannot get the *rebate from Executive membership* for Costco fuel purchases.

                                                                                                                                                {That said...to PineTime: I know when we first signed up for Executive, they told us if we did not get back at least what we paid for the Executive Membership, it would be refunded at the renewal time. Unsure if that is still the case, but I do know we have had more than one 'unexpected' situation come up(tires, mattress, creamation urn) and have always exceeded and received the Executive fee paid back, plus some every year}

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                  I agree 100%.
                                                                                                                                                  The Costco AMEX card offer is really an outstanding deal.
                                                                                                                                                  It makes the step up to executive Costco membership a no brainer.

                                                                                                                                                  That being said, I am noticing more restaurants and other outlets that refuse to accept AMEX because of the higher merchant fees.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                  I have the Costco Amex and I get 3% rebate on gasoline..

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                    We are talking ****Executive Membership rebate***. It is 2%. Max $500 per yer on products purchased at Costco.

                                                                                                                                                    Rebate is NOT calculated on purchases of cigarettes, fuel, cash cards, postage stamps, alcohol....read fine print, bottom of page 5. http://content.costco.com/Images/Cont...


                                                                                                                                                    You do not have to have a Costco AmEx to get the Executive Membership rebate.


                                                                                                                                                    You get the AmEx higher 3% rebate if you carry a balance. It is 1.5% if you pay your bill monthly.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                      Cathy, read the docs. it's 3% until you hit a threshold.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin


                                                                                                                                                        I think you are talking about the newer "True Earnings" card. Not what I have. I have the one attached to the link.

                                                                                                                                                        The whole response of this post was about Executive Membership and not the AmEx rebate.

                                                                                                                                            2. We are retired and love Costco. We buy all of our prescriptions there and if we have to wait we walk around and sample all the goodies they are demoing that day.

                                                                                                                                              They send you coupons every month and we buy supplies of toilet paper, dishwashing soap and detergent there.

                                                                                                                                              I always buy their fresh ground beef. It is packaged with about 12 round looking 1/2 pound portions. I bring them home and package each one in Press and seal and then into a zip lock bag. Perfect for two burgers or I can use two of them for cassaroles.

                                                                                                                                              I bought a Roomba last year only because I wanted to try it out and be able to take it back because I was not sure I would like it. I love it. I have taken a couple of things back..pretzels out of date and a Steam cleaner and no questions asked. They are very good to their members.

                                                                                                                                              We love Costco. We call it our exercise program in the cold Winter months when the snow flies.

                                                                                                                                              By the way we started buying the 100 membership. I take DIL and she does her shopping on my card. Doing that I only paid $24 for my membership this year. Yipee

                                                                                                                                              1. Costco membership is worthwhile if there's one close enough that you shop there regularly. If so, and if you also buy appliances, tires, etc from it, you may spend enough per year ... think it's $2,000 ... to justify an "executive membership," which costs about twice as much as a normal membership. Why would you do that? Well, because you can get into most Costcos an hour earlier if you're an exec member. But most of all, because every year they refund 2 percent of the money you spent in the last year (excluding booze and maybe some other purchases). For me, that refund was always enough to cover the next year's exec membership fee and to give me some money left over to spend there. The other thing about Costco is: You'll like it a lot more if you keep a freezer in your home. I would buy the big packages of meat, etc., and repackage them in smaller portions, then freeze them. It helps to maintain an inventory sheet for the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                                                  Just got my check, again it covered the cost of the membership with more to spare. Now I'm waiting for my Costco AMEX cash back check which is due in Feb. Between both, last year in addition to my membership, I was able to buy a new set of Michilen tires for my car.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: treb

                                                                                                                                                    Love those checks at the end of the year. For the two of us, we spend enough to pay for the executive membership and then enough left over for .....

                                                                                                                                                    There's never a question. That $100 Executive membership, if you want to look at it this way: it pays more percentage dividends than any investment I know of, or a least I have.

                                                                                                                                                    Good choice, Michelin! They are always $70 off - so does that mean that $70 off is a normal price :-)) No matter. Good tires. And you need good tires to get to Costco!

