Counting the cost of Costco

Costco WholesaleI first wrote about Costco way back in August 2009, but I wasn’t brave enough to be part of the first rush of people to visit. But after the crush of early crowds died down, I finally got around to seeing first hand whether the fuss is justified. It’s not as if I haven’t been to one of these before; on a trip to Canada many years ago I visited a similar monstrosity, and brought back a box of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream chocolate bars that I doled out to my friends. It might be a revelation for Australia, but it’s nothing on what they’ve got over across the Pacific.

The selection was underwhelming, although it would be unfair to compare it to the American versions – their plethora of choice and hyperconsumption is not an ideal we should be aspiring to. Things that I found cheap:

  • Junk food. Oh my lord, you can buy this stuff for mere cents per kilo. I walked away with no less than a 1.8Kg tub of Jelly Belly jellybeans, a kilo bag of Bhuja Mix, enough breath mints to undo the effects of eating out at Korean restaurant for a year, and 2 massive bags of Rice Crackers.
  • Frozen goods. Bacon shortcuts that cost about $15+ a kilo at the supermarkets went for about $10 a kilo, and likewise cheese, dim sims, chips, ice cream, etc.

Things that are about the same as, or worse than, supermarkets:

  • Fresh food. Loaves of Helgas bread worked out to be $3.50 per loaf, which is more expensive that at the supermarkets, which normally sell them for $6.50 for 2 (and often less, at $5 or $6) every other week. Meat is cheaper at the butchers in a busy area, say, the Chinese side in Eastwood and fruit and veg were pretty ordinary as well.
  • Gadgets. The selection of electronics and their prices were underwhelming.

On that pet topic of mine: their kitchen paper towels are pretty excellent – good, tough sheets that are absorbent and can even withstand having the water wrung out of them. Their bathroom tissue, on the other hand, is atrocious. The Kirkland 2-ply tissues are thin and tear easily.

In saying I couldn’t find much to buy, I still managed to drop over $200 there, so they must be doing something right. It’s not a place I’d go to do my shopping regularly though – if only for the sake of my waistline. Maybe once or twice a year or on special occasions.



  1. Marto

    The best bargain is $1.50 soft drink with refill! I found the most ideal outdoor storage box I’ve been looking for since couple years ago. The box even shows the same items I’d like to put inside it.

    It’s quite an effort to navigate around the busy story with their large trolley. I kept telling myself not to buy things I hardly use/eat and still shocked with the total amount.

    • Yup, that’s exactly what happened to us too… didn’t expect to spend much but still managed to burn a couple of hundred dollars.

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