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Apr 28, 2012 04:30 PM

Costco alcohol -- maybe you don't have to be a member!

According to this story about Costco in the Huffington Post:

"In some states, due to the rules surrounding liquor licensing, you don't even have to be a member to buy wine or other alcoholic beverages at Costco. In California, where it's not required, you just need to go to the membership counter and ask for an "alcohol pass."

According to a recent list by The Consumerist, other states where a membership is not required for booze include Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Vermont."

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  1. I'm in Ohio. We don't have a Costco nearby, but I know that you do not have to be a member to purchase alcohol from Sam's Club.

    1. You do not have to be a member to purchase alcohol in New Jersey.. Some of the older stores are set up with the alcohol within the store, but the store closest to me, the liquor store has its own separate entrance. I cannot recall if the older stores have signs regarding liquor purchases, but the location closest to me clearly indicates it's open to the public.

      1. Ruth...

        it's not just alcohol. In Connecticut any state licensed department must be open to the general public. So you do not need a membership to use the Pharmacy, Optical or Hearing aid departments. The liqour 'store' must be separated from the rest of the Costco warehouse and have a separate entrance from the parking lot. Liqour must be paid for in the liqour 'store' and the purchase may not then be taken into the warehouse, you must go put it in your car and then you can enter and shop the main warehouse.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          The Enfield, CT Costco has a liquor store within the garage doors, but outside the actual Costco store. It's run by KH&H Liquors and has a pretty good choice of wines and very good prices. You just don't have the Kirkland wines that are found in the states like FL that allow the liquor to be sold by Costco itself. Off the cuff, I would say the liquor prices are 25 to 30% cheaper than an average liquor store.

          1. re: awm922

            The reason Enfield (the newest CT Costco) has a liqour store run by KH&H is that Connecticut law forbids ownership of more than 2 liqour stores by the same party (Disclosure, I am a CT Attorney).
            As to prices being 25-30% less than other liqour stores, that is misleading and you have not compared all the products sold there. CT has minimum pricing on Liqour. The Costco model is to mark up liqour by only 15%, but they have to follow CT law and cannot sell below state minimum. Any item that is popular (Smirnoff 1.75 liter for examaple) is likey to be sold at state minimum at Costco and most large volume liqour stores throughout the state.

            As to no Kirkland brand wine, in CT wines and liqour must be bought from a state licensed distributor and be available to all licensed package stores at the same cost. Costo cannot bring in its own product directly and would not want its Kirkland brand available at avery corner liqour store.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Interesting aside is that I am in a liquor control state [Iowa] and Costco wine/liquor is available.

        2. This is true. In Massachusetts at least, the alcohol is a store-within-the-store run by an outside company -- you don't need to be a Costco member to shop for alcohol there.

          1. This is fascinating -- so many different situations. In California, you don't need to be a member, but there's no separate entrance, separate operator, etc.

            I believe in California the Pharmacy is open to the public as well, although that would presumably be only for prescription drugs, not over-the-counter or supplements (I live on Kirkland brand ibuprofen and, this time of year, Kirkland generic Zyrtec).