I have been debating joining Costco for a couple of reasons, and I wanted to find out if you guys think it really saves you money or if you just end up with very large quantities of products you don’t really want. (IE – I am excited about 28 cans of Progresso soup I just wish it was more than two flavors in the box. I can get behind the 12 boxes of Lean Cuisines but just wish it had two of my favorites instead of just one. Is it a deal if I eat 10 boxes of Lean Cuisines I’m not crazy about?)
Here’s why I am finally seriously considering joining:
Two incidents have made me think I need to join.
No. 1: A few weeks ago a college-age male clerk at Target was helping me out to my car with my purchases. It was admittedly a lot of stuff. It was a lot of my packaged groceries – ie Dinosaur oatmeal, Neutella, peanut butter, chips, Coke products – and toiletry-type items – four-pack of toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, … You get the picture.
So the kid says “You know you really should be shopping at Costco if you’re going to buy this much stuff. Even with my employee discount I know I save more on these types of things at Costco.”
I felt awful. If a the store clerk and a kid is telling you that could be saving more elsewhere then it’s time to really consider it.
No. 2: Also after our glasses conversation I started pricing glasses and think the $50 joining fee would be made up with the glasses for my son and myself (I think I need bifocals!!!! How awful!)!
Here are my concerns:
So I spent more than hour on Saturday just walking through Costco looking at what they had and the cost of things. (I have a pretty good idea of what I normally spend on items between Target, Wal-Mart and Kroger so I wanted to compare.)
I don’t even mind the $50 to join so much as I’m just worried am I really going to use what I buy or am I going to be stuck with products I don’t really want but they were a bargain?
For example, I didn’t see our favorite toilet paper. (Can we convert? I’m not sure.) I didn’t see the shampoo I like for the kids or my husband’s gel or the kids’ favorite toothpaste. Eight packages of toothpaste you don’t want is simply not a deal.
I was excited about inexpensive baked goods and flowers. And I know my friends love Costco’s meat but when I asked the “butcher” (or the guy putting out meats) if they had antibiotics and hormones in them, he said unless it was marked as “no antibiotics” or “no hormones” then I should assume it has it. (Is that your understanding of it? Have you guys ever asked?) And I am leery of buying vegetables in bulk. (Tell me your experiences with their fresh stuff.)
I think the answer may be that I only buy what I know we are going to use: my Coke products, my cleaning products, my paper towels, laundry detergent, some frozen foods, some cereals, lotions, pain relievers, allergy meds, sunscreen, etc… I would try to buy my glasses there if possible. I was impressed talking to one of the opticians. He was very knowledgeable and I think we would end up buying electronics there when we need them.
However, then that means another trip to Target or Wal-Mart to get the brands of things I can’t get at Costco – another store!!
Is it going to save me enough money that it’s worth adding another store into my rotation? (I think I would go once a month to Costco for those big things I know we’ll use, fresh stuff from farmer’s market weekly and then fill in with Target or Wal-Mart.)
So what do you think: Do you truly save money buying in bulk at Costco? Do you find the brands you want? Is it worth the $50 to join? Do you make that back quickly? What do you mainly buy there? What have your experiences been with the meat and produce? Do you like their in-store brand or only buy the name-brands there? Is it worth adding another store into my rotation or do you think I am doing close to as well at Target and Wal-Mart?