                                                                                                                                                2. Our local Costco is having a "free" weekend where anyone can come in and shop. St. Charles, Illinois. They did this around Christmas too.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Costco is worth it A because of the cupons b because of the meat and specialty cheeses and c the clothes you can not find anything cheaper than Costco for top quality clothes and I mean stuff here in Canada that on sale is 60 bucks at Costco its 20 or 25.00 pays for the membership easy

                                                                                                                                                    1. I've been a Costco member for over eight years and I doubt I will quit being one, however as many people have stated, Costco is all about knowing your prices.

                                                                                                                                                      There are so many things that are a great deal and other things that are just overpriced.

                                                                                                                                                      And until you price out the things you will buy on regular basis there is no way to know if the $55 membership fee is equal to the savings.

                                                                                                                                                      Here are some of the pros and cons I've written about getting a Costco Membership. http://www.kansascitymamas.com/costco...

                                                                                                                                                      1. After much debate over if I should join a discount warehouse and which one in the ATL area, Costco or Sams we decided on Sams. Costco is about twice as far and the gas in our trucks weighing in on us (discounted by .40 cents on the gallon at Sams with membership), the only difference in meat is Costco carries Prime while both carry CAB meat as well as choice. Both carry the cleaning supplies, tires, and kitty crap that is much cheaper than anywhere else if you shop your prices around. The AmEx deal at Costco and the rebate check in the mail was tempting but the drive was too far. It's all about the meat and the cleaning supplies for us as we're really trying to get into becoming better grill MASTERS. Hehe.

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the info, it was helpful.

                                                                                                                                                        1. CNBC reran their feature on Costco last night. Here's the link to their webpage:


                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                            I liked this on the page:
                                                                                                                                                            "Customers of warehouse stores may believe they’re paying for a chance to save money, but some experts think membership fees actually cause consumers to spend more."

                                                                                                                                                            Darn! I'd like to spend even more than I do if they'd give me even more choice. Right now, I'm doing BJ's, too, when I'm in that area. (and Wegman's when I'm in that area.)

                                                                                                                                                            Aww! such a shame that membership fees could casue consumers spend more BAWAWAAA!

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the link, ferret.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                              really, blame warehouse stores not impulse shoppers??? well that's what you get from cnbc...crap, I go with a list and execute.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, this is so typical of when any media outlet is trying to push a particular point of view without having any real facts to back it up. Note the use of the weaselly waffle words so they can't actually be accused of outright lying: "Customers of warehouse stores *may* *believe* they’re paying for a *chance* to save money, but *some* experts *think* membership fees actually cause consumers to spend more."

                                                                                                                                                                More than what? Any responsible financial guide would tell you that what matters are unit prices, and any comparison would show that warehouse unit prices are almost always lower than regular stores.

                                                                                                                                                                We, too, always shop from a list and never buy stuff we don't need or wouldn't be buying anyway, and nothing ever gets thrown away or wasted. We recently completed a small catering gig and the cost of goods was roughly half of what it would have been at conventional markets, and I've got the spreadsheets to prove it.

                                                                                                                                                                Are warehouse store prices always lower on every single item? Nope. Sometimes they are higher but the quality is better, and sometimes you can just do better elsewhere. But that's what being a smart shopper is all about.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                  Years ago now, a guy that worked at Costco (since deceased) said this to us, and we'll never forget it.

                                                                                                                                                                  When I said, "Oh, it's cheaper at ....." His quick answer was:

                                                                                                                                                                  "We don't compete with no sales."

                                                                                                                                                                  We still miss him being there, a nice guy!

                                                                                                                                                            2. I tried some of the Campari tomatoes from Costco based on one of these threads.
                                                                                                                                                              They are so good! They actually taste like tomatoes! It's been so long since I tasted what a tomato is supposed to taste like (used to have fresh tomatoes from the garden every day growing up) that I had forgotten. The regular tomatoes from the supermarkets look like tomatoes but the flavors are so muted. With the Costco Camparis you could tell they would be good just from a whiff of the aroma as they were being sliced.