What is Costco like?

What is Costco like?


Other than produce, the selection isn't as wide as a typical grocery store, but the cost per unit can often beat grocery stores for similar items. The thing to note is that package quantities tend to be very large (think pairs of larger cereal boxes, medications/supplements in bottles of 300+, disposable spoons in packs of 200-600, frozen chicken in 10lb bags, 36-roll packs of toilet paper) Their selection/price on frozen meats and some packaged meal options is worth a trip or two every month for my family For me, the discount the pharmacy gives to members actually pays the annual membership cost twice over, and since i have to go to a pharmacy monthly, might as well stock up on goods for the month there. (I'll be stuck waiting 1-2 hours at Costco anyway while the pharmacy fills that prescription anyway)


I love Costco and happily shop there, but [you don’t need a membership to shop at the Costco Pharmacy](https://customerservice.costco.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/796/~/do-i-need-a-membership-to-purchase-prescription-drugs%3F)


Although it's worth noting that Costco charges non-members their full retail price on prescriptions, but offers discounted pricing to members. For my medicines, this is roughly a $32 vs $24 price difference each month.


Huh. I had no idea. TIL


Why are pharmacies taking so long to fill a prescription? In here, you just walk in, give them your ID and they give you your meds right away. Takes like 2 minutes.


It's a very busy pharmacy, and the medication in question requires at least two separate counts by different staff (and back counts of the remaining stock bottle), and since they don't hold onto prescriptions to be filled later, everyone drops off prescriptions they want filled that day, causing a huge backlog of work. The cost saving are worth it though.


Okay, I have some more questions now. Why are your meds not prepacked? I'd have concerns about it not being sanitary and maybe even about erroneousness of counting even if it is done by multiple people and mixing sorted/counted. Where do you guys get information for patients if you get only some container for it? Here, every medication has a pamphlet describing side effects and their frequency/seriousness, numbers for drug regulators, what the medicine should looke like, what to avoid when taking it and so on.


"Over the counter" medicine (stuff that doesn't require a prescription) is all prepackaged. Pharmacies purchase medicine in bulk packaging, they have to re-bottle it for X days' of usage. Sometimes the substance is considered particularly dangerous and you have to go back every other week to refill it, just so you don't have too much on hand at a time. It can't always be pre-packaged because doctors prescribe different doses (take X mg for Y days). Sometimes the dosage is extremely dependent on patient weight, so the pharmacy gets it in powder form and has to put it in capsules / compress it into pellets of the right size. And yes, the drugs still come with pamphlets with safety info, the pharmacy just prints it off and sticks it in/on the bag. Pharmacy techs are licensed, they get training on this. Why would they be less sanitary than whoever packaged them at the drug corp?


I find this topic very interesting, being someone from EU. What concerns me more than pathogen contamination, is the accidental cross-contamination of medicine while compressing it into pellets. I'm sure it is safe, otherwise US pharmacies would've changed it by now... But still, makes one wonder if that ever happens, even if on a micro scale.


Cross contamination might be an issue, but it's not limited to the US, or to pharmacy techs. https://ejhp.bmj.com/content/28/4/229 > Abstract > > Objective The risk of drug-drug cross contamination in drug dispensing robots in hospital pharmacies causes cumbersome restraints to be put on the production of the robot for example by scheduling high-risk drugs to be dispensed at the end of the day. However, we were unable to find published data on the matter, and therefore performed a worst-case scenario study to assess the magnitude of the problem. > > Methods We measured dexamethasone residue left on the suction cup after the production of 100 and 400 dexamethasone tablets, and after 20 paracetamol tablets used as a negative control. > > Results We found that 32.9 µg and 49.5 µg of dexamethasone had been transferred to the suction cup in the two experiments. This is approximately 1 per mille of the dexamethasone content in a 40 mg tablet. > > Conclusion We conclude that uncoated dexamethasone does shed measurable residue in the robot. It remains unknown to what extent this residue contaminates the subsequent production.


Interesting! Thank you very much. This makes a lot of sense. Edit: However, when I think about it in the original context where it's people, not machines, who produce these pellets, I feel like the risk of drug-drug contamination can be even higher in case of manual labor (with the use of some kind of tools of course, like a press). Human factor is a thing and depending on the workload (which from what I gathered can be pretty big in a pharmacy), I feel like drug-drug cross contamination can be quite common. Hopefully though, due to tiny doses of those foreign drugs, the potential impact on patients' well-being is very small.


Unless it's a specialty pharmacy or a place where compounding is done, all the pills and capsules are made by the manufacturer. It's literally taking a big bottle of 500 pills and counting out 20 or 30 or whatever the prescription is for the patient. Drugs where there might be some contamination risk, are usually pre-packed in foil bubble packs (aka blister packs) by the manufacturer. Then they just have to figure out how many of those packs of 8-12 pills you need.


I'm pretty sure they aren't manufacturing the pills on site. They are just metering out a bottle of the correct number of manufactured pills. I'm *pretty* sure. *Doubt intensifies.*


In Europe, you don't get those little orange pill bottles like we have here. They give you blister packs with the medication like you get with over the counter drugs in the US.


Most prescription medications in the US still come as bottles of pills, not blister packs (as is the norm in Europe). The pharmacy often has bulk bottles of pills, and just takes out the amount needed for the prescription your doctor wrote into an individual bottle for you. Because of that it takes a bit longer to fill prescriptions from when the pharmacy gets it to when you can pick it up. The amount of time Costco takes is too long though


Because many people like me use a uncommon quantity of medications (such as my 75 per 30 days) and it's far easier just to count out from stock bottles instead of worrying about maintaining dozens of different size packs of the same dosage. Over here, every single prescription every month is dispensed with what is typically a few pages of information. The bottle itself will contain the quantity, visual appearance, etc of the contents.


