After living in California for over 6 years, I finally broke down and got myself a Costco membership tonight. It's not terribly new to me, since we had Sam's Club back in Ohio and I'd occasionally go there with my Mom to, uh, "help" her shop. (Ooh! We need some of this, right?!)

Why did I wait so long? I have no idea.

Why did I finally get the membership? One of my flying buddies mentioned that he got some great micro fiber towels there for cleaning aircraft canopies. I used one over the weekend and decided that I needed some of my own. And he was actually the third pilot who told me of something useful he bought at Costco cheaply in the last year.

As the say, the third time's a charm. So I headed over there tonight, got the membership, and walked the whole store without a shopping cart. I wanted to resist the temptation to buy more than I can carry out on my first visit. This was a reconnaissance mission.

That exercise was quite useful, since I now have a very good idea what I shouldn't buy at the local grocery store anymore. Next time I hit Costco, I'll stock up on those items.

As a bonus, my local Costco shares a parking lot with the nearest Trader Joe's. I end up going there once a month anyway.

Got any favorite Costco deals?

Posted by jzawodn at February 14, 2006 09:31 PM

Reader Comments
# Al Chang said:

Get those almond nuts!

on February 14, 2006 09:56 PM
# Tom said:

The Pizza, not the stuff they sell in the store but the stuff at the food court. Best Pizza Ever!

on February 14, 2006 09:59 PM
# Flexo said:

Don't know if this would interest you, but Costco members get a $65 bonus and a 10% rebate for transactions at ShareBuilder, and if you're an executive member of Costco, the bonus is $85 and the rebate is 25%.

on February 14, 2006 10:06 PM
# Dan Isaacs said:

I have a BJ's membership. It wasn't what I expected.

on February 14, 2006 10:09 PM
# Hasan Diwan said:

The petrol (or gas to the Yanks) at Costco is the only reason I have a membership. If only they took something other than AMEX.

on February 14, 2006 10:50 PM
# Sam Mesh said:

You could enjoy 42" 1920x1080 HD LCD TV just for $2000($500 off), online...

on February 14, 2006 10:56 PM
# Ryan said:

Paper products like toilet paper, paper towels and napkins are pretty good to buy there. My wife and I go once or twice a quarter and stock up.

Don't listen to Al about buying nuts there. The worst almonds I ever had was a Kirkland bag from Costco. Get your nuts at Trader Joe's. The quality is better and they're cheaper than your local mega-mart.

Condiments that don't spoil (like mustard) are also good to get there.

on February 14, 2006 11:34 PM
# Marc said:

Booze. Their prices on things like rum and tequila are great.

on February 14, 2006 11:41 PM
# Melissa Della said:

I don't know how many of these are just good deals compared to other stores in my area, but: liquor/wine, bagels, milk, toilet paper/paper towels/tissue, condiments, cleaning products, movie tickets, and sometimes electronics, appliances, and books.

on February 14, 2006 11:49 PM
# Patrick Mullen said:

I hate shopping, at COSTCO or anywhere. I usually wait in the parking lot while the wife does it. She seems to have an eye for getting a good price on stuff.

If you need tires or dog food you can get some good deals. They had a pretty good deal on canned air a couple of months ago, but I went back recently and they were out of stock.

The hot dogs are OK. Their pies are really tasty. I'll snag one if I get suckered into pushing the shopping cart.

Aren't all almonds the same regardless of the package they come in?

on February 15, 2006 02:08 AM
# Todd Jefferson said:

The Kirkland brand Starbucks roasted coffee is pretty good. I comes in 2lb bags, so we get it for the office. Much better than any coffee service will get you.

on February 15, 2006 05:16 AM
# Satya said:

Get the gas. It's anything from 1 to 10 cents cheaper per gallon.

