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Finally! Good, inexpensive food comes to the Upper (Upper) East Side

After many years living in Carnegie Hill, and lugging groceries from the Upper West Side and Union Square, we finally have a source for good, reasonably priced food (and many other things). Never shopped at Costco before and thought I'd have to buy a side of beef, at a minimum, or other things in bulk. Not true! Large quantities are available, but so are smaller ones more suited to Manhattanites, still extremely reasonable. Great rotisserie chickens, meats, seafood, and on and on...friendly service. Definitely worth the trip, even without a car, as there is a car service stationed right outside the exit and only cost $10, in my case, door to door.

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  1. Just took a trip up there on Sunday - got some dried fruit, brownie mix, chewing gum, a rotisserie chicken, fresh produce, and some other items. Between my mom and me, we each carried a cloth shopping bag, walked over to the M15 on Second Ave (after getting a slice at Patsy's, of course) and made it home just fine. It was quite the fun adventure!

    1. And how much is the membership fee there? Do you know if they offer 1-day trials or anything similar? Thanks.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LNG212

        There is a $50 regular membership, for which you get no rebate, and a $100 membership, for which you get an annual rebate of 2% of qualified purchases. We got a 1-day trial through a mailing from American Express. The savings are huge, and membership costs can easily be recouped the first visit!

        1. re: City Kid

          We've been going for years - in DC, and now in various Costcos in the area. It's definitely worth the money, and we are a two person household. There are a lot of good threads on the Chains board about products people like at Costco, for those of you who may not have shopped there before. I think to talk about Cosco generally further, though, we should probably head over to the Chains board.
          I've not yet been to the Harlem location, but my husband went right after they opened. There is a $5 parking fee, FWIW.

          1. re: MMRuth

            It's probably the only Costco with a high-rise parking garage. I've had a wonderful time up there. Gotten a few things that come in larger quantities, divided it into individual portions and popped it into the freezer. One friend told me that you can cut up the rotisserie chickens (which are very good and very cheap) into portions and freeze them too. She says they thaw, heat and crisp up really well.

            1. re: Jane A.

              I guess they have tailored things a bit to succeed in Manhattan -- high-rise parking and it looks like a specific car service they must have an arrangement with that continually has cars coming and going from the garage entrance. And also perhaps carrying smaller quantities for those without suburban storage space. But I still laugh every time I look at the 64 ounce jar of artichoke hearts I bought there!

      2. The cabs-mostly gypsy cabs line up so you can conveniently lug all your stuff home by car and the charge is very reasonable-ie cost me $8 to go from 117st to 87th and 2nd which i didnt mind paying since i saved so much on items purchased.

        8 Replies
        1. re: UES Mayor

          From what I could see they are not "gypsy cabs". They are licensed limos from a "black car" service that has a deal with whoever operates the garage. There is a dispatcher who flags the next car in line to pull up right where your cart is. What's better than that?

          1. re: Brian W

            What's better than that? I pay at checkout and go home and my stuff magically appears at my apartment later. I belive it's called deliver service. :-)

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              I'm willing to put in a little effort for the great savings, which seem somewhat magical to me. And not much effort if I also get a ride home.

              1. re: City Kid

                I'm willing too sometimes, but it's still shortsighted of them not to have set this up. I means I can't run errands on the way home, can't walk home, etc. Just like with their marketing plan, this is another thing they didn't think through very well. Every grocery store in my neighborhood delivers. It's normal for Manhattan and people want it and expect it.

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  I'm sure they'll figure it out since all the other big box stores have - Bed, Bath & Beyond & Home Depot have delivery service in Manhattan, though you do have to pay.

                  1. re: Jane A.

                    I don't mind paying for the service.

              2. re: gutsofsteel

                Fine, if you don't mind living on D'Agostino's schedule. We've done that and gave up years ago. It's better to go all the way crosstown to Fairway and lug it home on the M79 than to wait for overpriced and half melted groceries from just up the block. Also, Costco has items just not available anywhere else. I wouldn't consider Costco suitable for everyday grocery shopping but a once-in-a-while trip can be fun.

                1. re: Brian W

                  Fairway delivers. And the D'Agostino's and C-Town near me are both open pretty late. (By the way the C-Town on 1st near 89th is surprisingly okay). And I have a doorman so the stuff can come when it comes. I want convenience, plain and simple. I'm happy to pay for it, but they should have it available. If not, they are losing some customers, which is of course their choice, but in my view an unfortunate one.

          2. anyone know how much parking is here?
            I usually go to the LIC one, but would make the trip if its worth it.

            1 Reply
            1. Initially I was hesitant to join, not certain where I would put industrial sized goods in an NYC apartment, but the quality has wooed me and I am repurposing the empty jars/cans (more appropriately vats) in and around my apartment. The beef is far better than what I can get at a similar price point at the local grocer and their seafood is far better and more varied. And given my household of 3, 6-lb. packages of beef and 3 lbs. of salmon are easily managed, especially when butchered at home and frozen in individual meal bags.