Once everything is ready, the pharmacist puts the pills in a bottle, puts the bottle in a bag, then staples medication information to the bag. She's also required to counsel you on your meds if it's the first time you've gotten them.


Adding to this, the pharmacist prints a sticker out from the computer with medicine info on it, and puts it in the prescription bottle. It will include Pharmacy info, your name, prescription number, hire many refills you have left, medicine and dosage, and directions for taking it from your doctor. Then any additional warnings and medicine info is printed on paper and put in the little paper bag with it (or sometimes staples to the bag).


Some are. I’ll take five different prescription medications. Two of them come in pre-packed bottles of 30 pills each. But the other three are counted into separate vials. One of the things that I know is that the manufacturers will often say that this drug should be prescribed in something like 30 mg, 60 mg, or 90 mg. And then instead of making tablets in each of those different strengths, the manufacturer will only make 30 mg tablets, and the patient will receive 30, 60, or 90 tablets for 30 day period and take 1, 2, or 3 a dose. One of the pills that I take is a sleep aid, and I used to take two pills at night, but I found I got better sleep taking one pill and combining it with OTC melatonin.


They are prepackaged in punch cards in some situations, like in nursing homes. But home consumers typically get theirs loose in a bottle placed in a white pharmacy bag. The pamphlets are stapled to the bag.


um... 2 min is possible it the prescription was called in ahead. I routinely get a notice from Walgreens that I have a prescription ready for pickup (they autorefill), which is just a wait-in-line-till-it's-your-turn + 1-2 minutes.


That shorter transaction time would be normal at most pharmacies in the US. Costco likely does it this way to get people shopping. If they are giving a large pharmacy discount, they expect to make up the difference in profits on their other goods so they need you to wander around for a couple hours and buy things


Really? 2 minutes to fill a prescription? The minimum I've ever seen is maybe 10-15, and typically they say 20-30 min though it may be 45. Because of thsoni typically drop off a prescription and come back to pick up the meds.


If your script is sent ahead and you go a couple hours later it’s usually already filled. Which is typical for around here


Ya, that's not what he was talking about. He was talking about walking in a paper script that they have no prior knowledge of


I highly doubt that. It’s not like they have some magical way to fill pill bottles that we don’t use here. I just reread the comment. Op says they just show their id. Meaning the pharmacy already has the prescription


No, I meant the guy walking into Costco with the 1 hour wait.


Yea but I was talking to the guy with 2 minute waits saying that is also a typical experience for many in the US. Edit: not directly I guess but that was the point of my comment


Costco doesn't make much if an money on its products (they're sold almost at cost). Their profit comes from the membership. I believe the pharmacy is not exclusive to members, though, so maybe it's to give people a view into what they're missing.


The sheer number of prescriptions most pharmacies receive would be a big factor. The one I go to ALWAYS has a line of 4+ people and people going through the drive thru. It was the busiest job I've ever had. There was never a break in customers.


Is there difference between major cities and rural areas? I'd love to have a drive thru pharmacy tho. I've only seen one in the whole country.


Every Walgreens and CVS I've ever seen has a drive thru.


There probably is a difference. We lived rurally when I was little but we drove into the big town and I don't remember the pharmacy experience. Back when I was little, there were many more mom and pop type places- they typically can't keep up with the chains now. (We have pharmacies that do compounding for supplements and such but they have limited hours..) Most major retailers here will only move into an area they know can support the store. (Including infrastructure such as water and sewer.) That would be a good question for people who live way out there.


I live in a somewhat rural area and the local pharmacy usually has no cars at the drive-through. Quick and easy.


Based on one person’s description of waiting at one store’s pharmacy you have made a blanket statement about a whole country’s pharmacies. That’s wild.


You must be new here.


Sure, let's go with that. LOL.


I am sorry if that somehow offended you, I was just genuinely curious about that. It is not a one person statement, I've seen multiple tiktoks where people were people told it takes around 15 minutes. Not a great source of info I admit, but isn't this subreddit for asking questions?


I am highly amused, not offended. It's crazy how people with severe bias jump to conclusions. I wouldn't think to judge a whole country of 330,000,000 based on the comments by a couple people, that's hilarious.


Well, bias is hardly avoidable in those cases. Now I can see why it takes longer than here and the reasons are understandable. I learned something new, you are not offended so I'd call that a good discussion.


It also only takes longer if you bring the scrip in yourself. Just this week I got a new prescription for blood pressure meds, my doctor sent it to the pharmacy directly, then I got a text message from the pharmacy telling me it was ready about a half hour later. I just walked in and picked it up, didn't have to pay for anything either.


This is how it works for me 99% of the time. The only time it didn't work like this was when refrigerated liquid antibiotics needed to be pre-mixed for my baby daughter.


Is that not the point of this sub though?


> In here, you just walk in, give them your ID and they give you your meds right away. Takes like 2 minutes. This is actual insanity for an American, which I am, and my brain is currently short circuiting. It's a minimum of... maybe an hour if the doctor puts the script in ASAP. Going in with a *paper* prescription? I legit don't know if that's even possible in 2021. Honestly. I mean, it *must* be possible. But it's just not done.


Many states have paper prescriptions specifically for opioids. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they have a watermark.


I meaaaan, I remeber handwritten prescriptions on pre-printed form back in 90s but now your govt issued ID works also as your insurance so that is all you need when going to the pharmacy/doctor so no paper stuff. Also, insurance is handled "behind your back" by the pharmacy so you do not have to do any paperwork at all.