My local costco is 10 miles away and shares the lot with no one. At least it's next to one of the (two) malls.

on February 15, 2006 07:16 AM
# alan herrell - the head lemur said:

Kirkland Brand Glossy Photo Paper!
Great paper at a great price

on February 15, 2006 07:20 AM
# Antone Roundy said:

We pay for our Costco membership with savings on milk alone. And lately, the savings on gas have been a nice bonus.

on February 15, 2006 07:23 AM
# Barnaby James said:

The office supplies are usually a good deal and it's a great place to go if you are having a BBQ. Going on a weeknight before Costco closes (~8-8:30) usually makes the experience a lot less unpleasant than going on a weekend.

on February 15, 2006 07:40 AM
# Costco Member said:

In similarly interesting news, I got up, ate a bannana and some yogurt I bought at Cosentino's in Santa Clara and started reading this post.

on February 15, 2006 07:44 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Cosentino in Santa Clara?

I used to live *right* behind that store. :-)

on February 15, 2006 07:53 AM
# Aaron B. Hockley said:

Gas. They're usually 2-6 cents cheaper than the next cheapest guy, and they won't charge me a 45 cent surcharge to use my debit card (like the next cheapest guy).

on February 15, 2006 08:08 AM
# CY said:

I moved out to the midwest from the Bay Area where there's only Sam's Club -- luckily, I'm moving back after school. The difference between Sam's Club and Costco is like the difference between Walmart and Target. Sam's Club here is *ghetto* with crappy products. Costco is for yuppies (in a good way).

on February 15, 2006 08:28 AM
# Tom Becker said:

Bolthouse Farms products
Odwalla products
Some decent produce
Fish Oil capsules (omega 3's)
Sonoma Roasted Pepper Salsa
Great deals on smoked Salmon
Cat and Dog beds but don't buy the pet food (it's garbage)

on February 15, 2006 09:37 AM
# Pamela said:

Shopping at Costco on Valentine's day was a good idea (my very romantic hubby and I did the same thing). That's one tip -- it's usually very crowded but last night it was dead (and all of the flowers were sold out, but that's another story). So shopping on romantic holiday evenings is a good idea. We usually stock up on meat, booze, gasoline, diapers, wipes, etc. If you'd ever have the need, infant formula seems to be a great deal, too.

on February 15, 2006 09:45 AM
# Simon said:

Coming from a former Costco employee... the best thing about Costco is their return policy. You can return just about any (non food) item for just about any reason and theyll either a)give you your money back or b)exchange it for a new item or one equivalent to it. In addition, you DON'T need a receipt because all of your purchases are linked to your membership card. I've done this with iPods (returned a 3g iPod for 4g iPod), TVs (returned a 37" hdtv lcd for a 50" hdtv lcd), tires (got a flat, they fix it for free), cookware (accidentally ruined a pan when i left hot oil on it for 3 days, they gave me a whole new set), and a vacuum cleaner (my drunk roommate tried to vacuum up a large volume of liquid).

on February 15, 2006 09:48 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Costco also treats its employees like people. Pays a living wage. For that alone they should be rewarded with our business.

on February 15, 2006 10:12 AM
# Paliopolis said:

Not that it matters to lot of people, but being a new parent of twins ;-) , dont forget those baby wipes and diapers :o) , Costoco has the best price on them.

on February 15, 2006 10:25 AM
# AJH said:

Forget about the pizza. It's all about the Chicken Bakes!

There are also some great wind-up LED flashlights there to keep in your car/plane/bomb shelter.

on February 15, 2006 10:56 AM
# lantzilla said:

Not sure if what level of membership you have, but if you get the executive package, they send you coupons that are worth their weight in gold!

Buy one get one free of TDK DVD-R or DVD-R.

$.20 each!!

on February 15, 2006 02:45 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

Fantastic computer and monitor return policy.
Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil (sometimes available)
Parmesan Cheese
AA Batteries
Food Samples!
Polish at drink for $1.50

on February 15, 2006 07:05 PM
# JW said:

Fonseca Bin 27. Good port. Best price.

on February 15, 2006 10:17 PM
# Craig said:

Get the Costco AMEX CARD, it is a FREE AMEX card as long as you stay an active Costco Member, I just got a check from AMEX for $200 ! They give you back 1, 2, or 3 percent depeneding on where the charge was done, Eat Out, Travel, Other, and you get the rebeate no matter where you use the card. Apply online at, keep an eye on the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves!

on February 16, 2006 05:12 AM
# Andrew S said:

Ugh, those chicken bakes are nasty.

