We canceled our Costco membership a few months ago and I don’t miss Costco at all. Costco is great if you have a big family and can save by buying bulk. We joined Costco last year after baby RB40 was born so we could buy Kirkland brand formula. Mrs. RB40’s cousin recommended it and it is much more affordable than brand names like Enfamil or Similac. Now that he is happily drinking whole milk, we don’t have a compelling reason to shop at Costco anymore.
If you are not in the US, you might not know what Costco is, so here is a short intro. Costco is a membership only warehouse store that sells all kinds of consumer products such as TVs, clothes, food, wine, and much more. Costco usually has lower prices than other stores, but most of their products are sold in bulk. So instead of buying a small carton of Cheerios, you have to buy a giant 2.5 lb box. You also have to be a member who paid a membership fee to shop at Costco.
Overall, I like Costco, but I just don’t want to pay for the privilege of shopping there. We also don’t consume enough stuff to justify being a member. Usually I bought 3 big cans of Kirkland formula and that’s about it. Then I’d have to stand in a long line just to get checked out. Our family is small and our condo cupboards are full, so we don’t purchase much of anything anymore except to replace consumables.
Here are some pros and cons of being a Costco member.
Great prices - If you have 3 teenagers, then I think a Costco executive membership would be very worthwhile.
Great frozen food section - I really like the frozen food section at Costco. The food tastes great and they have a big variety. If I didn’t cook, then I probably would buy a ton of frozen food from Costco. We don’t really eat frozen food so we didn’t take advantage of this section much.
Sample carts – How do I know that the frozen food tastes good? The tasting carts are always out and I’m always up for a free taste. It’s a lot of fun to try all the various food samples, especially ones I hadn’t tried before. Stop by all the carts a few times and you don’t even have to buy lunch!
Costco Coupons – The Costco coupon books are pretty good. It’s an easy way to find good deals. I liked to browse the coupon book and buy a few things that were on sale that month.
Gas – Costco gasoline is usually 5-10 cents cheaper than other gas station. This is probably the only thing I remotely miss about being a Costco member. I can just go there and don’t have to worry about finding the cheapest gas station.
Too busy – They are always always super busy there. The parking lot is always packed, the lines are long, and there are tons of people in the store. We don’t like to be crowded or pushed by a gigantic cart when we’re browsing new merchandise.
Groceries – We still need to go to the supermarket for groceries. The grocery items at Costco are just too big. I liked the 3 liter olive oil because we can slowly use it, but the 5 lb bag of broccoli is too big for us. Anything that can go bad will go bad because we can’t use it up. Even if we made meals in large quantities, we have no way to store the leftovers in our small fridge. The price at Costco is good, but often you can buy a generic brand for less at the grocery store. If you like brand names, then Costco is a good deal.
Membership – Yeap, I don’t like paying membership fees. The executive membership is $110 (you get 2% back) and the regular membership cost $55 in 2012. I think Costco would do a lot better if they don’t have a membership fee, but what do I know.
Storage space – We simply do not have room to store more stuff. We live in a <1,000 square feet condo and storage space is a luxury that we don’t have. If we had a garage, maybe I would be more receptive to buying bulk.
All in all, Costco does not make sense for us. It was great to try them for a year because we needed theKirklandbaby formula. Now that baby RB40 is drinking organic whole milk, we don’t need to go there anymore. It took a lot of time to stop by Costco as well as the grocery store and I’m glad to have that time back.
What about you? Are you a member and if so do you like Costco?
photo credit: flickr Elvert Barnes