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Costco membership worthwhile for 2 adults and 1 infant? (organic buyers)

We are a family of 3, consuming mostly organic veggies and seafood (wild if available) for diet. I heard that Costco is great for diapers but I can't seem to find Huggies Pure and Natural which is what my baby uses at a nearby Costco. My baby feeds on breast milk and home-made solid food soI don't need the formula or baby food there either. I am also aware that Costco offers a lot more organic choices nowadays, but I am just not sure if I can get my $50 back annually with our spending pattern.

I currently obtain my organic veggies, fruit and seafood primarily from local farmer's market and Trader Joe's with a few Whole Foods trips to top it off.

Any insight is welcome. Thanks.

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  1. If you can afford it, I'd advice getting the $100 membership if you decide to get a membership at all. You get a rebate back on every $ you spend and we've always managed to get at least $100 back in that rebate check.

    Okay, I don't know about disposable diapers, because we use cloth, but I know you can buy good quality cloth from their website and occasionally at the store. They carry organic milk, milk products, and eggs at excellent prices. Their regular milk is not organic, but is RGBH free and is much less than at the supermarket.

    I'd say a very large percentage of their packaged products are organic, and if your family is anything like mine (we get a CSA delivery box every week), we still need to get other fruits and veggies to round it out and I'm very happy with what we can get at Costco. I just wish they carried organic potatoes all the time.

    But for us really, the main cost savings at costco are from non-food items. Their toddler and little kids clothes are good quality, and far less expensive than retail. Your baby will probably very soon be on more solids, and the bulk size cheerios box has been a lifesaver for us.

    Costco also has great prices on baby wipes (random there, but thought I'd mention it).

    My suggestion would be to get a membership and try it out. If you don't like it, you can cancel your membership at any time for a full refund. We didn't think we'd spend nearly as much at Costco as we do, but honestly it has replaced most of our other shopping.

    (Oh, we are a two adult, two toddler household, if that helps)

    3 Replies
    1. re: tzurriz

      I'm a single person household and rarely buy food at Costco. I do, though, find membership worthwhile for other things: vitamins and OTC meds such as generic allergic stuff; contact lens solution; ummmm...girl products, gift certs for the nephews (iTunes, movie theaters), pet food/supplies. The prices on these items is so dramatically less than in other stores that a membership actually is cost-effective, even for a single person.

      1. re: Erika L

        I'm a single person, and I probably save $50 on Fage yogurt alone. But for the buying patterns you describe, I don't think it's worth it.

        1. re: Erika L

          Same here. I rarely buy food at Costco. Here is what I always buy there, though: bulk paper towels, toilet paper, kleenex, dishwashing detergent, organic sugar, contact lens solution, lotion. At other times, I've purchases Brita filters, vacuum cleaners, microfiber cloths, etc. Plus, I get my auto and home insurance through Costco (I know that the auto was a lot less than what we were paying before) and my tires. So, I feel the $100 is worth it w/o foodstuffs.

      2. Shopping for two adults and no infants, and eating primarily organic foods, I question the value of my membership. At this time it is used primarily for toilet paper and organic frozen fruits, the supply of which is somewhat erratic (fruit, not tp). For my purposes, Costco quantities are too great and quality is inferior to what I purchase through the farmers market or my local natural foods store. I prefer to pay more for higher quality and waste less -- possibly we break even, though I'm not sure. I would get a one day pass and evaluate the inventory with a critical eye. The few packaged foods we buy are seldom offered at Costco, as they buy with an eye for the desires of the masses.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maxie

          Costco does not offer a one day pass. If a person would like to look around to see what the store has and pricing, they're more than welcome to do so. However, if they'd like to make a purchase, they have to have a membership

          1. re: LuckyCharm

            so, get a membership and ask for your money back after one day if you don't like it?
            "one day pass" ;-)

            1. re: Chowrin

              Yep, you can. I had someone who wanted a refund 2 hours after getting their membership, and another who wanted a refund about 15 minutes later. (The first person was someone acting very entitled and didn't want to wait in nonexistant lines--they thought they were special enough to come up to the refund desk and want to check out there--PS, the registers up there are programed to not allow a purchase! The other just wanted it for gas, and refused to pay for gas with anything but cash, and didn't want to purchase a cash card. Oh well.)

