The Costco Experience

By Muneezah Jawad

Image credit: 123RF Stock Photos

Image credit: 123RF Stock Photos

Costco is a membership warehouse club with locations throughout the world.  It has merchandise ranging from snow blowers to pet food. All your needs are under one roof. I think its best described as a shopper’s paradise and every husband’s nightmare.

Many a brave man has walked into the store to leave huffing and puffing with a truck load of things, a smug, smiling wife and a much lighter wallet!

The irony is that Costco requires you to purchase an annual membership to actually spend your money there. Membership options vary from province to province ranging from $55-$150, with varying tiers to choose from. You can sign up in store at customer service desk or online at www.costco.ca. Entrance to the main shopping area is allowed only with a membership card.

They are in partnership with American Express so you can apply for a credit card and earn extra air miles and up to 2% in rebates if you get their executive membership. In fact no other credit card is accepted at Costco. It is also beneficial for small businesses as they can get tax exemption if they are purchasing goods for resale.

Now that you have the coveted membership, you may get tricked into thinking you are at an amusement park, when in actual fact you may just have walked into a dragon’s lair. Being a warehouse, there are no frills and fanfare with regards to décor. Don‘t let this deter you from seeking out some excellent deals. Also be cautious, not everything is cheap. Over time you will recognize bargains. Do not let the store overwhelm you. You have to slay the dragon!

Here’s a quick summary of what I consider the most useful aspects of the store.

Eatables and Drinkables

If the irresistible smells of the onsite bakery don’t tempt you, delectable treats in the freezer section will. The fresh produce and dairy section make you feel as if you have walked into your personal little farm.  Drinks are in abundance, also enough snack food to make you gain 10 pounds just by looking. My favourite buys are nut-free school snacks and juices for kids. Staples such as oils, rice, flour, sauces and nuts are all at good prices. Food stuff in general is a bargain and better quality.

Electronics, furniture and fixtures

My husband has a dream. It’s that 90 inch TV they have set up right at front of the store. He stares at it wistfully as I drag him past it to more interesting things – like their jewelry section. From major appliances to flash drives they have it all. The best thing is, in most cases, Costco lets you return items without much hassle. They even provide extended warranty on certain electronics.

They have a vast selection of furniture, flooring, lighting, bathroom and kitchen fixtures. They even provide installation services. Do your research beforehand though, while priced decently, their brand selection is limited.

Toys, books, sports and gifts

Their selection of toys, video games and books is noteworthy and a steal all year round. Around Christmas time our trips to Costco become almost a weekly ritual. The variety expands and they have the most wonderful gift baskets and chocolates. I stock up for birthdays, teachers’ gifts and other occasions.

With every season comes different sporting equipment, skis, bicycles, fishing rods, toboggans. Being a big and busy store, the one drawback is that they don’t have much staff around for advice. Discussions about which bike is best for you or the size of ski you need are best done at a sports store. Once you know what you need come and find it at Costco.

Clothing, cleaning and decorating

In the middle of Costco is their clothing section. Varying by season and brand, there is something for every age. I have found beautiful dresses for my girls and lots of socks. Occasionally they bring in private vendors who also display their own brand of shoes, clothes and jewelry.

I don’t know about you but I love buying cleaning products. Buying them in over-sized containers makes me think they might actually sprout arms and legs to get scrubbing themselves. They are especially a bargain if they are on sale, which is frequent. A must buy for me are the dishwasher tabs we use. Sometimes they are 5 dollars off and I stock up then.

Apart from bedding, Costco also has a great selection of home décor and kitchen items. This is an area my husband tries to shoo me away from. Dinner sets, vases, knick knacks it’s all there folks.

Other departments

Believe it or not, Costco does have everything. An auto shop for parts and tires, a photo center, an optical center and a seasonal gardening section where just last month we purchased 25 bags of mulch.

What I find most useful is the pharmacy and beauty section. A lot of over- the- counter medication is cheaper in multi-packs. Even prescription medication costs less because of lower service fees.

You can also purchase tickets to worldwide attractions, restaurants and the cinema for a good value.

 Costco Online and Services

The website provides you with all the information you need about membership, products and services. You can also shop online where they have an even wider selection and in most cases delivery is free for large purchases.

There is a wide range of services on offer, from payroll to courier, residential telecommunications to car rentals and more. I suggest that before you purchase anything Costco should be the first port of call.

And finally…

Costco is a shopping haven, but be warned – you will end up spending a lot of money at every visit. It is best suited to larger families especially ones with children.  Go there during off peak hours as it a real stampede during weekends. If you haven’t cooked lunch that day they provide a ton of sampling and their snack bar provides great food for cheap. I confess we always leave the store with ice-cream in one hand and french-fries in the other.

 

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad Butt is the Social Media Manager and Editor at MuslimMoms.ca

 

So, have you ever considered becoming a Costco member? Do you think you will renew your membership? Share with us your experiences and favorite purchases, shopping tips and tricks on our forum.