I’m serious. This isn’t one of those Top five posts, it’s a serious, legitimate question. It’s my first-world problem but I’m keen to know if it’s yours too.
It’s that time of the year again where I have to pay $55 to renew my Costco membership. Costco is one of those love-em-or-hate-em kind of places; a necessary evil. But is it (necessary I mean)?
Costco is making its mark around the world. Many of my friends at home swear by it and recently when I was in Australia entertaining a Korean client (OK that didn’t sound good but get your mind back to Costco) he gave up that he has a Costco (not helping I agree): he’s a regular Costco goer, spends hours there and loves it.
Here’s my problem with Costco. You have to pay for the privilege of shopping there. Genius. Whoever approved that business idea really ought to be shot—but lucky it was approved because we buy it and it works. (I’d love to see how much of its revenue is actually generated by the annual membership).
Secondly, it’s like Ikea; you walk in there with a small list of things to buy and you come out with stuff you never imagined yourself buying—or needing. Many people know—or discovered—Costco for its quirky things like hearing aids and tyres, even holiday packages. But did you know you could buy a gun safe from there? I’m not sure I’ve even seen a safe safe but a gun safe you can buy. I’ve even seen designer handbags. Expensive ones.
(Oh, and by the way, I think Ikea is a necessary evil).
Thirdly, it’s a shitfight. Really. No one actually likes going to shop there (except for the converted cult shoppers who have grins all over their faces relishing every minute and every possible bargain there is to be had); like I said it’s a necessary evil.
I go for the catering/bulk size items like giant Nutella (two for the price of one medium-size); meat (very nice); sugar, olive oil and tomato sauce (ketchup) and mineral water. they also have great battery-operated candles (that smell of vanilla) and Christmas decorations. But with those staples as my list I come out with nuts (they are very good), flavoured extra-virgin olive oil, sweat tops (did I just say that? jumpers), drugs—frankly anything else I don’t need.
I’m not a mathematician by any stretch but I’m thinking if I go to Costco once every six weeks and spend at least $300—$100 of which is on stuff on my shopping list that I actually wanted am I better off? That’s not 100% true if I buy meat then one piece costs me $100 but then my shopping bill climbs to $500.
It’s cost me $55 for the pleasure, plus the extra $200 per visit (let’s say eight visits per year) at $2400 and I saved a couple of hundred dollars through the year buying in bulk.
It doesn’t really add up does it? But am I willing to risk not having a membership?
What do you think? Do you have a Costco membership? Do you think it’s worth it? Are you a Costco lover or a Costco hater? Are you one of those converted cult-like followers? Tell me more, tell me more.
Enjoy your weekend,
xx It Started in LA xx
I’m definitely in tbe ‘yes’ camp. Since I’m a Domestic Goddess, I can go during the week so avoid the trolley frenzy of weekends. As you mentioned, the meat is beautiful so I stock up on meat, chicken, pork, mince and smoked salmon because I have my trusty little cryovac machine which means I don’t have to think about dinner for weeks. Kitchen towels and toilet paper are other biggies plus they have much cheaper wine and champagne. I love it because you never know what you’re going to find – I bought my Dyson Stick Vacuum Cleaner there. I can also stock up on basics like dishwashing powder, washing detergent and cleaning stuff so I don’t have to replenish them for months. Just makes life easier. Plus I bought my Marc Jacobs watch from there. Score.
Daniela, I go through the week too but it’s still a shitfight. Yes I get my cleaning stuff in bulk too but I don’t have much storage so it ends up being a pain in the butt. Sounds like you’ve had some good scores but goes to my point of go in to get meat, come out with a new vacuum cleaner. Or watch. So random!
I love your blog! I am a Costco member AND a SAMs member, so I give two companies money for allowing me to shop in their stores. We have the executive membership with Costco so we can get money back at the end of the year for shopping there. Also, Costco prefers customers to use their American Express card for purchases which I love because then I obtain points for using their card. Comparing both Costco and SAMs, if I had to give one of the memberships up, it would be SAMs. I save a bundle on my allergy medicines with Costco and I cannot get the same savings with SAMs allergy medicine. But, SAMs carries name brand products that I prefer over Kirkland brand. I agree about Costco’s meat being exceptional! Just make a list and stick only to that list!
Thanks Connie. I’ve never heard of SAMs–please share (although not sure I need another subscription!). Have to look into executive membership, that sounds good. The AMEX thing bugs me because I don’t have one and they don’t accept Mastercard so I have to pay cash. That means the opposite to you and no points! Of course you’re right I could stick to my shopping list ;-).
I live in a small community connected to Houston, TX and for many years the first bulk shopping centers we had were SAMs, part of the Wal-Mart systems and named after Sam Walton. SAMs is truly warehouse shopping just like Costco and they also have excellent meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, less expensive wine and beer, and many of the same types of items you can purchase at Costco but different brands, etc. I find I have many things I would prefer to purchase at Costco and then many items at SAMs. SAMs is on the web so take a look at what they offer, although you would need membership to purchase. And SAMs membership is less expensive at $40 for member and spouse for 1 year.
The number one reason I started following your blog was you must have been an expat from Shanghai, China. I am also previous expat from Shanghai and hope to return for a visit as it is on my bucket list! A Shanghai Expat Reunion would be wonderful! Well, just try to stick to a list when shopping at Costco. I fully understand how easy it is to window shop there and come home with way too many items!
That’s so interesting, thank Connie, thanks for sharing. Thanks also for following my blog. I remember you were one of my first followers so I appreciate it so much. Yes, we were expats in Shanghai and I remember that you were too–such excellent memories and a bond we’ll all have all over the world. Great to hear from you, I’m off to Costco this week–time for cleaning supplies and the like let’s see if I can stick to the list!