              People confuse use with BJs and Sams that do offer the one day pass or 60 day trial.

        2. It might not be worth $50 bucks...but if you split the membership with someone else, it's $25 bucks and worth it for many other items. The membership can be split between people in different states...they don't care.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            Costco is cracking down on the "other state" issue. If you read the application for membership, the additional household card is for an adult over the age of 18 who resides in the same household as the primary cardholder.

            1. re: LuckyCharm

              My Costco card is international (primary membership is outside US) and I have had no problem using it in the US.

              1. re: ChowMulanno1

                I didn't say it wouldn't work. What I said was that they're looking for ID now for the free household card, and not issuing it to someone whose address doesn't match that of the account.

          2. IMO: No. Not even remotely. Unless you plan to buy lots of non-food items. Save yourself the hassle of shopping there (it's got to be worth at least $25/yr to never set foot in the place).

            Depends on where you shop ordinarily. If you shop at Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery or Berkeley Natural Foods (I think that's the right name, on Hopkins?), you'll find organic produce to be cheaper if you're willing to buy in huge quantities. But if you shop at Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market, not so much, and you have the luxury of buying what you need as picking it out individually. And, I'm less than convinced that the quality of Costco's organic produce is up to snuff compared to local suppliers.

            I joined a while back for a single purchase item. It was an extraordinarily good deal, so it was worth it to me. But I found I hated shopping there and when I did, I found little to buy. Sure I saved a bit on paper products and what not, but for me the ordeal of Costco was not worth the small change.

            Of course, you'll save a dime a gallon or so on gas if you're willing to wait in those interminable lines. Let's see, on a fill up you save the princely sum of a dollar or two. Go there once a week and you've come out ahead, I suppose.

            YMMV.

            -----
            Berkeley Bowl
            2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

            Rainbow Grocery
            1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            2 Replies
            1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

              Costco is more than just food and gas. For tire replacement alone you'll save the $50 you pay and then some (plus they rotate and fix flats/leaks for free).

              1. re: ferret

                I second the point about tires. The convenience of being able to have your tires rotated for free while you shop is great, as are the prices for initial tire purchases.

            2. If your budget allows for organic prices, a Costco membership is chump change. I get lots of organic items at Costco and have never been disappointed, veggies, honey, strawberry jam, flaxseed, veggies, eggs just to name a few and no place beats their prices. You'll hear a lot of noise about the lines, I try to avoid week-ends and have had little problems with lines for both food and gas. Lastly, if you don't like the place, within the year, you can get a full refund, no questions asked so the downside risk is zero.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cstr

                I totally agree and think it's well worth it. They're getting a lot more organic stuff. I have a two adult household and it absolutely saves me money, and I have access to a good coop and Trader Joe's. If you just bought organic olive oil, enviro-friendly laundry detergent, and organic sugar and quinoa, say, it'd pay for itself.

              2. It really depends. We are a pretty "green" couple of an 18 mo. old and they don't sell hardly any green products there, including wipes. We cloth diaper but use disposable wipes, but at least try to get green wipes but they don't sell them. The huge containers things come in are generally worthless for us. Pretzels go bad before we use them, so does cheese, so do lemons, and so many other things are full-fat or conventionally grown, we don't get a lot of use out of the membership. We buy local so much more often and smaller in size/scale than what they offer, you know? We don't use paper towels, we use cloth napkins, so no go there. The TP they sell is not from recycled paper. They don't sell our cat food. The meat, that everyone raves about, is all factory farmed and is not from what I consider safe sources so we don't buy it. About all we buy there are the mini packs of Sabra hummous which are great for lunches, big boxes of Zone bars and the occasional spiral ham for picnics. The pharmacy and eyeglass stores deliver excellent bang for the buck but you do not have to be a member to use them.

                We seem to buy just "enough" to get a small rebate every year but have often wandered around the store trying to find something to buy with it. We live in a very small apartment and don't have room for big patio furniture or a 40,000 cup crock pot or 500 bags of coffee, you know?

                2 Replies
                1. re: rockandroller1

                  Just like most places, they're not for everyone.