None of that exists in the US. Your doctor might call/fax/send your prescription in ahead, in which case the time from getting to the counter (after standing in line) to leaving MIGHT be 2-3 minutes. I think most people assume you mean walking in with a prescription that the pharmacy has no previous notice of. That's what the Costco 1-2 hours was referring to.


Insurance is the reason it takes so long


You can't call in your prescription at Costco? My pharmacy is at a grocery store and I always just call ahead to have them filled before I get there.


I have to deliver prescriptions to the pharmacy by paper, so unless I want to make two separate runs to Costco on consecutive days, it's easier just to wait for the prescription to be filled.


Generally it's also not the cheapest prices for what you get, but it's better quality in most places. They don't generally sell bulk junk


And they’re extremely good with returns. If there’s a problem they almost always give you a full refund, even if you’re well outside the official refund window - rather than telling you to take it to the manufacturer for warranty service. They also pay their workers much better than Sam’s (the other large warehouse chain, which is owned by Walmart), and so the employees don’t seem like they’re one bad meth day away from ordering everyone.


You don't even need to leave the continent. Spain, France, and the UK all have Costcos. It is a membership club, warehouse style store. Most items stay in their bulk casings, purchases are in bulk, quantities are large. It is generally geared to families and small business owners. Dry goods, paper products, household goods, some dairy, produce, and meat. Lots of frozen goods. It is tough to make it a one stop shop but you can save time, money, and sometimes both shopping there. There's a food court as well but strange enough non-US Costcos have a much better food menu than US Costcos. The two big staples are cheese pizza and the $1.50 hot dog + drink. Other items may include some type of ice cream or churros. I know poutine is available in some Canadian Costcos. The food is good for a quick snack, it isn't exactly amazing but it is cheap. Costco makes most of its money with membership fees. In the US $65 is the annual charge for the basic membership. Gas is also almost always cheaper at Costco than elsewhere.


As an American living in a foreign country, checking out the local Costco in South Korea made me feel like a kid in a candy store. It still had some of my favorite Kirkland products but items in bulk Korea style (of course). I'd just drive down for the food court if it wasn't too far away. Bulgogi bakes, and bulgogi pizza! Unfortunately, gas is not available here and I'm renewing my membership before coming back to the US since it's $35 for my membership versus the $65. I was surprised to see Costco cakes, and baked goods section was popular in Korea. I didn't think it would do well since there are so many local bakeries just everywhere. They're still just as good though!


I think part of the draw of Costco in Asian countries is the brand itself. People in China and Korea have memories of either going there when visiting relatives in the US, or relatives bringing stuff back from there.


I agree, it's a brand thing. I prefer to shop at the Korean Costco (Emart Traders) since it's cheaper, same product just Korean brands, and you don't even need a membership. Plus they have more coffee bean options!


Ya my mum always brings a ton of kirkland vitamins when she goes back to Taiwan


I miss the carne asada bakes that I've had in California Costcos.


Shit which California costcos had those ? Ive never run across them in San Diego.


I used to get them at the Lakewood Mall Costco


They discontinued them right after and I’m still upset. I think about them every day. They replaced it with this hot sandwich after that, which was still pretty good, but it’s not the same AND it got taken away during COVID.


And Costco gas is Top Tier, which means it has better additives than many places. And the pump hose can reach your gas inlet even if it is on the other side of the car.


>And the pump hose can reach your gas inlet even if it is on the other side of the car Except at the Costco in Danvers, MA. They said the local fire marshal hated the idea, so you can only pull up with your gas cap facing the pump.


Leave it up to MA to create more nanny laws.


This is not a law, just the local fire marshal exercising his authority, which totally happens in other places too.


I actually have a Costco membership almost exclusively for the gas savings lol. Especially when I used to drive a car that took premium, the savings were in the 30-40 cent per gallon range compared to nearby stations.


Citi Visa gives you 4% back on gas, 2% on Costco purchases. I don't quite get enough out of my Costco to do the Executive Membership as it excludes gas on their 2% cash back. But it is a decent, free reward card for gas.


An attendant at the Costco near my parents house told me that the gasoline was just 87/89/91 off the Shell rack. Could be different in other states though.


Shell gas is Top Tier too.


I really like Costco. I go twice a month. I get coffee, Truvia, chicken, ground beef, steak, bagels, milk, frozen pizza, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, green yogurt, eggs, bacon, soda, water and snacks, spaghetti sauce canned goods like diced tomatoes and tomato sauce I have a family of 3 and most paper products and detergent last months. The meat and coffee I go through in a month. I usually go every other week for eggs, bacon, milk and whatever else I need. I do about 80% of my grocery shopping there and then a grocery store for produce (since the bulk packages go so quickly) and odds and ends.


There are a ton of Youtube videos with people wandering around Costco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gW6SkCsA8g I never go because I'm a single person and there's just no reason for me to have 60 cans of beans laying around.


>I never go because I'm a single person and there's just no reason for me to have 60 cans of beans laying around. When I was single (30 years ago) I had a Costco card because the price of milk alone was so much less than the grocery store that it paid for the membership in savings each year. After that, I'd pick up books, clothes, occasionally electronics, lots of gifts, some baked goods, and loaded up for parties (beer, snacks, etc.). I didn't need beans or 140 rolls of TP, but there were plenty of things a single person (at least this single person) could use to more than justify the membership.


I have a car so if I was a single person I'd still get it for the gas savings and the $5 rotisserie chickens.


The loss leader!


