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Costco (Formerly Price Club) - A Washington-Based, Membership-Only Retailer - the Second-Largest Retailer in the World

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2 hours ago, ktmoomau said:

Now that we have a house, Hubby wanted a Costco membership.  I guess I still don't get the love of these type of stores (we had a Sam's Club membership growing up).  I have gone a couple times, but- unless you go with a group of people or have a really large household- it just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me?  And you can't really do a full grocery run there.  People told me you could online order like at Harris Teeter, but the selection seems more limited than what I could find in the store?  What am I missing?

There's a learning curve on what to buy, and sometimes items just disappear. It also depends on which store in which jurisdiction you're going to, as to what is available (alcohol and meat being the two biggest variables).  The prime cuts of beef are worth the expense (especially if you have freezer space to stash the extra couple of steaks or roasts in the package). The wines are well-selected.  Cheeses are usually good, but there is one kind of feta in brine that I've found has a weird smell even long before its use by date. The rotisserie chickens are great but have a ton of sodium.

Nuts! Very good place to buy nuts, the excess of which can go in the freezer; household cleaners and supplies that you will eventually use (laundry detergent, sponges); kitchen pans, utensils, and appliances; canned beans; boxed or canned soups and broths; underwear!; shoes; the cargo shorts they carry that I can't find anywhere else; and so forth.

Be wary of any perishable or not infinitely shelf-stable items that you don't use that often or in great quantity and aren't good freezer options.

Costco is also really good about sending out notices about any item you've purchased that has a recall on it.

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2 hours ago, ktmoomau said:

Now that we have a house, Hubby wanted a Costco membership.  I guess I still don't get the love of these type of stores (we had a Sam's Club membership growing up).  I have gone a couple times, but- unless you go with a group of people or have a really large household- it just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me?  And you can't really do a full grocery run there.  People told me you could online order like at Harris Teeter, but the selection seems more limited than what I could find in the store?  What am I missing?

 

34 minutes ago, Pat said:

There's a learning curve on what to buy, and sometimes items just disappear. It also depends on which store in which jurisdiction you're going to, as to what is available (alcohol and meat being the two biggest variables).  The prime cuts of beef are worth the expense (especially if you have freezer space to stash the extra couple of steaks or roasts in the package). The wines are well-selected.  Cheeses are usually good, but there is one kind of feta in brine that I've found has a weird smell even long before its use by date. The rotisserie chickens are great but have a ton of sodium.

Nuts! Very good place to buy nuts, the excess of which can go in the freezer; household cleaners and supplies that you will eventually use (laundry detergent, sponges); kitchen pans, utensils, and appliances; canned beans; boxed or canned soups and broths; underwear!; shoes; the cargo shorts they carry that I can't find anywhere else; and so forth.

Be wary of any perishable or not infinitely shelf-stable items that you don't use that often or in great quantity and aren't good freezer options.

Costco is also really good about sending out notices about any item you've purchased that has a recall on it.

We have a fairly large house, two toddlers, and two adults, and we don't spend enough at Costco to make back the executive membership cost with the cash back, so we have the basic (Gold) membership. I've heard that some of the best $ savers from membership is for pet food/supplies and booze, neither of which apply to us. Diapers can be cheap there when on sale, but overall, an Amazon subscription is cheaper for baby stuff, too. We keep our membership because we like their products and the rest of the family LOVES the trip itself for trying samples. My kids will eat anything while there, even if they turn up their noses at the same food brought home. We typically get meats, cheeses (Babybels, especially on sale, are a fantastic deal), paper goods (parchment paper, TP, and paper towels), pesto, mushrooms, oilve oil, and frozen prepared foods. We like the tamales, spinach ravioli, breaded shrimp, fruit, and the Cod fillets > the fish sticks (though those are pretty decent, too).  The frozen perogies, when available (only by special vendor event) are great for prepared foods. We also buy a lot of higher-end snacks, like jerky, chocolate treats, dried fruits, nuts, candies, etc. and they are quite a bit cheaper in bulk and last...long enough to be eaten down.  The boxes of chocolates or other treats can also make nice hostess/host gifts.  If you use the brands of toiletries they sell, you can save a bit there as well - all our lotions (Aveeno, Cetaphil) come from there. The price for regular grocery store snacks (Cheez-Its, Ritz, granola bars, chips) doesn't seem to be better than buying on sale and then you can do so in smaller quantities for a greater variety. We also buy some random household items/dry goods/clothes there as well, depending on what's available/on special sale.  They've set it up in treasure hunt style so you never quite know what will be there to find. 

