Costco Capers

The American wholesale company, Costco, has finally opened in Melbourne. We took a while to visit because it’s downtown which is not easy to get to…traffic and construction at Docklands are not very inviting. Nevertheless, we were curious.

Not that we were going to buy anything. We were just coming to have a look.

Even if you aren’t buying anything you still have to pay to enter. Annual membership is $60 which is refundable if you don’t want to remain a member. Our intention was to pay the $60, have a quick wander around and then promptly ask for our refund.

I have to say that it’s not easy to join this organisation. There are two queues. In the first queue you fill out a life history, give a blood sample, be weighed and fingerprinted. Have an iris recognition test, an MRI etc etc.

Not really, but it certainly took a long time in the first queue. Then you were sent to the second queue where your photo was taken and you handed over your credit card for the membership fee. That took a good half hour but I was informed by an attendant that usually it takes a lot longer. We were here on a quiet day.

Well, we decided to stroll around without one of those gigantic trolleys because we were JUST LOOKING, after all.

After an initial inspection of the products on sale we decided that perhaps it would be worthwhile to get a trolley, just for a few items, you understand. Let’s face it, we only came to look around.

A good two hours later we guided our laden trolley through the checkout. Total? $450

That was including a couple of terrific folding chairs at $30 each which put Ikea’s stuff to shame. What made it even better is that these chairs were made in the U.S.A and not in China as most “Aussie” stuff is.

So what is my opinion of Costco? Unlike Aldi whose quality is inferior, in my opinion (I have actually had to throw out some of their frozen vegetables because they were horrible), Costco’s food products are great. Their home brand, Kirkland, named after the town where the business began, is excellent.

One can purchase white goods there and huge TV sets as well as furniture and even mattresses. We didn’t buy any of those, but they are there and can be used for comparison shopping.

If you are going to buy frozen foods then you definitely need to bring an esky with you to keep the foods cold. The same goes for meat and dairy, of course.

You also need to bring your own boxes to make things easier.

Since Costco likes to sell in bulk you would have to be careful not to buy too many perishable goods at once. However, we did buy 60 rolls of Kleenex toilet tissues. We actually looked like Russian shoppers on the day that toilet paper came to the co-op. But a bargain’s a bargain, is it not?

You wouldn’t go to Costco every week but every couple of months or so you could stock up on large items as well as buying fantastic groceries. The fresh fruit and vegetables were excellent. I did not buy any of the meat apart from a barbecued chicken.

Unfortunately, the only thing missing was Lawson’s bread. They did have that dreadful Abbott’s Village Bakery stuff which George Weston has just introduced. It is meant to look and taste like YE Olde Bakery Shoppe bread but I have tasted it and it doesn’t compare with Lawson’s.

Since we are interested in consumer affairs we visited Coles and compared the prices with what we had purchased at Costco. Our saving was 40% and that’s not counting some of the luxury food items which we usually avoid at the supermarkets and the two chairs which one can’t buy anywhere else.

Conclusion? We are keeping our membership. It will be easier next time since we won’t have to jump through hoops to enter the store. Just show your membership card with the silly pix on it and let yourself go.

Oh yes, they do inspect you on your way out, so don’t even try to secrete those 60 rolls of toilet paper on your person cause SECURITY will nab you! lol


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