Speak for yourself, mark my words bean powered cars are the future of travel


They are called the magical fruit for a reason ;-)


Also [this one](https://youtu.be/OyNh8BNEXrs?t=5).


Costco is too much for me as a single person as well. I will have my mom take me every few years to stock up on paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. Its been three years since my last trip and I am finally getting to the last roll of paper towels. I had to buy toilet paper at Target. She needs to come visit me.


What about 1 can with 60 cans worth of beans in it? :-) I'm single, and yeah, I'd never make the membership fee back in savings.


I get my membership fee back in gasoline saving alone. A friend gets his membership fees back on the savings on dog food alone.


We make ours back on eyeglasses.


There are Costco's in the UK, France, and Spain, if you don't want to take a long flight. They post pictures from them frequently on r/Costco


I haven't been to a Costco in a little over a year, but I'm going back to Alaska soon and will be renewing my membership because Alaska runs on Costco. The the cost of shipping things to Alaska means that the sheer quantity of items they move gives them an edge over a lot of other retailers (and they have the cheapest gas). Anchorage, which is a small-ish city by US standards, has TWO Costcos and pretty much everyone within a 100 miles distance (i.e. most of Alaska's population) makes a monthly Costco run. Costco is even the principal supplier of local grocery chain Three Bears. The craziest Costco I've ever been to is in Salt Lake City, it's the biggest in the entire company. It's so big they have complimentary parkas for shopping in the refrigerated sections.


> Alaska runs on Costco Yep. I have relatives there who have to go overnight to do a Costco run, so it's maybe once every 6-8 weeks. They take a trailer and get stuff for a bunch of neighbors as well.


I have friends that can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they learned Fairbanks was getting a Costco.


Same thing with Hawaii. Made living on the Big Island tons more affordable. Another thing- Costco customizes the products they sell for that particular market-- so in Hawaii you'll see lots of paddleboards, inflatable boats and Hawaiian print clothing. I imagine it's the same for a place like Alaska.


Yeah, a lot of people don't realize that the selection of Costco is very regionalized. It's all based on where they are and what they can get. Good for some local producers, my old coworker's family owns a blueberry farm in Oregon and their biggest customer is Costco NW division.


Walmart does this too. They have pallets worth of Sailor Boy Pilot Bread at my local. Which makes sense, since we as a state buy 94% plus of the companies product (the bulk of the rest going to Japan, IIRC.


Oddly enough, The Walmart in my hometown (Farthest North Walmart) is some sort of tourist mecca for Asian tourists. I worked as an Aurora Guide, and it's like a 9 out of 10 chance any foreign language tourist is going to want to go there, it's bizarre.


I typically buy toiletries and cleaning products. Bulk buying those saves me a lot of money. I used to go quarterly when I lived in an area where I had one. I only have Sam's Club, now. Costco is going to be a bare-bones warehouse-type of store. Think of something along the lines of an IKEA but with the option of buying +100 hot dogs instead of shitty bed frames. Also, where are you from? Just curious.


The Netherlands. So kinda like IKEA, but more food orientated. Is Sam's Club better?


Costco has kind of everything. But yeah, food is a big part of it, specifically large bulk quantities of groceries. But they'll also have electronics, some weird generic clothes, appliances, furniture, etc etc. It's really hard to explain it. But stuff is usually pretty good quality in Costco. They also have tons of deals for a bunch of stuff like vacations, gym memberships, cruises. They can offer discounted versions of stuff like that. Costco is always hectic...my wife has a membership, but I've probably been 2 or 3 times in the last few years. I avoid it as much as possible. If I go, I go to buy contact lenses. To get an idea of what's going on there, check out the instagram Costcodeals where people post local deals they find. It's pretty chaotic in there, but the deals are legitimately pretty good.


Weirdly, you can also buy caskets, HVAC systems, diamond rings, and mattresses at Costco. Who doesn't love a trip to get a footlong hot dog and a casket?


If I keep getting the $1.50 hot dog and a soda deal I may need the casket sooner.


a noble end


You can also get an eye exam and get the tires on your car changed while you shop for prime rib. What a wonderful place Costco is.


Their furniture is generally good quality. Plus the gas discount hasn't been mentioned, that's important to many of us.


Their gas discount basically pays my membership fee every year.


Their gas is always the cheapest in my area and the lines for it are long during the day. The gas station actually stays open later than the main store so I go at night.


Think Aldi, how all the items are in their boxes but are bought as single items (example: 1 can of vegetables can be bought out of a case of 24 but that case of 24 is on the shelf, open) but the boxes are sealed and only sold as full cases.


This is the most relevant difference. Most things are Costco are sold in large quantities. Honesyly the closest thing in the Netherlands is actually Sligro or Hanos, but imagine one much bigger aimed at more everyday people instead of restaurants, with more non-food products like clothes, books, electronics, household items etc.


Costco as a company is very highly rated for how they treat and compensate their employees. On the other hand, Sam’s Club belongs to Wal Mart, which cannot make a comparable claim. So that’s one way to compare.


IKEA is built as a maze -- Costco doesn't do that. It's also smaller, though still pretty huge for a store. It looks like a warehouse inside -- cement floors, pallets of goods, extra stock stacked on top of shelves, etc. Sam's Club is the Wal Mart version of Costco. In terms of products, no it's not better. In terms of how they treat their employees, it's much worse. Costco is actually a pretty great employer by US standards. But unless they've got a hard on for punishing Wal Mart, people will likely go with the one that's more conveniently located.


No. Sam's Club is owned by Walmart. It's better than Walmart. But... it resembles its sibling.