Their return policy is still quite generous, even with the recent pullbacks. For food that you tried and don't end up liking, they will accept the remainder, no questions asked, and refund your $. For example, the big thing of cream that spoiled?  Brought in the empty container (per their instructions) on my next trip and received my $ and an apology. 

We go about once a month to catch whatever is on special warehouse sale that month plus to stock up on our usuals. Now that we have a chest freezer we might be stepping up on the prepared foods, but I don't want to go crazy for sodium-watching reasons. Many of the items are available for online order and free delivery, so if things are particularly bulky I'll check there first and just have the things sent to my house. 

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The raspberries I have are frozen.  You can thaw for 30 minutes or eat straight from freezer.

My wardrobe is now mostly Costco clothing.  They have some really comfortable clothing at good prices, and the no hassle return policy coinciding with normal shopping is great.  The store buying experience is hit and miss, but the online experience is very easy and they often run $3 off per piece promotions as they are currently doing.

I found Costco very useful for outfitting our house.  The online site has lots of furniture and storage and appliance options, with periodic discounts.  I probably saved hundreds of dollars on LED bulbs alone.

Costco travel can offer very competitive prices for cruises and car rentals.

The only caution I have is, avoid the Pentagon City location on weekends.  It's completely bonkers.

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Ktmoomau, Sam's and Costco are not the same-can't quite tell you why, but give Costco some time to figure out what works for you before you decide it is not right for you. For us, the % back more than pays for the membership cost. We are a two-person household and do a majority of shopping at Costco. Here's my stream of thoughts on what we buy:

We buy the romaine lettuce (5 per bag) and usually grill them for a dinner side. We almost always buy the large bag of broccoli, and use it to roast and eat as a dinner side, but then when we've had it a few too many days, we make soup to freeze. Sometimes we'll buy brussels sprouts or asparagus, and again add to soup what doesn't get eaten right away. We'll also sometimes buy mixed salad lettuce and carrots. We buy campari tomatoes, apples, bread (freeze the 2nd loaf) oranges, baby eggplants, mini potatoes, occasionally other fruits as recipes call for them, and bottled water, toilet paper and paper towels. What have I forgotten? Oh yes, deli turkey (we freeze what is not currently being used) same goes for the carver ham, which is quite good btw, sausages when on special purchase, and other oddities like jars of guava and mango (don't laugh, they are great for making smoothies) Also great for making smoothies are the frozen fruit and of course the fresh produce like carrots, kale, etc. I also purchase clothing, gloves and shoes, as well as books and sometimes DVD's. Cape Cod reduced fat kettle chips are often on sale, and that is our go-to brand. Nuts, as someone else mentioned, we keep in the freezer. Kirkland brand allergy meds (nasal spray and pills) are a great deal and seasonally on special, and even when not on sale are a great deal. Vitamins, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Lawn bags, Gingerade Kombucha, which is my favorite, and of course the occasional impulse buys from the tasting stations.  There are many more things we used to purchase but they have stopped carrying, but I still look out for them "just in case!" I'm sure I'm forgetting something...but if you have a FoodSaver, it helps for freezing extras, and if you don't, they do sell them there :) Oh yes, I did forget -- tires for our car!

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10 hours ago, squidsdc said:

 :) Oh yes, I did forget -- tires for our car!

And the tire guys will fill nitrogen for your tires for free! 

I don't have much exposure to Sam's or BJ's, but my impression is that Costco tend to stock more upscale brands and the Kirkland branded goods tend to be consistently of excellent quality and value.  I have shopping there for so long that I am not even sure if they have things that suit me or I adapted to prefer their stuff.  In any case, I like to bring snacks for coworkers and they tell me that they can't find what I bring in from a normal grocery store.  Home delivery isn't available yet in my area so I haven't tried, but my browse through suggest that it's a really limited selection.  Plus I see the random .97 discontinued discounted items when I am in the stores.

We are a household of 2 adults and Costco supplies probably 85 percent of our food.  We get an embarrassing amount of cash back because of my spending habits on food and non food items.

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I've found the formula (Similac Sensitive) to be a great deal.  Its a larger container and ends up cheaper by the ounce than amazon.  As a father of 10 month old twins - its been definitely a cost saver.

I also used my membership to buy my dad his hearing aids and he has been over the moon about them as well as Costco's services on this front (when he visits we go to get them "tuned up").  