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    Hmm, they have a brand of recycled TP at my Costco (and paper towels for those that use them). I also like the Kirkland laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and dish soap (all supposedly "environmentally friendly" products). They have organic coffee beans in 2-3lb bags which isn't that large. I do buy Kirkland dry cat food as well, and they have grain-free dog food, too, which a friend of mine buys for her dogs. The ingredient lists on both are decent - probably not as good as something like Wellness, but a whole lot less expensive. We don't have kids yet, so I don't know about that stuff. I did just get a pair of Skecher Shapeups shoes for $50 though.

                  2. Thanks for all of you who have chimed in, really appreciated your input.

                    My other concern about Costco is, is their organic really organic? Organic as a label is different from organic in quality, for example, I will never buy Horizon "organic" milk since it is really borderline organic, and those who care about quality know that Horizon is just a glorified factory-farm brand that tweaks its operation to qualify for being organic, but the Horizon milk cows produce twice as much milk as average organic milk cows, so go figure. I somehow have the same concern with Costco organic, because any farm that serve Costco volume will have to sacrifice on quality, there is simply no way around it. I cannot expect to find Strauss quality for milk at Costco. Is it my prejudice against big retailers? What do you guys think?

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Riceball

                      As a member who uses Costco across the country, you'll find a lot of organic products in stock. The suppliers are regionally oriented, meaning that I can get organic flaxseed, corn, green beans, peas in So CA but not in BOS. Also, in BOS Costco has different suppiers for organic extra virgin olive oil etc., their suppliers vary from region to region. So your concern has validity, probably the same when you go into Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or even a farmers market, you have to be knowledgeable about what you're purchasing. Lastly, I'd suggest that you call Costco corporate headquarters and pose your question to them.

                      1. re: Riceball

                        We have the same concerns, plus we would prefer to buy from local sources whenever possible. I mean, we have local dairies here, which produce organic, hormone-free milk. As great a company as Costco is, I would much rather my $ go into the local community, plus I can go visit the farm (and have done so) and verify what they're doing.

                        Getting a giant sized bottle of phillip berio "olive" oil is just not a bargain to me, since most of that was found not to be pure OO anyway, right? we buy imported greek olive oil from a small greek grocery - the owner even made suggestions as to which brands were better to buy from based on where in Greece the oil was produced. Now that's good OO, and it tastes out of this world - makes the stuff in the grocery store seem like it has absolutely no taste at all.

                        We buy coffee from a local roaster. Again, supporting a local. This is why it's so hard for us to find things to buy there. We keep the membership, but honestly don't buy that much there. The few things they do have that we'd want, we don't have room to store in the huge quantities that they sell, and often go bad/stale before we can get to using them. I guess it really depends on your household and what your specific store offers. You should probably go shop in there a few times before you make your decision.

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          Shopping at your local Costco supports your community with sales tax revenue and employs your community with good paying jobs with benefits.

                          1. re: monku

                            And Costco pays better (with better benefits) than just about any local "mom-and-pop" tyype business.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Those local businesses in your area are probably Costco members too.

                              1. re: monku

                                I can't imagine a local business operating profitably, or efficiently, without being a Costco member.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Exactly.

                                  Costco Connection runs those local merchant stories that credit their success to Costco.
                                  It's amusing to hear people discount Costco. But, there is no retailer(local or big box) that goes to the lengths they do to save members money or guarantee your satisfaction.

                                  1. re: monku

                                    Hard to imagine what those businesses did before PriceClub/Costco.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      +1
                                      They sometimes fall short, but not often, and so much of what they offer is really, really good.
                                      you can also use their buying power for vacations is you so desire. I have no idea what it entails, but it is a service they offer. Also flooring, auto purchasing, all sorts of services.

                            2. re: rockandroller1

                              From a recent CBS Moneywatch, citing to the recent UC Davis report:

                              "Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil may be the best-kept secret in the store. At $9.99 for 1.5 liters, it is roughly half the cost of the well-known Bertolli brand, and yet, according to at least one independent study, it’s much better. In a recent comparison of 19 olive oils on the market, The Olive Center, a research group at the University of California-Davis, found that Kirkland Organic was one of only five in the study not mixed with cheaper refined olive oil that can spoil the taste. The other four at the top of the list were all high-end brands that cost as much as five times Costco’s. Make sure you buy the Costco version that’s labeled organic, though, as opposed to the one that’s simply called “extra virgin olive oil.” It’ll cost a little bit more, but it’s worth it."