Diplomatic response


I don't know what you mean, but every Sam's Club I've been to looks far more like a Costco than a Walmart.


>every Sam's Club I've been to looks far more like a Costco than a Walmart. EXACTLY like a Costco in some markets-- in mine Sam's did a big remodel a few years ago and it's now like a mirror imagine of Costco. Except that Sams added a service meat/fish/sushi counter so you can get $25/lb steaks...which doesn't really seem to fit their market/brand. In any case I'd say the two stores are basically equal inside now. However, Sam's sells more inferior products and has a poorer selection. For example, the books in ours are almost entirely bibles and Christian romance novels. Their house brand-- Member's Mark --is nowhere near the quality of Kirkland for most items. But I'd say Sam's has a bigger produce selection and frankly a better bakery than Costco. Costco has better premium items, electronics, alcohol, furniture, and the like. I'd say the clothing there is generally better as well. Also: Costco is better to work for and the employees seem happier. We go to Costco 75% of the time but keep up Sam's since I have a business card from work. Sam's offers quick/simply curbside pickup of web orders, which is great for businesses.




I have memberships to both stores, and Costco is much “fancier” for me in terms of food. I can get a 10 lb case of Alaskan King crab, rib eye cap steaks, 5 lbs of sea scallops, etc. that I almost never see at Sams Club. Their whiskey and tequila is also better quality than their competitors and costs half the price.


Personally, my distinction between the two is that Costco is known for treating its employees very well for a retail chain and the Walton stores...aren't. That tips the balance for me.


The overall concept is pretty much the same. I don’t know if I’d say Sams Club is better or vice versa. Sam’s tends to appeal to the small business owner more though, as they’re not going to take business away from their parent company, Wal-Mart. “Sam” is for Sam Walton, who founded the big W.


Wholesale store set ups are actually usually very much geared to their local customer base. Even in Costcos or BJs of similar sizes might have moderately different selections depending on how a product performs in that area or that store. When you have to put in POs for multiple pallets at a time you tend to go with your strongest products. Stores that have a lot of small business customers, be it small resturants or food trucks will have a lot more of the basic items in large portions while a store that has more suburban customers will likely have premium items in their full case sizes instead of "pack size" that is sold in typical grocery stores. The bigger footprint stores can usually manage both markets.


There's a Costco in Paris


Unfortunately if OP lives in the Netherlands, and you can’t buy a Costco membership with a Dutch mailing address/bank card so the one in Paris doesn’t help. You have to find someone who lives in a country with Costcos who has a membership and can bring you with them.


At least in the US though, you don't need a membership to buy the in-store hot food, so maybe OP can still go eat his hot dog there. :)


True. From what I know, the one there is in a weird place to get to though, so I would lean towards it not being worth a dedicated trip just to probably get the hot food. It may be an option though for the truly curious!


You can go to the UK and see one and maybe get a membership. I’ve shopped at the London Wembley store a few when I was stationed in the UK. I think its also equivalent to Carrefour in a way


As someone who shops at both Sam's Club and Costco, I find their selection and pricing is somewhat different. I almost always buy certain items at one store over the other as a result, unless there's a sale. For example, I usually buy pasta and sauce, meatballs and sausage, bread and aged cheese at CostCo, and mayonnaise, carrots, salad, and lunchmeat at Sam's Club. A lot of places may have both, but not all, and there are other warehouse stores that have a regional presence in some areas, like BJ's. If I had to pick one, probably CostCo.




Eh, I never *want* to go to IKEA either. I treat it just like going to Costco: a well-planned get-in-and-get-out operation that minimizes time spent in store and contact with other humans.


I like going to IKEA for the free coffee. I never get out of there without two new mugs and a rug or something but that's fine.


Going to IKEA is an all day event for me. But the closest one is 2 hours away so that probably plays a roll.


To be brief, Sam’s Club is definitely not as good as Costco, thorough sometimes you’ll find something at the former you wouldn’t find at the latter.


“What do Europeans want to do when they go to America?” Go to CostCo I go to Costco once a month and buy things in large supplies, they have ALOT of fruit and veggies and the own by my house has a place where you can scoop candy out of a container then buy it. Might be a little hard to find one in a city because of how much space they take up. Much easier to find one in a suburban area


I mean, traditional European grocery stores are kind of sad. Imagine just 3-4 flavors of Aldi or IGA.


And like half the size


I just bought a bidet at Costco. (The kind you attach to an existing toilet.) I now feel so civilized.


Mine is an hour away so I go once a month. We go there because of how they treat their workers and customers. They have a maximum profit margin so prices are low and quality high. I bought my 10K engagement ring there. I buy high quality foods, meats, cleaning and paper products. I also LOVE them for high quality but incredibly discounted outdoor clothes and camping gear. We use them for car rentals which is awesome. We use their credit card and the customer service for it is amazing. We get about 1300 cash back. They send a check and we just go there and have them cash it. BEST place to get hearing aids, glasses, electronics. Best return policy. Bakery is incredible. It does NOT have the same selection. It's limited and varies (like January they get lots of furniture but not other times of the year). there is a story I read about costco (and it was about how they aren't good to their stockholders). So when they started importing their dress shirts - they went to a italian maker and ordered like 10,000 shirts. (I'm going to make up the numbers since i dont know exact). The maker charged them like 20 dollars a shirt and they add 15% profit. Customers loved them so they put in orders for like 200,000. The cost of the shirts came down to like 12 dollars of shirt -- so Costco reduced the price to 12+15% profit.


