So a couple of weeks ago, Rebekah from the Mum Central team put together a really informative article on the 10 Ways to Maximise Your Costco Membership. I read it and edited it and was mildly interested in it. I mean, it’s an article on a supermarket. How exciting could that be?
Well, quite interesting apparently. It went a bit mental. To date it’s had over 1,300 social shares and over 16,000 people have read it.
I don’t get it. What is the big deal? Why is everyone crazy for Costco? There was only one for me to find out.
The hard way.
This week I popped my Costco Cherry… and it didn’t hurt quite as much as I thought it would.
“What’s the first rule of Costco? You have to be a member of Costco
What’s the second rule of Costco? You have to be a member of Costco”
You can’t shop at Costco unless you are a member so I asked Belinda [our founder and esteemed leader] to take me. Also, I needed some moral support. This kind of shopping is just not my thing. Or so I thought.
The first thing I noticed was the size of the joint. This place is huge with a carpark to match. The trolleys are also gigantic. This is true supersized shopping.
We walked in past the door bitch [who was a lovely bloke] checking off people’s receipts as they left the building and entered another dimension. Pallets of printed polar fleece tops flanked one side of the walkway and a tv screen the size of a car was happily playing Frozen on the other.
“Well, this is gonna suck”
Except it didn’t. It didn’t suck at all.
Once I got past the high-end leisure gear and tvs I quickly realised that this wasn’t just an enormous version of Cheap as Chips as I had originally thought. I became more impressed with every step further into the abyss.
The range of products is incredible. Sure, there’s some random gear and there are some lines that they don’t carry but their standard everyday items are well-known, high-quality brands. They have their own brand too, called Kirkland and, since joining an online group [yes, there is a Costco group and the members are prolific] I have learnt that’s high quality as well.
My sole reason for heading to the other side of town was to research a new shopping experience. I walked out with $200 worth of stuff [settle down, the MEMBER I was with bought it] It’s kind of like every time I go to Ikea and leave with candles and serviettes [you can NEVER have too many of either] except that what I left with was stuff that I would need to buy anyway but cost a lot less than where I would usually buy it from.
For example, I entertain guests A LOT at home so will always make sure my pantry is stocked with staples such as crackers etc to round out a cheeseboard. I picked up two regular brands of mine for far less than I would normally pay. Did I NEED to buy them right then? No. Will they be put to good use? ABSOLUTELY. Did it save me money? Fuck yeah.
I also picked up the first decent sized container of cinnamon [one of my pantry staples] that I have ever seen for only about $3 AND a big box of organic, gluten-free crackers that cost a fortune at the local supermarkets for a steal. And then I re-filled my gift cupboard with fabulous books which saved me a bucket load but will still make me look like a hero when the kids unwrap them
The biggest surprise for me though was the gourmet selection of grocery items and fresh produce. They have top quality stuff and brands that I already buy but I was most impressed with their selection of local stuff. I incorrectly assumed that they only had imported gear but I walked out with a full 500g round of organic camembert from Udder Delights in the Adelaide Hills for only $12.
They also have stuff that I’ve never seen and, I hate to say it but, at this stage of my life, that’s exciting! I’m talking frozen churros that you can just chuck in the oven and serve with chocolate. Yeah. Not to mention frozen slow-cooked pork belly… which can get in MY belly and that hideous orange American cheese which I have no interest in but still impressed that I have access to.
Plus they sell safes. I’m always on the look out for one of them.
My top virgin tips are:
1. Make sure you know your prices before you go OR at least be prepared to look it up online on your phone to compare. Some stuff was only marginally cheaper but I would have had to buy kilos of it and other stuff was incredible value. There were also products that I regularly buy on sale at the usual supermarkets which worked out cheaper than they were selling them there.
2. Make sure you have lots of time! It’s worth checking each aisle and if you’re comparing prices etc you’ll need the extra time.
3. Bring insulated cooler bags with ice packs. Their fresh and frozen goods are fabulous and if, like me, you’re from the other side of town you’ll want to keep them cool for the hike back home.
4. If you can, shop with a friend or family member and split the cost. As a wog European family, we’ve been doing this for years. It’s not uncommon for Mum to rock up with 3 kilos of capsicums, 2 slabs of tinned tomatoes and a bag of cucumbers that she’s split from her discounted haul at the farmer’s markets. But it’s not so common to share cheap groceries…because it’s hard to find good quality, cheap groceries. Well, Costco has put an end to THAT!
5. If you have a party or luncheon or event coming up – consider going to Costco to cater for it. Their freshly made platters and artisan style pizzas blew my mind. And their bread! My god, their artisan style baguettes [$6 for three] are DEE-LICIOUS.
6. You can totally pimp your kids party lolly bags here or raise some decent coin at your school’s local fete. They have aisles FULL of bulk lollies including a drum full of ONE THOUSAND chupa chups for $170. That’s 17c per lollipop. Hello fund raiser!
7. Oh and Bel recommends that if you can’t go in the morning during the week to go at night [they’re open til 8pm] and don’t go on the weekend if you can help it. It’s crazy busy then.
The wrap up?
It’s about time we got access to this kind of shopping in Australia and American ex-pat friends of mine tell me that it’s exactly like the warehouses over there except for the focus on local produce. From what I can tell the $60 annual membership fee is worth it and so is the super cheap petrol you have access to as a member.
Next week, I’m taking the husband, Mum, Aunty Maja, my brother and a ute. Just in case anyone wants a new spa bath!