Does Costco deserve a second chance?

Costco.

You either love it or hate it.

Everything is ginormous.

Carts.

Boxes.

Chips.

Groups of screaming kids.

And there’s a hotdog stand at the checkout.

Years ago, I went with my friend in Idaho to comparison shop and found that Costco had mostly processed foods and cost more per unit than Alice.com-a precursor to smart phones and Instacart.

I compared Cascade (there were not pods then), Charmin, baby wipes and other things. I didn’t need a suitcase full of any of those for more than I could get delivered to my door.

Plus one had to pay for membership.

Wth?

Clearly a modern-day scam.

Since then, I have been biased against it until Sunday last.

Encouraged by the lady who plays piano at church and wanting to pay off our ranch this year, we bit. We decided to go walk around, note prices and units for things we would normally buy, typing the info into my phone. It took about an hour-we dawdled a bit and bought nothing.

When we got home to the city to “run the numbers”, a spreadsheet and teamwork was involved. My husband read off the Costco Instacart and HEB Instacart prices and I plunked in those prices plus the in-store the prices per unit from my phone into the laptop.

Here’s what we found:
Costco via Instacart was the clear winner.

Why?

HEB prices were nearly double @$78 for shopping and delivery. Costco in-store was $38 and Costco Instacart was $44 with delivery charge.

The cost of delivery from Costco would only cost a few dollars more than shopping inside the store.

Why not shop inside the store?

1. Temptation.

Salt Caramel Brittle Brownie 5lb bag for one thing.

2. Zombies

The giant carts driven by expressionless people. “Uh…eku meh…”

3. Gas

Not from 20 gallons of beans.

I have a Costco petrol station near work (no, I’m not British but do work in energy. “Gas” is methane-C1, “petrol” is gasoline is “heavier” around C7, C8).

I digress.

The petrol prices, comparing with premium brands would save over $100/year for my car alone, paying for the executive membership.

There are 2 memberships we considered:
*Gold: $55/year
*Executive: $110 AMEX sans $75 annual fee plus 3% off gas anywhere, 2% off groceries & restaurants. 1% back elsewhere. We hemmed about this a bit since it is a debt product, and decided it makes sense for us since we have a good handle on finances. Ninety percent of people cannot handle this, so I would not recommend it for most.

I would recommend the $55 membership if you have ANY debt outside of a mortgage.

4. NO SCREAMING KIDS.

5. The “lug” factor.

Let’s leave lugging 3 gallons of vinegar, lbs and lbs of product to our apt to the youngins.

One of the challenges will be size. The tub of hummus offered is HUGE and will need to be portioned. We will need to divide items between city and country place and allow for storage of non-perishables.

Another challenge is perishables handling-how long do mozzarella balls in oil last? Can they be frozen? Can cured meats be kept or frozen?

The third challenge is portion size. Could I handle 2lbs of mozzarella balls in olive oil and not constantly feel the need to snack on them? Could my husband handle a vat of hummus and portion it?

It seems an experiment worth trying.

Will keep you posted.

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One thought on “Does Costco deserve a second chance?

  1. This is very interesting. I quit Sam’s Club a long while back for similar reasons (it was useful with splitting the costs among 3 college roommates at the time though). Maybe I’ll give Costco a shot.. I’ll have to tour the store on lunch one day.

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