Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chains >
May 18, 2012 06:19 AM

Why do you continue shopping at CostCo? I am underwhelmed. What do you appreciate about the warehouse store?


We've had a membership for years-dropped it a few times and picked up Sams but Sams does absolutely nothing for me so hubby goes to CostCo again for new membership.

Our DD adores CostCo.

What do you buy there? Why do I need to shop there and for what things? Is it the dairy the deli, the coffee or meats? Do you really save money going there?

It's like Grocery Outlet or Trader Joe's-some shop there and love it for particular things, while others don't even wonder in.

What's so great about shopping at CostCo besides bulk?

  1. For me, the savings on alcohol and wine alone is enough to justify the annual fee ...

    40 Replies
    1. re: hawkeyeui93

      Unfortunately, grocery stores aren't allowed to sell alcohol in PA, so that doesn't help me. I think Costco is best if you have a large family and big grocery bills.

      1. re: danbuter

        danbuter, I think I agree with you. I used to shop there when we first got one in our area and hubby bought a membership. he was excited for me/us to shop there and thought we'd save big time on grocery bills. BUT..... > I was the coupon queen at the time and save usually about 75% off of our supermarket bills. I never came close to any kind of saving at CostCo and he finally said after checking out how much I'd spent at a jaunt there, you save so much more using coupons. I bleated out no kidding, CostCo wasn't for me. Plus, loved the challenge of couponing just to see how much I'd end up paying for a $189 food bill.

        1. re: iL Divo

          That would be a fun cost comparison with like products or brand products to do, for anyone so inclined. Probably already has been done.

          Costco has quite a few coupons, but usually there is not much interest for me what they have to offer in the food department. I rarely use them.

          1. re: iL Divo

            did that myself.
            costco gives better quality, and less processed foods.
            no more pizza bites for me, even if they are free!

          2. re: danbuter

            I am a single mom of one 12 year old and I get a lot out of shopping at Costco. I have the executive membership ($110 this year) and receive just under $100 each year in my rebate check. I save between $0.07 and $0.15 a gallon on gas. Even if I never stepped foot inside the Costco I would more than pay for the membership in what I save on gas. I go into the store at least once a week. I buy everyday items like milk, bread, fruit, lettuce, fish. I save $1.50 per gallon of milk. That alone times 52 weeks is another $70+ in savings vs. the regular grocery store.

            I also buy lots of gifts there. They usually have some type of special flower like orchids or garden basket. It differs with the season. Bestselling books. I bought a pot set as a gift for my brother at Christmas. I did a ton of research before buying at Costco. I saved $50 and got two extra pans in the box.

            I saved $300 on tires. Now that's not every year but it is a huge savings. I searched the internet for tire prices and called 7 different area tire shops to get prices. The best part about buying tires at Costco is I can drop off my car before I shop and they rotate/balance (for free, of course) while I shop so I don't have to make a special trip to another tire place.

            They don't sell alcohol in Costco stores in MD so I don't benefit from that savings but when I travel to Virginia I do stop in a Costco there to stock up on wine. I guess I do benefit after all.

            Last year I bought a major brand (designer) of sunglasses. I only paid $52 for them. I did my research after I bought them and couldn't find them for less than $200 on the internet (even at discount shops).

            Last but not least - prescriptions! Do your research and you will find that Costco is the cheapest for prescriptions. I was paying $42 a month for a particular prescription (at Target). Target did a price check for me at $11 a month. I thought that was great. I decided to go directly to Costco to see their price. It turns out that $11 a month is for non-members. You do not have to be a member to get a prescription filled there, btw. My member price for that same item that was $42 a month at Target? Just $12...for a 3 month supply!! And it's not a generic drug. It is cheaper for me to pay outright for a drug at Costco than to go through my health insurance anywhere else.

            p.s. I am not a coupon shopper. That's too much of a hassle for me.

          3. re: hawkeyeui93

            For me, the savings on alcohol and wine alone is enough to justify the annual fee ...
            You don't have to have a membership to buy alcohol at Costco.

            1. re: TraderJoe

              I'm under the impression that that varies by state.

              1. re: CindyJ

                Liquor laws are Federal so no variation on Alcohol in the USA.