A related benefit, because of the profit margin system and the high quality of their own brand (Kirkland) there's very little bottom tier garbage at Costco, unlike most grocery stores, Walmart, and Target. Not zero of course, but almost anything you buy at Costco will be of at least decent quality. They also have the excellent return policy you mentioned, so they're further motivated to not carry low quality stuff. Coupled with a reduced selection, this just means you can grab whatever is close to what you want and almost certainly be fine. It's a time saver and stress reducer that I appreciate more and more over time. Like, recently I needed a new non stick pan, and there's so many options online I couldn't figure out what to get. So I ended up just grabbing a three pack at Costco, which was cheaper than online, and they've been great.


I don't mind the low selection. I sorta like it. I just want quality stuff. They have camping gear every year. If we need something I don't have to obsessively check reviews. I get it trusting that the buyers (who are notoriously fussy) did their homework -- and if I realize it's not good? I return it that year or the next. No receipt. No fuss.


Oh man, my family’s church is planning a camping trip in September and they started advertising it in May-June. They knew it was far too early to start planning, they just announced it early because the camping supplies were on sale at Costco and they wanted everyone to plan around that. Also, I’m sending your original comment to my boyfriend because if Costco isn’t part of our wedding I want none of it.


I think this might be one of the most important factors in why so many people love Costco. You can trust that anything you buy there is at least a pretty good version of whatever it is.


I'm more of a BJs guy and never been to Costco. But it's the same concept. I only go to buy some groceries in bulk. Very rarely though.


> I'm more of a BJs guy Aren't we all


I dunno about you, but I'm more of a ZJs kinda guy.


A number of people have described the bulk size and limited selection. My two person house stopped going because they only had a couple of our preferred items/brands. And having a 32 oz bottle of salsa was just impractical. But this type of store is very nice for party planning or if you have a big family.


Interestingly, my location is really quiet even when busy. People are just pleasantly shopping. No one on their phone or children screaming. You can start to smell the bakery about halfway to the back. Solid yums. The checkout is a blizzard of motion. Employees are happy and busy. Their in-house brand is highly researched and developed across the board. From organic products to vodka.


they're rare in large cities because they take so much floorspace (i live in nyc) so i rarely ever go to one. but they're just enormous wholesale places that sell large-amount units. whereas one might buy a 12-pack of toilet paper at the grocery store, you can buy a 100-pack or something at costco. [https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/costco-wholesale-corporation](https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/costco-wholesale-corporation)


There are 4 of them within 15 minutes of Downtown Sacramento.


In that picture you can see people handing out samples. There are a ton of samples given out in the store. When I was little I would beg to go with my mom just for the samples.


Some of them are *nice* too. I’ve had my fair share of fancy cheeses there.


Yeah, last time I was there it was three goat cheese varieties. So good.


Was this post-COVID? I’ve only seen them offered once recently and it wasn’t great so I didn’t grab any.


Actually it was pre-covid, but it was so good I still remember it like yesterday. Samplers are back in my store now, though.


Think of it like a giant Aldi with less hit-or-miss products and a variety of other goods like furniture, electronics and clothing. I haven't had a Costco membership for a while just due to the fact that I don't need any bulk merchandise, but my family made prodigious use of our Sam's Club (similar to Costco, but not as good) membership when I was a kid. Bought everything from cereal, to condiments, to frozen goods.


It's like going to Disney World. You have a ton of fun and your wallet is a few hundred dollars lighter.


My Mom freaking loves Costco! She owns a small business & is always buying stuff there. I personally find it overwhelming & can never use everything I buy there, as it's just me & my husband. Some things are a really good deal, like big boxes of non-perishable items. If you have a big family, then Costco absolutely makes sense to shop at. Otherwise, not everything is cheaper there.


Ever want to purchase 5 items and have the cost be almost $100? But really I love costco. I get toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, canned veggies, crackers, soy sauce... pretty much things that won't go bad that you use a lot of. I also get their rotisserie chicken and chicken salad. It's delicious. ETA: forgot to add that now I have a baby they have the cheapest diapers in my favorite brand, and baby wipes!


>Ever want to purchase 5 items and have the cost be almost $100? But you have like a year supply of all 5 items


Its like if someone took a big storage warehouse, set up some cash register and opened for business. Obviously different things are in different sections and there are loosly defined aisles, but mostly its just one giant room filled with stuff, and your never sure what you might find while traversing the store that you end up walking out with. For example, last time my family was at Costco, we left with a surprisingly great apple pie, a big circular grogu plush and super comfy pillow that clearing wasn't designed for sleeping on, but is too big to be a throw pillow, none of which we knew we were getting when we walked in. The lines for the checkout can be really long sometimes though.


If you like eating 50 cans of the same two or three soups, it's heaven. Do you have Aldi where you are? It's like Aldi prices, but only because you're buying ten of everything. So you spend a lot more and get way less to choose from. They do have some very nice fresh food options, though. I like the chicken pot pies and rotisserie chicken. And good clothes from time to time. The "experience" is loud, crowded, and exhausting. That's what you're missing.


It’s basically a slightly better Sam’s Club.


It's a "buy things in bulk" grocery + store. The pizza and hot-dog are sub-par, but cheap and this should not be a highlight of your visit as you will be disappointed. We buy milk, eggs, soda, toilet paper, paper towels, fruit, frozen goods etc.


I like the pizza 🤷‍♂️


The hot dogs are actually pretty decent compared to what you normally find in grocery stores, IMO.


I miss the Polish sausage, though


You take that back, the pizza is fantastic if you're looking for northeast style pizza in the Midwest.


> the pizza is fantastic if you're looking for northeast style pizza in the Midwest. this is the most depressing thing I have read all day.