                            3. re: Riceball

                              costco has decent milk. not the greatest, but the price point is good. and their quality on most things is excellent (try their green olives!)

                            4. Only you will know if the membership is "worth" it.

                              Why not try it and if you find that you are not shopping there enough, or it's inconvenient, or the selection is not to your liking, simply ask for a full refund. With Costco's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee Membership policy, you're fully protected.

                              http://www.costco.com/browse/products...

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                They can afford the 100% membership satisfaction guarantee....
                                In 2009 they collected $3.3 billion in membership fees.

                                1. re: monku

                                  Wow, guess plenty of folks &/or businesses thought it was worthwhile (I know our 2-adult, no children, 1 cat household does).

                                  1. re: monku

                                    No idea where you're getting that number; their annual report shows less than half that amount - which is the vast majority of their profits. Costco just about breaks even on their merchandise/service sales; the fees make up the bulk of their profits.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      My bad, I was looking at an analysis of the stock price and market value and they estimated it was worth 15% ($3.3 billion). They estimated the total market value at $21.9 billion.
                                      http://seekingalpha.com/article/20932...

                                      You are correct...2009 the membership revenue was $1.53 billion.
                                      http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External....

                                      1. re: monku

                                        You are correct...2009 the membership revenue was $1.53 billion.
                                        http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External....
                                        ____________________

                                        Still not chump change.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          That's one reason why they can offer lower prices. I still recover the membership cost, and then some, with the cash back membership and AMEX.

                                          1. re: cstr

                                            I don't believe the membership fees are what allows Costco to ffer lower prices (if that's even the case). It's really their business model (i.e., purchasing power, lowever overhead, etc.)

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              The membership fee has a lot to do with their bottom line.
                                              I forgot what percentage it represents of their profit, but it's a significant portion.

                                              1. re: monku

                                                For 2009 they collected $1.5 billion in fees and reported $1.086 billion in net income. Their gross margin on sales is 10%, which is to say they sell for 10% more than they buy, so after costs of doing business are deducted they run a loss on merchandise sales.

                                                  1. re: monku

                                                    I'm in no way knocking it. We've purchased a lot over the years (I've covered my membership in rebates for over a decade, buying furniture, tires and even a granite counter-top through Costco).

                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                      Never thought you were knocking it, just adding my 2 cents.
                                                      I'm so faithful to Costco no matter where I go on vacation a visit to the local Costco is on the itinerary...from Cabo to all the Costco's in Hawaii.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                It's all a part of the business model and that's why they can offer great prices and remain profitable. Membership fees are like maintenance contracts, great guaranteed cash generators that add to the base bottomline. I applaude how they operate offering better wages, health benefits, stock options etc to their employees. Can't knock success.

                                                1. re: cstr

                                                  No need to convince me. I'm a 20 year member and stockholder.

                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                    The genetically jealous types will always knock success!

                                    2. Full disclosure: I find having to PAY to shop in someone's stinkin' store more than a little obnoxious.

                                      I can only speak generically (Costco has a minimal presence in SE WI, with one store in the Madison area and another in Grafton, which is 20 mi north of Milwaukee), but my experience with Sam's Club was OK but could never justify the price of membership -- the savings was just not that great.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: MikeB3542

                                        There are $1.53 billion in memberships around the world and I'm sure the majority of those members can justify paying that annual fee.

                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                          Full disclosure: I find having to PAY to shop in someone's stinkin' store more than a little obnoxious.

                                          __________________________________________________

                                          At Costco, you pay a membership fee.

                                          At other stores, you pay via higher prices.

                                          Whether you pay directly (membership fee) or indirectly (higher prices), you pay.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            And depending on your shopping habits you can pay much, much more than $50 a year for shopping elsewhere.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              I save that much eating the $1.50 hot dog special instead of something else every year. And most Costco's you don't have to be a member to buy unless the food court is inside.