                1. re: TraderJoe

                  That's not the case, states set their own laws. My state doesn't allow Costco or supermarkets to sell alcohol other than beer and wine coolers. Only licensed liquor stores can.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Same holds true in TX. There's a liquor store attached to Costcos in TX that have a separate entrance and are managed separately. They're also open to the public. You can still buy beer and wine in the actual Costco store.

                    1. re: agoodbite

                      That wouldn't fly in NYS. Serious bizniz, getting a license to sell liquor.

                      1. re: mcf

                        This is true about NYS liquor licensing. But I shop at two Costco stores here in Queens and the one in Astoria has a a liquor store next door that almost looks like it is part of Costco, although thanks to our state law, it is not. However, the prices there are VERY good compared with most liquor stores in the area and I stop in every time I visit Costco...and it really just feels like part of shopping at Costco. I lived on LI many years ago and if I recall correctly, the Costco in Westbury has a similar set-up with a privately owned liquor store attached to the Costco warehouse/store.

                        1. re: Justpaula

                          Yes, the Costco in Westbury (where I usually shop) does have a "warehouse" liquor store next to Costco. Very good prices on hard liquors, some wines, etc. Their selection of wine is not always great and varies weekly, but they do have some standard items (Coppola Claret, Veuve Cliquot, etc.) that are always in stock and always WAY cheaper than any other store. I didn't realize the Astoria location had one too - good to know. Maybe I can convince my husband to go there, armed with this info - for some reason he hates the Astoria Costco!

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            I live in Woodside, and always used to shop at the Astoria one because it was the closest. I still do from time to time, it always easy to park there and for a Costco, relatively small and easy to to shop in. Plus, sometimes I start out with a walk along the waterfront. I am sure it is has one of the best views of all the Costcos in the country - :) . However since the one in Rego Park opened, I find myself in that one more frequently. It is definitely is larger (which *sometimes* makes it more challenging) with a greater selection. I don't keep kosher, but is has a very large offering for those that do. I also find the staff more helpful at that one. Because of it's relatively small size, I guess I can understand why your husband may not like Astoria. Have you tried Rego Park? No liquor store there, though, but there is an Aldi which I will also stop at when I am there.

                            From years ago, I remember the one on Westbury as always being a little too instense for me. Then, about a year and half ago, I was at the dentist right near it, on Stewart Ave. (my MIL is a hygienist - that;'s why I go so far for dental). I drove over and even in the middle of the day, the middle of the week, that parking lot was SO crazy that I hauled ass out of there and back to Queens!

                            1. re: Justpaula

                              LOL, the one in Westbury is ALWAYS a nightmare. We usually go out there when we also need to go to Walmart and/or the mall, but since the Rego Park location opened I've been going there more and more - we live in Sunnyside, so it's much closer than Westbury - but of course no Walmart and only the Queens center Mall, which SUCKS. Where is the Aldi?

                              You're right about the Astoria one being on the small side - and you're probably right about DH hating it because of that. I think the prices are a little higher than elsewhere, too.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                The Costco in Westbury is too crowded and the parking lot is awful. When we visited friends on LI we would go to the Farmingdale store. Much nicer than Westbury. Yes, a little further out, but we were going to Plainview anyway. And there is a TJ and Fairway in Plainview.

                                1. re: MisterBill2

                                  My usual Costco is Farmingdale, but I occasionally go to Westbury with MIL... it's definitely much more crowded, but not nearly the horror show that my single trip to a Brooklyn one was. Manageable, but not as pleasant as those farther east. Plainview Fairway is worse on weekends or week days until about 4 pm or so.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Maybe the Westbury Fairway will take some load off the Plainview store. I'm sure the parking will be better in Westbury and it will be one of the new format stores, like Stamford, Paramus and Pelham, which are better with crowds.

                                    1. re: MisterBill2

                                      Things could be worse. All your parking, along with all the best items in the store, could be overrun and bought up by them durn foreigners from the frozen North: ;-D>

                              2. re: Justpaula

                                Hah hah! That parking lot is not for the weak of heart. Getting there 5 minutes before opening is the only way to go. And just imagine what that whole Old Country Road/ Meadowbrook Parkway area will be like once the new Fairway and TJ's open - ugh!