Why is it depressing? If the person looks forward to it and gets enjoyment out of their pizza then why try and make them feel bad about it?


Well, it's not literally depressing, the comment was made in jest. But Costco pizza is bad and is no way representative of "northeast style" pizza.


My bad! I sometimes misunderstand humor online and come off more serious than I should. Thanks for your clarification. And fwiw - Detroit style > Chicago style > Sbarro/NYC style! ;) Though a co-worker says something called Cleveland style (being serious, not steamer) is the best. Never heard of it.


Sparrows style is not NY style. It too is a garbage chain that makes garbage pizza. The problem with NY style pizza is most places out of NY/CT/eastern PA have no idea what they are doing. Greasy floppy pizza with super sweet tomato sauce is NOT NY style pizza.


It was a joke from The Office when Michael Scott goes to NYC and goes to Sbarro thinking it’s authentic NYC pizza. Been lucky enough to travel all over the country and try different pizza’s. Honestly as long as it’s not thick bready dough with lackluster ingredients I’m not going to complain.


I'm craving the pizza right now. It is underrated vs the hot dogs, which are still good.


Or the chicken bakes, but those also cost more than $1.50.


Did you just say the pizza is subpar? What the fuck? Are you insane?


I ducking love the pizza for a grocery store at least. I mean I’m from California, so sue me I guess


Not insane, just have actual pizza places readily available


It's basically a warehouse full of food and other home goods. A regular store will have, say, individual cans of food or whatever to buy. But you can go to Costco and buy it in bulk, which sometimes ends up being cheaper than buying each item individually. Personally, I don't notice a quality difference, and I'm single with no kids so I have no reason to buy anything in bulk. So I never go to Costco. But, I know people who swear by it, so to each their own.


A lot of what Costco sells is made by name brand manufacturers and relabeled with Costco. They buy stuff in such huge quantities that it's lucrative for the producers even if their brand isn't on it.


Big store with everything in bulk and they have a little snack stand in mine that sells drunks and hotdogs and pizza. I like costco


I personally love Costco. They sell in bulk and are generally cheaper than grocery stores. I live with my dad, so we tend to buy toiletries from there since it’s just the two of us. One pack of toilet paper is big enough to last almost an entire year. I also buy cold brew coffee and energy drinks for myself from there, since it works out to roughly $1.50 per can, versus the $2-3 I’d have to pay anywhere else.


I just bought a $2,000 85 inch TV that went up in price the following week to $3,000 because of the chip shortage. Also bought the sound bar and a high end blender. I usually also buy whole roasted chickens for me and my dog. It is also the only place where I buy havarti cheese. Best place to get it. Hot dogs are good and so is the soft ice cream. Periodically I buy bulk deodorant because I sweat like a yak in the hot summer weather. I've bought books, t-shirt, shorts, pants, flip-flops and milk. You can get almost anything there and everything they sell is good quality. I love it.


Costco is a magical place that every person should experience at least once, though ideally on a biweekly basic for bulk goods and a sweet hot dog deal.


I'm not sure what to liken it to in Europe. I first thought IKEA, but that really only works on the scale of the store, and maybe breadth of products. It's great if you're willing or need to buy food in bulk. Every time we pass by something and say, "oh, I don't need three of those", we end up coming back for it because the deal is too good vs. just buying one elsewhere. Also there are deals to be had on things like electronics, tires, eyeglasses...tho we have not tried those out yet. Overall, what may be most impressive is the quality. I'm not getting a deal because I'm buying some off-brand product. And yeah, after all that shopping, it's pretty tough to beat $1.50 for a hot dog and a drink. Also, they have there own gas stations just for members that are consistently ~5% cheaper than anywhere else locally.


The eyeglasses at Costco are awesome. Family of four and each of us wears glasses. Always buying glasses every year. So much cheaper than buying anywhere else. Savings alone easily pays the cost of the annual membership.


It's a massive warehouse. Bare concrete floors, corrugated steel walls. Ceiling is 10m high. On the left and right are tall stacked metal shelves, just about 8m high, full of just pallets of products, usually with the shrink wrap still on them. This is an active warehouse environment. On human-accessible shelves (say, 2-2.5m high) are products. Inside, you'll find shelves stacked with all manor of large durable goods (electronics, vacuum cleaners, fridges, washing machines, etc) on one side, then food along the back (full butcher), mammoth walk-in cooler (produce), lots of large stand and chest coolers and freezers, and a full bakery. Then, you'll find dry goods (dog food, cat litter, paper towels, etc) then a couple rows of stand-up freezers/fridges (packaged frozen foods like frozen pizzas, etc), then dry packaged (cereal, peanut butter, etc), and usually a couple rows of medicine and supplements. Finally, at the front, there's the cash tills, and behind that a little cafe. The quantity you buy is immense. Say I want to buy light bulbs - I'm buying 4-10 at minimum. I want chicken - 2-4 whole chickens, or a huge 5kg package. Steak - I'm getting a full primal or two. Sausage - 2kg package, minimum. Bell peppers - 5-10 package. Multiple heads of lettuce. 12-96 rolls of toilet paper. Gigantic 25+kg bag of dog food. #10 tin of tomato sauce, or 12 #1s shrink-wrapped together. 1200 aspirin. Etc etc etc. Soft goods in the center of the store are just laid out on a table - boot sale/garage sale style. Random stuff, too - you never know what you'll find. Could be pillows and the bible one week, Hunger Games DVDs and t-shirts the next. If you have a big family, or the room to store it all, the prices are way, way lower than what you'd find in a normal grocery or durable goods store. While a whole chicken would probably run you, say, $7 at a grocery store, the 4 you just bought from Costco were $20. It's a 'membership club', but it's usually all of $50-$60 for a year. The cost savings tend to be high enough that you can make it work, and work well - again, provided you can store it all. Finally, there's the cafe - the big 'draw' of which is a surprisingly large and good tasting hot dog, fully dressed however you want it, and a bucket of fountain soda for $1.50.