                                              1. re: monku

                                                You could never step inside a Costco and "make back" the membership fee (probably 2x over) just by buying a set of tires.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Exactly!!! It's just my husband & I, but we've been CostCo members since way back when it was called "Price Club" - think 1980's.

                                                  We get tires there (& excellent quality tires too!), as well as bulk paper towels, toilet paper, cat litter, fabulous Berio extra-virgin olive oil by the gallon, gallon jars of drool-worthy marinated artichoke hearts, lots of excellent frozen goods (pastas, snacks, shrimp), cheeses, wines, books, gifts, clothing, over-the-counter meds & vitamins. We also make it a point to get our Xmas wreaths there every year - absolutely fresh gorgeous large wreaths of fresh different mixed evergreens & pine cones for less than anyone else is selling their sad little small plain pine wreaths for.

                                                  And the quality of their house brand - Kirkland - is far far better than nationwide name brands. Toilet paper, paper towels, marinated artichoke hearts, pistachio nuts & other nut products - you name it - put other brands to shame. I absolutely hate it when for some reason I have to buy another brand locally because I've run out & can't make it to CostCo. Am always disappointed.

                                                  I've done the math & we EASILY make back our annual membership fee several times over during the year.

                                                  (Oh, & yeah - their pizza is good too! Both slices in-house, & take-home-&-bake.)

                                                  1. re: Breezychow

                                                    Must be something to that Kirkland toilet paper, it's their #1 selling item in the US.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I meant being a member to get inside to buy the $1.50 hot dog special if that's what you were talking about.

                                                    Thanks for reminding me(not a happy reminder) I need 2 sets of tires in the next two months...I'm waiting for the $70 off on a set of Michelins coupon.

                                                    1. re: monku

                                                      Actually the food court is on the exit side of the registers (along with the customer service/returns counter) so one can enter via the exit to just go buy the $1.50 hot dog special. The $1.50 ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and rolled in cracked almonds is really good too.

                                                      1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                        I'll be at your SF food court to check out the $1.49 Gelato when I'm there for Christmas.

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Costco.com also has amazing prices on very high quality saffron - I bought a 14 gram jar of 250+ color rated spanish saffron for $85. Between that and the tires, membership is a hell of a deal.

                                                      They seem to only have the smaller size jar in stock at the moment: 5 grams for $33. http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                  membership fee worth it for the amex alone.

                                                3. re: MikeB3542

                                                  had a horrid experience with sam's club. costco is where millionaires shop. big diff in quality.

                                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                                    I used to take that same attitude about these memberships stores, until I actually joined one. One or two people in a household may not be worthwhile, but once you have a child or two, I find it is.

                                                    My wife and I spend enough on diapers, baby wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, condiments, spices, claritin, bathroom and cleaning products to justify the $50 membership each year. Access to cheaper and better quality meat, seafood, (sometimes) produce, and liquor/wine/beer than our local grocery and package stores offer is just a bonus.

                                                    1. re: LStaff

                                                      If you used a lot more cloth products, you could save a lot of $ and wouldn't need that costco membership! We have a baby but we don't buy diapers, wipes, paper towels or napkins, we use cloth for all those things. It is a significant savings. Just something to think about. I do love Costco, and we have a membership, but wanted to mention that you might want to consider switching at least some of your lifestyle to reusable products as it can help stretch your dollars even further.

                                                  2. OK, a "membership fee" -- I'm with Groucho, I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that will accept people like me as a member. Besides, the amount of money people sock into any venture is not a sign of wisdom (see Enron, Lehman Brothers, Amway (ooh, let the flame war begin!) et al.) We could get into the whole "present value vs. future worth" thing, but that's a bit much for this forum.

                                                    My experience was, yes, you save money on a given purchase, but you end up with spending way more, since you buy a lot more. If you can manage bulk purchases ("but I saved the cost of the membership on the freezer chest"), it CAN work. Rotting veggies and freezer-burned meat is not a deal.

                                                    Tires? Meh, I can get a great deal at my local Farm and Fleet. BTW, I hope you aren't driving around on worn out tires waiting for some crappy coupon. The extra cost for buying regular priced tires is way less than your deductible if you get in a wreck!

                                                    Peace and love, y'all!