While I don't buy a ton of wine there for myself, my parents who love cheap chardonnay (to each their own) have me load up on Simi when it goes on sale for them.  Additionally I was quite pleased with the Uppercut Cabernet that was on sale earlier this year.  Its a more than serviceable house wine.

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On 9/27/2018 at 10:39 AM, mr food said:

Now it's the 20 year old Kirkland Highland and I prefer it to the 18. Great buy for $54.

Speyside not Highland, sorry. 

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Has anyone tried the Ling Ling frozen potstickers? 

They are on warehouse sale this month and I just got a chest freezer so if these are good, I'll be stocking up. The ingredient list seems pretty short and pronounceable for a prepared food.

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I'm no potsticker connoisseur, but I like them. If I remember correctly the wrapper is a bit thick (as can probably be expected for mass produced frozen potstickers), but they have good flavor. They're also not crazy fattening. I'll be buying at least one bag while they're on sale. I wish I had a chest freezer!

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I don't like the Ling Ling samplers that I have tried.  They are chicken and really heavy on celery flavoring, and the filling is minced so  finely that it's a weird spongy mass.  The Bibigo bulgogi dumplings from the Gaithersburg Costco are pretty good (the vegetarian Bibigo dumplings are bland as heck).  The Chinese brands might be iffier on ingredients, but most actually taste like Chinese dumplings.  The Ling Ling samplers taste terrible to me.

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8 minutes ago, astrid said:

weird spongy mass

That's true about the filling; I had forgotten that. It doesn't bother me, but I can see how it could be a turn off. I also agree about the vegetarian Bibigo dumplings being bland. I don't think I've had the bulgogi ones.

Since the Ling Ling ones are on sale this month they'll probably have samples, so you could try for yourself.

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My kids loved the chicken ones but to me they tasted and smelled very "cabbagy" when cooking.

When they moved out, we no longer purchased them. That being said, they were often a hit at potluck gatherings.

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Haha, depending on the taste of the "spongy mass," that might actually be a benefit for us, since my kids are masters at picking out vegetables that are too loosely incorporated into meat.  Looks like I'll cross my fingers that they are sampling them when we visit Costco but expect to buy a bag to try without going crazy. I have been making a lot of dumplings lately and could use a break here and there.  Thanks for the feedback, all!

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Ok, so my Mom heard that you can get Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay at Costco (from my sister who owns a liquor store in MD) cheaper than she can buy it from her wholesaler, but I am not sure if they carry it at all locations/Alexandria in specific.  I tried calling, but there doesn't seem to be a department for that, is there a customer service number?

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I'm usually only at the Wheaton and DC Costcos, so it's not like I have a ton of Costcos to compare, but stock seems to come and go and may be available in one Costco but not another. For example, the Wheaton Costco consistently sold McCormick paprika, then they weren't selling it for weeks (there wasn't even a place on the shelf for it), but the DC Costco had a ton of it. Now the Wheaton Costco has it again. Also, I bought wines at the DC Costco and a few months later went back to buy them again and they didn't have them anymore. All that is to say that even if you found out your local Costco had that wine at some point, they may or may not have it in the future. And I'm not sure of the best way to find out short of calling your local store, which I assume you already tried.

On another note, there was some discussion in another thread about the Kirkland brand of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which they sell for $7 (that may be a sale price -- not sure), and I said I didn't love it but would totally drink it for $7. It's actually grown on me and I quite enjoy it now.

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4 hours ago, dracisk said:

IAll that is to say that even if you found out your local Costco had that wine at some point, they may or may not have it in the future. And I'm not sure of the best way to find out short of calling your local store, which I assume you already tried.

Yes, I tried, but they haven't been answering the phone (there isn't a good dept to call, so I called the membership department, who I thought would answer the phone because- money- also online chat will not connect- womp, womp.

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So they did have it, but as a note, it was the same by the bottle price at Total Wine.  Also, online it said they had frozen soft pretzels, they did not today, or my husband couldn't find them- he did find non-frozen soft pretzel bites, which will do in a pinch.  

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29 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

So they did have it

How did you find out? Did you eventually get through by phone to your local store? Or it sounds like maybe your husband did some in person scouting?

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4 minutes ago, dracisk said:

How did you find out? Did you eventually get through by phone to your local store? Or it sounds like maybe your husband did some in person scouting?

I just made my husband go- we needed the pretzels, bottled water and diet coke to take to my Mom's this weekend, and he works nearby, so- I figured if they didn't have it, I already did a web search and new Total Wine had it and figured I could hit them up on the way out of town if need be.

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