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Costcos in the Bay Area - What Differences Have You Found?

I usually go to the Redwood City Costco, but yesterday, found myself at the Foster City Costco. The store seems smaller than RWC, and correspondingly, there seemed to be less variety of food products. For example, RWC has organic eggs in both the 18 and 24-egg cartons, where FC had only the 24. At FC, the prosciutto was Citterio (a brand I see in many stores and apparently American-made), in a single package, and the salami selection was limited. At RWC, they have Salumeria Rosi, an Italian import, which tastes very much like Prosciutto di Parma and comes in a 3-pack. At RWC, there are often a lot of Mexican products (tamales, masa, etc.), depending on the time of year, and I didn't notice many at FC.

I would love to hear what others have discovered in terms of the differences in food products (and wine) carried by the various Costcos throughout the Bay Area. For instance, do some Costcos carry a larger selection of wine, or Asian products, or cheeses, or.....???

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  1. The Costcos that are generally on my routes are Richmond, San Leandro, Mountain View and Foster City. Of those, Richmond and Mountain View tend to have a more upscale selection, at least when it comes to food.

    1. I've shopped at most of the area Costcos and try to go mostly to the Danville store. They seem to have the best variety, especially of the high end stuff. I also like the Hayward business Costco. They have quite a few things not available in the other stores.

      1. I've heard that some Costcos have different food court offerings. SF has gelato I believe. Richmond where I usually shop does not have gelato ..... does have a berry freeze and a few flavors of frozen yoghurt IIRC.

        1. Novato seems to have the largest wine selection compared to other Bay Area Costcos.

          1. I've seen expensive wines and some other items at Redwood City that I haven't seen anywhere else, probably due to the larger number of very rich customers.

            I went to the Hayward Business Center Costco the other day and they didn't have a number of things I buy regularly at the Richmond and SF branches, including imported prosciutto and vitamins. Clearly they're more focused on serving restaurants, convenience stores, and the like.

            So I stopped by the San Leandro store and got the rest of my list, including real imported Prosciutto di Parma, also Citterio brand.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              If you're looking for high end wine,
              Danville routinely has Chateau Y'Quem, Screaming Eagle, Chateau LaTour, etc....
              As well as many $300 plus scotches and brandies.

              1. re: kungful

                I bought the Heartland brand aged bourbon once. Took one small sip and poured the rest down the drain. Nasty metallic taste.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I'm pretty sure alcohol is excluded from the return policy in Ca, even unopened b/c of a state law. If it's really bad, though, I wouldn't be surprised if they made an exception

                    1. re: estnet

                      I returned an unopened case of beer once (bought too much for my event).

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      It was so awful that I never wanted to think of it again. I poured the bottle into the sink straight away.

                    3. re: bbulkow

                      Costco accepts all returns with the exception of cigarettes.

                      1. re: macadam

                        Costco does not accept alcohol returns. Learned the hard way!

                1. I know that the Novato and Rohnert Park stores don't carry many asian food items.

                  1. Store-roasted coffee only at some locations.
                    Store-roasted chickens only at some locations.

                    Differences in high-end cheeses stocked.
                    Differences in fish.
                    Differences in how much prime meat is stocked.
                    Differences in sizes of organic egg cartons.
                    Differences in wines.

                    Love the place, though -- both the prices and employee treatment.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Do you know which locations have store-roasted coffee?

                      Redwood City has the roast chickens. I've also seen super high-end wines there - very expensive champagnes and burgundies, in the hundreds of dollars range.

                      I agree with Maria that I love Costco - for the prices, the "hunt" because you never know what you'll find there, and yes, I've heard they consistently rank as one of the top employers for treating employees well.

                      1. re: goodeatsgal

                        I only know some stores roast coffee and chickens, and some don't. I don't have the lowdown on all the stores in the Bay Area.

                        I have to admit that I generally buy the same things on every visit, so my visits are a surgical strike. I change up what fruits and vegetables I buy, depending on the season and ripeness and whether or not I've hit the farm stands. I don't buy wine there.

                    2. Costco Danville on Friday Saturday has fresh Spicy Poke Ahi salad for$15.99 / lbs, very good. They have also shrimp salad.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Mul

                        which dept?? have never seen anything like this in the fresh fish dept.

                        1. re: Sarah

                          Today they're nearby the produce and dairy freezer location, its like how they sell the crab, someone is manning tne stand.
                          They had cilantro shrimp salad, garlic shrimp salad, fresh spicy poke ahi and poke ahi salad.

                          1. re: Mul

                            Item # for spicy ahi poke is # 39876

                        2. re: Mul

                          I'm enjoying that right now! The Asian sauce is salty, not to mention add to the $15.99/lb. price, and so be sure to ask them to drain as much sauce as they can before weighing the poke; I did.

                        3. Costco has a design standard of 110,000 sf with some exceptions (like Richmond) where they have to fit into a non-standard parcel. Therefore I'd assume variations among stores are based on market analysis.

                          I only get to the SF Costco so can't cite any comparative info from my own experience, but I'd guess not all Bay Area Costcos have the beer "island" featuring craft and Belgian beers in larger bottles, or the cookbook island of the latest books from high-end chefs and restaurants. The book selection at the San Francisco store also features books for SF history buffs (like the Richard Dillon books) and is most likely "tweaked."

                          I'm guessing too that there is a variation in the "artisanal" and organic offerings among stores throughout the bay area.

                          Here's a benchmark which should be easy to spot: How many Costcos offer $250 9-liter bottles of Belgian Abbey ale?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: soupçon

                            While I generally consider the San Leandro Costco to be more "downmarket" I did see an end display with an impressive collection of cookbooks from local chefs (Tartine, Alice Waters, Bouchon, off the top of my head).

                            1. re: soupçon

                              I'm a huge fan of the beer display that showed up this summer! I've noticed SF, Daly City and South SF Costcos seem to have mostly the same beers on sale, but Soupçon is right - SF has a few more options (didn't see the Belgian Abbey in the other Costcos).

                              I've also been to the San Diego area Costcos recently when visiting my family and they have more Southern California beers (Stone, Green Flash, etc.) whereas the SF area ones have more Lagunitas and Bay Area brews.

                              1. re: soupçon

                                Livermore Costco has huge selection of beers, wine ... That one is $99 @Livermore.

                              2. San Francisco & Daly City Costcos have more cheese selection than Foster City and Mountain View. SF Costco tends to have more Chinese specialities that not all the Bay Area Costcos seem to carry (depends if the neighborhood has heavy Asian population, I suppose).

                                1. By chance I was at Redwood City Costco visiting from SoCal
                                  shopping for back to school goodies for grandson and asked
                                  a mgr I noticed quite a few items not available down south,
                                  duck,tomahawk steaks blue tortilla chips and truvia ect and
                                  his comment was this store is the try out place for new items
                                  in the chain. Last year they had duck and I searched in
                                  vain in socal costco without finding this item. He said they are
                                  always trying new exciting items.

                                  1. I'm always amazed by the civility of the Costcos outside San Francisco and the immediate Bay Area (SF, SSF, etc).

                                    It's wonderful to move through the store without old ladies from Hong Kong running you down to get a free sample of the latest Joint Juice.

                                    Oh, and if you don't live in SF and you don't get my tongue in cheek, then please don't have a conniption because of my candor.