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: MikeB3542

                                                      Sounds like you haven't been in a Costco. Yes, they have some bulk items, but most of their items are not oversized. Instead of a huge tub of something they offer a multipack. It's definitely not for everyone. However, if you entertain a lot, which we do, especially at summer barbecues, you can make up the membership in one or two visits (cases of beer are easily $5-10 less, especially for premium beers that aren't usually sold in cases of 24). Liquor and wine offer similar savings.

                                                      We get it, it's not for you. But that doesn't necessarily make it bad.

                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                        No problem....I agree that it's not bad if you can manage it, and if you are really shopping and not just trying to buy enough to justify the savings. For me, I prefer to shop around locally and buy what I need. A good example of where buying bulk works is my son's scout troop -- with 70+ boys and 30+ adults at a week-long summer camp, the savings are huge.

                                                        And, yes, I haven't been in a Costco. The only one in the area is too far away to justify the drive (50+ miles round trip). Around here, Sam's is the only game in town.

                                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                                          Sam's has a membership fee.

                                                          We happen to have both Costco and Sam's out here and the Costco prices are better for the same items.

                                                          1. re: MikeB3542

                                                            I'm sure when and if a Costco opens close by you will become a member.
                                                            Almost all the families in a scout troop I know the size of your son's are members.

                                                            The number one excuse for not joining is the bulk size one, but there are far more items and services they offer you don't even know about that will save you money. The free
                                                            Costco American Express card with cash rebates is just one of many services.

                                                            1. re: monku

                                                              And when we were pricing out our granite countertops their local partner quoted a price $1,400 less than the next lowest bid. I left it in my wife's hands reserving my right to say "told you so" if the job ended up badly. The countertops came out beautifully and the vendor couldn't have been more professional.

                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                That savings alone would pay for 10+ years of Executive memberships.

                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                  Right a "local partner" and business you're supporting directly.

                                                              2. re: MikeB3542

                                                                people drive 80+ miles to go to my costco. from out of state, even.

                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                  At $4.00 a gallon for gas, that's a LOSER!

                                                                  Assuming you have a family sedan that gets you say 25 miles/gallon. Just the gas is going to run you $25. If you accept a 51 cent/mile rate (2011 IRS) that trip costs you over $80 once you factor in depreciation, insurance, maintenance etc. Plus that is 3-4 hours in the car that you could have spent do something, I don't know, FUN?

                                                                  Just because people do foolish things doesn't make less foolish.

                                                              3. re: ferret

                                                                ferret: "Sounds like you haven't been in a Costco. Yes, they have some bulk items, but most of their items are not oversized. Instead of a huge tub of something they offer a multipack."

                                                                Not tomatoes. I would find it much nicer to buy a case of 14 or 28 oz. cans of tomatoes instead of #10 cans.

                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                  I do recall buying multi-packs of tomatoes (certainly true for sauce and paste). The #10 cans are handy for some recipes and are priced about the same as 2 of the larger cans in the grocery stores.

                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                    I have a case of 14 oz organic diced tomatoes that I just got at Costco the other day. Around 60 cents/can.

                                                                2. re: MikeB3542

                                                                  Your response is typical of people that don't believe in a membership fee.
                                                                  There's no question anyone can make that up in a year in many ways.
                                                                  So then it turns out to be another shopping option where there's a good chance you'll save money and you don't have to buy bulk.
                                                                  Where else do you shop where the margins are as low as Costco?
                                                                  So you can keep the savings for yourself or give it to your retail merchants.

                                                                  As far as my tires I got about 4,000-5,000 miles of tread left, I can wait a couple months.

                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                    Plus, are we losing sight of the fact that the membership fee is only $50/year? Couldn't even buy a month's worth of Starbucks with that.

                                                                    Re: Tires.
                                                                    How do you know you've ogt 4000-5000 miles left of tread? Are you using the penny trick, or measuring millimeters of tread left before the wearbars start showing, or estimating based on manufacturer's claimed tread life? Wouldn't trust the last method unless I was outfitting a car for my sworn lifelong enemy.

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      My mechanic friend has a measuring gauge they use in the tire biz. Same one they use to tell you how much tread you have left when they pro-rate your tire for a new one.