                                1. re: EM23

                                  I didn't know a TJs and Fairway were opening - are they going in that new shopping complex just west of Walmart/Costco???? If so, I'm going to be a happy girl (except for the traffic, yikes!).

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    Be happy! TJ's is going in to the new complex you referred to and Fairway will open (reportedly in August) in the old Expo site on Corporate Drive.

                              3. re: biondanonima

                                Thanks for the info about wines... should have read further!

                                1. re: mcf

                                  LOL, I should have too - I just typed a more detailed answer to your question, having not seen this post!

                              4. re: Justpaula

                                Thanks, Paula, I've been to the Westbury store, have never noticed the liquor store. Good wine selection? I am in the area every Thurs.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  There is a Stew Leonard's liquor store over on Glen Cove Road with a much larger, and competitively priced, selection of wines. It is less than 5 minutes from Costco. The liquor store at Costco has good prices, but a much smaller selection.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    The liquor store (called Westbury Liquors) is right next to the Costco, to the right of the tire center if you're facing the building. The wine selection isn't terrible - they regularly carry several large national brands (Barefoot, Yellowtail, Bogle, etc.), plus a smaller selection of nicer wines in the $15-25 (which changes a bit, but there are certain things they always have, like the Coppola Claret, Veuve, etc.) and a small selection of expensive wines (like in the $60-100 range). They also have an everchanging selection of what I assume are overstocks from other stores, which are generally cheap but not always good. I have found some winners, but I've definitely bought some losers as well.

                                    The liquor selection is pretty standard and they only carry large-ish bottles, but the prices are excellent in comparison with my local liquor stores.

                          2. re: TraderJoe

                            This article shows the states where you can ask for an "Alcohol Pass" to go into the store.
                            (AZ, CA, CT, DE, HI, IN, MA, MI, MN, NY, TX, VT


                            Liquor laws are NOT Federal.

                            1. re: Cathy

                              "Liquor laws are NOT Federal"

                              I stand corrected. I always thought only beer and wine varied by state in the sense that Costco could force you to buy a membership to purchase.

                              1. re: Cathy

                                The article is wrong in that in NY, alcohol (other than beer) cannot be sold in a store selling other things. No supermarket sales, no 7/11 sales, etc... - only liquor or wine stores. The only way around this is for the store to have a separate building/entrance and separate ownership.

                              2. re: TraderJoe

                                It is absolutely done by state. Massachusetts sets a limit on the number of grocery stores in a chain that can sell alcohol in the state. (I think it's currently 3 stores in a chain). This means that some Costco stores can sell it; others can't.

                                1. re: Isolda

                                  I agree ... In Iowa, the alcohol and wine are sold by Costco inside the store [and nestled between the bakery and meat counter] ...

                              3. re: CindyJ

                                Cindy, I think you're right. I must admit to buying Dom Perignon there a few times as gifts because it was a bit less per bottle.

                                But, another thing that gripes me no end is having to use a debit card or AE for either gas or the main store if I don't have enough cash. I don't know why that's their policy, oh well. And I can't use cash for gas. Very dumb.

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  It used to be cash or checks only inside the store, so they finally added the AMEX Credit Card and more recently, debit cards.

                                  I think it is *very* smart to not deal in cash at the gas station- no double checking membership, no employee dealing with needing to get/handle change for 32 vehicles constantly (vehicles leave as soon as pumping fuel is done) and (most of all) no cash to be stolen by a gun wielding thug.

                                  1. re: Cathy

                                    Cathy, before they exclusively took AMEX they exclusively took Discover. I got a Discover card years ago for that very reason.

                                    1. re: Arthur

                                      True. I forgot about Discover.

                                    2. re: Cathy

                                      gas stations have slots where you put the bills in. with CostCo they could have you put your card in (that way it's verified) then stick your cash in ($10's or a $20) or these days the monetary bill is a 'C' note :( even at CostCo.

                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                        I live 2 miles from "my" Costco. It is in an area of the country which has earthquakes, and also, a County which lost all electric power for more than 12 hours last summer.

                                        I fill my fuel tank before it is half empty, religiously. That means less than $20. I would want to fill my tank AND get change each time I fill up.