My Costco recommendations:

- 3 lb stick of dry salami
- Cheap, fast photo printing, small and large sizes (though I always have to brighten up images for printing there)
- Tires
- Salad greens
- Waffle maker (the Waring Pro model)
- The beef there is good, but not as good or inexpensive as the PW market
- Granola bars
- Hot links
- Beer
- Popular books/movies
- Popular movies

on February 16, 2006 05:25 AM
# alek said:

Someone mentioned their photo department - great stuff with the ability to upload digital images before you go (in addition to loading in-store from pretty much any physical medium). Even if you do the later, load 'em up as you enter the store, and by time you are ready to leave, they should be done. Up to 12x18 AWESOME prints (if you have a good quality original) for $2.99 ... and you can order online 20x30's for (I recall $9.99) - haven't done the later, but for photohounds, a really nice setup.

BTW, I may have missed it in the comments, but long-running joke about Costco is that you can NEVER leave without spending at least $100 - ignoring your recon visit, let us know if you are successful in doing this! ;-)

on February 16, 2006 10:17 AM
# Mary Swann said:

And the help at Costco is terrific. Always willing, smiling and above all else PATIENT. I love 'em all.

on February 22, 2006 04:41 PM
# costco employee said:

Costco is a great company to workfor great pay and good benefits.I also stand behind all of our products.

on February 23, 2006 08:39 PM
# Former Costco Employee said:

I used to work for Costco while in college and have known someone to work for Sam's Club. The difference in pay and benefits is huge. Costco really puts a great deal of emphasis on treating it's people well so that their employees, in turn, provide the best possible service to Costco's customers.

on February 24, 2006 10:18 AM
# Haywood Jablomi said:

Not a bad place, but haven't really noticed many good deals on food....other than getting huge packages, the unit price is usually the same or worse than a regular grocery store.

Why did they stop selling Pampers? And why did they raise the price of Kirkland diapers $3 after they got rid of the Pampers?

Kirkland infant formula is not as good as Enfamil....much more "powdery" and made my baby gassy and bloated. Still, best price around on the Enfamil!

Ditto on the diaper wipes! Seems to be the best value out there!

on February 24, 2006 03:22 PM
# Triode said:

Dear Flexo:
can you please explain further about the ShareBuilder options offered by Costco? How does this work?

You may repsond by email if you care to:

# Flexo said:

Don't know if this would interest you, but Costco members get a $65 bonus and a 10% rebate for transactions at ShareBuilder, and if you're an executive member of Costco, the bonus is $85 and the rebate is 25%.
on February 14, 2006 10:06 PM

on March 2, 2006 07:07 PM
# Moe said:

Costco is very good overall. However, some stores (e.g., Irvine, CA) have a policy that without a reciept you only get store credit and for the lowest price for that item. It is really irritating, especially for expensive purchases that you want to return due to genuine reasons. Since they must have a record of every transaction for each member, it beats me why they need receipts at all.

on March 17, 2006 03:47 PM
# Chris said:

All of the Costco stores near my home recently stopped selling the Kirkland Infant Formula which was a great price. Does anyone know where else this product can be purchased?

on April 26, 2006 07:40 AM
# Susan said:

Do not buy cat or dog food at Costco. It is total garbage and gave my cat crystals in his urin within 6 months of eating it. If you care about your animals, pay a little more and get the good stuff.

on July 9, 2008 12:37 PM
# said:

I was able to buy roasted tomatoes in oil for a while in the Costco store near me. They sold it near the Salsa and Humus. I have not seen it in over a year, do you know what the brand name was?

on January 3, 2010 06:50 AM
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