                                                                  2. re: MikeB3542

                                                                    I thought the same way you did. In 1985, when it was Price Club and membership was $35. Then I did the math.

                                                                    Things don't rot or get freezer burned. We happen to eat daily.

                                                                    I buy what we want to eat, wear, read, use for cleaning, furnishing, repairing, maintaining and updating our home, feeding and taking care of our pets, gifting as general gifts and treats for us, family and friends.

                                                                    I price compare, note what is on sale elsewhere and do shop at local stores-for sale items only- as well as keep track of annual savings and when the cost of Membership has been recaptured. That point happens by May of every year, for the past eleven years, for us.

                                                                    [The regular price of tires still saves $30 on my car. $70 is even better.]

                                                                  3. this appears that it is one of those situations where it would be very easy to get a membership, try it out, and cancel (with a full refund) if it did not work.

                                                                    it seems to me that there is a lot of: "i don't want to support a chain business" on this thread (and on chowhound in general). in the cases of restaurants, i am part of this thinking - i will avoid going to a chain at almost any cost. but, for some reason, i believe that costco (and sam's club, btw) are well worth it.

                                                                    so: if it's a mental issue, let it go. if you are willing to be open-minded, give it a try!

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                      It's a no risk proposition from every aspect.
                                                                      You buy something and you don't like it you get a full refund.
                                                                      You use your annual membership 346 days(they are closed several holidays) and go in for a full refiund.
                                                                      They have everything to gain.

                                                                      Again, most people use the bulk buying as an excuse not to join and that's not what Costco is really about.

                                                                      1. re: monku

                                                                        True that.
                                                                        On the other hand, early on in the day of Price club, I went in for a bottle of wine and spent about $150, having also bought an electric pasta maker and a bunch of other stuff.
                                                                        You need to learn to pace yourself at Costco.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                          I always have a list and stick to it, no different than a regular super market where the consequences can be even worse if you don't stick to the sale items.

                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                            Back when they only took cash and checks...

                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                              i just figure $100/hour when i go to costco.

                                                                                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                                  That's probably a good estimate, although I can run up $200 in a half hour, but that's just from knowing what I need and knowing the layout of the place. Not looking for seasonal goods or seeing what's new. Then it gets a little spendy. :-)

                                                                          2. I'm organically oriented and buy at Costco. I like that they now carry Kosher items <I'm not Jewish> when I go there it's a done deal I purchase the Kosher chicken breasts. I also buy the wild caught salmon <frozen> it's expensive at about 30$ a bag but they don't always have it.

                                                                            I also like their Kirkland Organic first press Apple Juice and recently bought their organic 5 ancient grains cereal which I have yet to try.

                                                                            If you're strictly organic you might be dissapointed at the slim pickings, however, they have affordable good quality clothes, towels, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, eyeglasses, pharmacy, and if you request the diapers of your choice they'll most likely get it.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Quimbombo

                                                                              Yes, you can also ask. Each store only carries a subset of what it available, and the product mix varies slightly from store to store. Stores in (or near) more affluent areas will carry more gourmet and organic items. The Costco nearest my house doesn't carry some of the items that the one that's farther away but in an area I'm in for other reasons carries, so I mostly shop there. But the gas is usually slightly cheaper at the nearer one.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                The Costcos in SGV always seem to carry mooncakes (during the Autumn Festival, usu. around Sept/Oct on the Lunar Calendar).

                                                                            2. It also depends on how old your Costco is. My Costco's so old it's still located on Price Club Boulevard and you can see the old PC logo through the paint. The main reason my two-person household joined is because we have nine cats and have to buy bulk food and litter. But I got my first iPod there, we've bought tires, it's great on generic OTC meds and olive oil and a host of other things. We'll occasionally buy meat--mostly stuff like sausage and hot dogs but once in a while we'll get beef. Other than that we don't have the bells and whistles like other stores seem to have but apparently a new one is being built in my area. Woo hoo!

                                                                              1. I forgot a couple of organic products I tend to buy at Costco: flour and sugar. I just picked up 20 pounds of organic flour for $9.99 and 10 pounds of organic sugar (C&H brand) for $7.99. The flour is packaged in two ten-pound bags, so I usually split them with someone.