                                        Costco would have to employ four people instead of the two now working- one to give change, one to walk and check pumps and help with cards not working (as they do now), someone to give change-and get more change if necessary(the person who could get robbed) and someone to relieve each worker, the one relieving the one handling cash would have to cash in and cash out to balance and show no pilfering. The system, the way it is, works.

                                        You could purchase a Costco Cash card or several and use those at the gas station.

                                        1. re: Cathy

                                          Carhy I live on a fault line myself. $20 gets me about 4 gallons of gas which isn't close to half a tank.
                                          I don't understand what your post is about and don't need another card to carry around. all my point is I'd like to occasionally buy gas with cash.

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            My point is that cash businesses are victims of crime and Costco gas stations- outdoors away from the main building-would be targets for theft. The company is avoiding that possibility by not dealing with cash.

                                            My other point was that I don't just put in $10 or $20, I fill the tank.

                            2. The original comment has been removed
                              1. The original comment has been removed
                                1. A few of the things I can rely on being available at a fair market price with a minimum of driving around town:

                                  OJ not from concentrate (in1/2 gal. containers that my 92-year-old mom can lift)
                                  paper products
                                  RX & food supplements
                                  See's candy gift certificates (good for a pound, not a dollar amount) that I can treat as chocolate futures
                                  dental insurance for a family member

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                    "not from concentrate"... you think they squeeze it all the year long? I buy the frozen stuff, which at least never tastes like tic-tacs.

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      No,silly, I don 't think they squeeze year-round, but that's a different discussion.

                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                        "I buy the frozen stuff, which at least never tastes like tic-tacs"ahhahahahhaahh :)

                                      2. re: Stephanie Wong

                                        +1, to the max. Their meat and seafood are top of the line for this part of the world. Their vitamins and supplements are very good and well priced. They have seasonal stuff is sometimes fascinating.
                                        When possible I get my gas there. It's almost on the way home and the prices are among the lowest and the quality is good

                                        1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                          See's certificate...never seen it there or online?

                                          1. re: randyjl

                                            In the warehouse. Ask for them as what is displayed is letter-sized cardboard with a barcode, which is exchanged at the checkout for the actual See's gift certificates.

                                            1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                              They have them regularly at the stores in Western Washington - saw them today in Woodinville.

                                              1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                Can you use them online or just in See's stores? LOVE See's!!

                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                    From the FAQ section of

                                                    "Can I redeem See's paper Gift Certificates on

                                                    Unfortunately we are not able to redeem Gift Certificates via our web site. Gift Certificates can be redeemed through our Mail Order Department by calling 1-800-347-7337. Please advise the Customer Service Representative that you have a Gift Certificate. The Gift Certificate and a check for postage and handling can be mailed to:
                                                    See's Candies, Attn: Cecile Young,
                                                    P. O. Box 93025,
                                                    Long Beach, CA, 90809-3025
                                                    Once the gift certificate is received we will ship the candy."

                                                    jbsiegel, are you located in a store-free area?

                                                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                      Unfortunately, yes...See's store-free!

                                                      1. re: jbsiegel

                                                        Check your local shopping mall. We're also See's-free, but a mall near us has a limited selection in a kiosk where I can go for a nuts and chews fix.

                                                1. re: randyjl

                                                  I've never knows See's candy certs are there either.

                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                    With all the giftcards. I see the See's cards around Christmas, not all year.

                                                  2. re: randyjl

                                                    I'm guessing the See's certs are regional. We have certs in Minnesota that are for local restaurants.

                                                    1. re: randyjl

                                                      I'm in California & have purchased them in Northern & Central California warehouses.

                                                  3. Their meats are of higher quality than what I can get in my neighborhood, at about half the price. Cheeses, nuts, milk and eggs as well. They have very good prices on household products (I buy paper towels, TP, tampons, razor blades, OTC medications, vitamins, laundry and cleaning supplies there), especially with coupons.

                                                    There are also a few things I can only find at Costco - Nina brand San Marzano tomatoes, for instance (at an incredibly low price, too). Two pounds of Brussels sprouts for $4. Amylu brand chicken sausages. Flap meat. The list goes on.

                                                    Add in the fact that the Costco Amex (available only to Executive members) is the best rewards credit card I have, and I am a major fan of Costco.