              1. I sincerely hope they will be successful in East Harlem. This news from a GrubStreet link yesterday:


                14 Replies
                1. re: City Kid

                  They've had way more people than they've needed so far. In truth, I don't think Costco has done a particularly good job of advertising their existence and how easy it is to get there and home on public transportation and that there are usually gypsy cabs available outside. Frankly, I would rather have a yellow cab (insurance issues), but that's me.

                  I'm in east midtown (20 minutes on the M15 limited) and got only one mailing long before they opened. I had to self-motivate to get up there and get a membership card and so on. Maybe anywhere else in the country all you have to do is open and the people will come. Here you need to work a little harder.

                  That said, I'm very happy with the shopping and my freezer if full of lovely Costco buys.

                  1. re: Jane A.

                    I wish they had delivery service, even if it would be for a fee.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      I too am on the M15 line and got there within 10 minutes from East 68th. As for the delivery service, I think most of the fun is going there, pushing your cart down the wide aisles, and tasting all the samples!

                      1. re: RussianGirl

                        I meant a delivery service like many of the supermarkets have - you do your shopping there, but then they deliver everything. I don't want to buy lots of stuff and then have to shlep it myself, taxi or no taxi. Judging from the number of deliveries from supermarkets that I see every day, a lot of people feel the same.

                    2. re: Jane A.

                      I totally agree that they should have more marketing support for the Manhattan store, tailored to city dwellers and exploding the myths that might keep them away, e.g., you don't need a car, you don't have to buy quantities to feed 50 people etc. They should better understand this market and make necessary adjustments. I just love the place, which we now call "the club," and hope they get the businees needed to sustain them there.

                      1. re: City Kid

                        I agree with both City Kid and gutsofsteel. The marketing should have been better. Was there even any at all? I never saw anything except articles I read in various papers.

                        In addition, it would have been great if they did a "come try us for a day without a membership" kind of thing, especially if they are having to "convince" people that it's worthwhile to join and shop there (this could have covered the myths about transportation, quantity packaging, and the like).

                        In addition, it's rather strange to have a grocery store in Manhattan that doesn't deliver. Seriously? Every other grocery I've shopped at has delivery (for varying fees). And that too could have gone a long way in encouraging people from all over Manhattan (outside the immediate E. Harlem and UES neighborhoods) to try them out.

                        Without a membership-free trial day and without delivery, I am probably quite unlikely to ever give them a shot. Too bad.

                        1. re: LNG212

                          I also found the lack of delivery daunting but the car service guy puts the bags in the trunk -- and I have help at the other end -- so I don't even have to lift anything. Now I prefer it to delivery that comes goodness-knows-when, with my stuff melting, and the transportation cost is more than made up for by savings on purchases and lack of delivery fee/tip.

                          1. re: City Kid

                            If that works for you, that's terrific. As for me, I live in a 4th floor walk-up. If I'm going to buy a large amount of stuff (which would be what justifies the costco fee plus the taxi), then I want someone to carry it up the stairs for me. :)

                            Actually, without a free day-trial, there's really not much incentive for UWS people (like me) to even venture over there and try it out.

                            1. re: City Kid

                              I just don't want to do it - lug my bags outside, get in the car service, negotiate the price with a gypsy cab driver, etc etc. I want to pay at the checkout and then leave and get my stuff delivered. This is Manhattan baby!

                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                I should have specified: no lugging outside, from shopping cart to trunk with the help of the driver, and set prices for the one designated car service, from a list, depending on distance. But I understand LNG212's concerns above with a 4th floor walk up -- less practical, but at least you have other food options on the UWS, unlike us UES folks!

                            2. re: LNG212

                              They actually did do a "Come Try Us For A Day" event, which is how I ended up visiting and becoming a member. Unfortunately it was only open to American Express customers in the area. Initially I bristled (I am not an Amex member, however my roommate is), but I think they have an arrangement such that Amex is the only credit card they will accept.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                Really? I have an Amex card and never heard about it. I wonder if they did it only to certain zip codes or something? Then again, maybe I just missed the boat on that one. Oh well. I would have liked to see it just to see if I wanted to join or if it would be worthwhile for an old UWS household of 2 to actually use! :)

                                1. re: LNG212

                                  I did get the mailing from Amex and that is how I tried it. I doubt that it was retricted by Manhattan zip code if they are trying to attract people from beyond the neighborhood.

                                2. re: JungMann

                                  Yes, they definitely should have done more promotion and marketing. Btw, I used my Mastercard there.

                        2. We (2 of us) live on Roosevelt Island and have been shopping at the lIC Costco for many years (we have a car.)

                          It isn't just the food that is a buy, it's the staples as well. (OK so my wife can't lift the 50 pound jug of Tide-), but the 55 gallon drum of Lysol sure looks great in our living room as a plant holder. On top of that the 600 bottle multi-vitamins will last us when we're in the nursing home saving us money on our monthly bill. Of course we're just half finished with our 15 pounds of Italian sausage and it's begining to affect my wife. I caught her doing the tarentella this morning and singing O sole Mio. However, the best thing is the amount of toilet paper you get; man! if we get hit with the runs, are we ever prepared!

                          Go Costco!