                                                                                1. I'm a single vegetarian girl and I'm sure I get my $50 back every year just on household items: toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and laundry detergent (most of which I buy once annually... or even less frequently!). I am still using the original pack of garbage bags my parents bought me when I moved to this city in September 2008! When my food stocks start running low I'll often head to Costco and try to get inspired by the produce- they usually have good prices on everything I need for ratatouille, for example, or if cauliflower is insanely cheap (say, a quarter of the price that I'd pay at Safeway!) I'll do a roasted cauliflower soup.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                    Would you share your cauliflower soup recipe?

                                                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                                                      Recipe? Huh?

                                                                                      I really don't have a recipe. I just cut the cauliflower into florets, toss with EVOO, roast and then decide what to do. The soup could be chunky with curry, or it could be creamy with cheese... there definitely isn't any recipe.

                                                                                  2. Thanks for all your replies. I have now reactivated Costco membership for two months, and I think I can make back my $50 membership fee easy. I'd like to share some experience with other organic buyers.

                                                                                    The stores that I am going to (Redwood City and Mountain View) have quite a few organic choices. For animal protein, we usually get organic steaks ($3-5 per lb cheaper than Whole Foods), wild fresh seasfood such as halibut, dover sole, cod which are selling at ~$3-4 per lb cheaper than farmer's market or Whole Foods), and organic chicken breast ($1 per lb cheaper than Trader Joe's).

                                                                                    Costco organic olive oil is a great deal, so is its organic pasta and organic flour. It carries organic blueberries and raspberries, at about $0.5 per lb cheaper than the cheapest stores I can find. However, we are also buying more Towsend frozen organic berry mix for making smoothies or pastries, sometimes if fruit is not in season, we buy frozen instead. Costco also carries Earthbound organic salad mix, baby spinach, celery and baby carrots and these are the four items we get regularly.

                                                                                    For milk, I am a bit disappointed that they don't carry Strauss (perhaps because of the bottle hassle) since they carry Strauss yogurt. We don't eat that many eggs so we buy from Farmer's Market, but the Costco organic eggs seem to be pretty big. We also buy Costco organic chicken stock which comes out to be $1 cheaper than Trader Joe's for every 6 packs.

                                                                                    Overall, we probably save about $6-10 per week by going to Costco, which comes out to about $40 savings, so I'd say organic buyers can definitely benefit from Costco membership.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Riceball

                                                                                      Yours has organic steaks? Are they grass fed? With beef, that matters much more to me.

                                                                                      Can you tell me the ranch/supplier name? My Costco has large bags of frozen organic veggies, not a lot of organic fresh except for a few Earthbound Farm items. I know they carry some organic milks, but they're very low fat so I don't buy them. They now have humane certified organic eggs. They also have Coleman organic whole chix along with packaged breast or thigh pieces.

                                                                                      But I really want a source for pastured beef there; is yours just organic or is it grass fed?

                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                        I remember it being organic pastured beef (not sure if says grass fed, will check next time and write down the brand, since we don't eat steak very often). The organic raspberries and blueberries are from Driscoll's.

                                                                                        There's also organic frozen yogurt by Alden's and organic ice cream bars by Julie's, both major brands at Whole Foods. Our Costco also carries many cheese products that Trader Joe's does, some of them organic. I have been so far very satisfied with my membership fee since it saves me lots of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's trips.

                                                                                      2. re: Riceball

                                                                                        Wow, you are very lucky to get all this organic stuff at your Costco. Strauss yogurt, never seen it in my area and the only organic beef is the ground beef.

                                                                                        1. re: Riceball

                                                                                          FYI, the cream-top organic milks at Bay Area Trader Joe's are Straus. They're in plastic rather than glass, but the plant numbers match up.

                                                                                        2. ours does not have great produce. the only produce i bought there last time was a bag of avocados, and they appear to be in season. oh, and a bag of their garlic will last a long time even in our house.
                                                                                          but the best thing to do is split the membership with your in-laws, we had no problem doing that (maybe bc same last name?)
                                                                                          check out their frozen mixed berries if you go.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: fara

                                                                                            My Costco blows away the local chain markets produce and fruit for both price and quality.