If it makes you feel better, I'm an American and have never lived in a city that has a Costco. I've never seen one or shopped at one.


It looks like other people have given you info on the basics of how Costco works, and about what all you can buy. I will basically tell you that as a kid, I loved going to Costco with my dad because I would abandon the safety of the long orange cart and make a meal of the free sample food. There were enough free sample stations in that store that I didn't even have to double-back. The people that worked the sample stations were nice, and gave me the food even though they new that a 10 year old wasn't going to be purchasing anything. Then I would get back on that orange cart and pretend I was Judah Ben Hur in the "Ramming Speed!" scene as my dad continued to buy paper towels. Good times. By the way, I think it is super neat that you are fascinated by Costco. Personally, I want to visit Belgium some day and just look at buildings.


Well if you're from a tiny European country it's quite possible an American costco will be larger than your country.


It's like if Wal-Mart took a bath, lol.


It might be a bit overwhelming, it's rather cavernous. Costco covers a lot of items that would be found in a general goods store, with a limited selection of each. There may be two, at most three variations of a single type of item, but it will be a larger quantity of that item than is normally available. Need some light bulbs? You can get enough to redo most of your house in one or two packages. Socks? They come in packs of 12. Peanut Butter (I know some other countries don't understand our love of it and a repulsed by the smell) you can get a two pack of jars, that are double the size normally found in stores. The bakery and kitchen in the back of the store is constantly pumping out goods from open to close. People wait to snap up the rotisserie chicken as soon as it comes off the spit. Packages of muffins larger than your fist, are wrapped in cellophane, poppy, chocolate, apple. 24 to a lot. Pie's and cakes bigger than a dinner plate. AA, AAA, C and D batteries in packs of 24 to 48 to power your electronics (a godsend in the days of having a Game Boy) lay in stacks. Solar Power packs to recharge electronic devices, grills for you back yard, and candy jars for your office or home to satisfy your sweet tooth. They have a rather large alcohol and liquor selection. Costco is the land of bulk. Don't go in expecting to buy a single item for a single use. Well, other than a hot dog or pizza. Everything else is either a multi use item or multi consumption item. ​ As for how often I go? Where I live, it's over an hours drive from me. So, I go every month or so. When I lived closer to one? Every week, or every other week. ​ Hope this gives you an idea about what the interior is like and it's purpose.


If it's something you want to do, I highly recommend you try it. I can imagine that it would be fascinating to go for the first time. As I was writing this post, it made me realize how much the experience of going to Costco is similar to going to an amusement park... only to buy things and not ride rides. :) There are plenty of people talking about their experiences, but I want to represent the group of people who NEVER go to Costco. I haven't been to one in almost ten years, even though I've always lived 10-20 minutes away from one (or a very similar store). They provide great value and treat their employees well, but going there is *such a hassle.* Also, unless you live in a big house or have plenty of storage... it's difficult to even keep the stuff in your house. Getting there is always a nightmare. The parking lot is gigantic... almost like an amusement park's... and it's very busy. It often feels like you're walking a quarter-mile just to get into the store. The store itself... massive. It's like visiting an airplane hangar or football stadium. It's filled with so many people and it's so big. Unless you know the store backwards and forwards, you're going to spend a lot of time wandering around. Everyone has so much stuff piled into their carts that everyone moves VERY slowly. It's like pushing a giant weight through an obstacle course. There are lines everywhere. It can take a lot of time to check out. And then you often have to wait in another line to get out. If you want some of their wonderfully cheap gas, it's another massive line, which often blocks up the entrances and exits. The entire experience will cost typically 90 minutes each time. You can see why people only go a few times and then buy infinite stuff (which, of course, is one of the reasons everything IS slow). If you're like me and try to eat fresh foods and have limited storage for your living supplies, it's just not worth it.


I remember we used to joke about how if we wanted to survive a zombie apocalypse we’d just go to Costco, because you have food, a place to sleep, and the zombies can’t get in without a membership.


I hate it, and think it’s overwhelming/suffocating and wasteful. I have been 2-3 times. Some people get really into it, but it’s not a universal thing! I find Walmart less painful to shop at (and Walmart is pretty painful)




Bingo. * Massively overcrowded. * Not enough parking, your gonna circle for a while just to find the last spot at the end of the row. * Lines to get in the place because you have to show your membership card * Lines to get out of the place, because you have to show your receipt & be inspected like a thief * No bags for your purchases * Wherever you want to go, someone or their cart is in your way. * If they aren't in your way, they will be by the time you get there. * When you leave, you'll have trouble getting out of your parking spot, because of all the people trying to park. * Trying to drive out of the parking lot is made harder, by all the cars lining up through the lot to get gas at the Costco gas station. None of them want to let you pass, for fear you'll try to cut the line. It is absolute hell. Last time my wife dragged me there I hunkered down on a chair swing display listening to my audio book while she over bought bulk crap. The entire time other husbands walking by looked at my with seething jealousy, one even asking his wife if he could join me. It is a place to be avoided at all costs. And OH GOD, it gets worse when they are doing free sample day... IDK how, but it gets worse! Your dream is bad & you should feel bad. It is a place of anger, despair & suffering.


I don't have a Costco membership but snuck in once just to look around. Your description of it is accurate. I hated the place.


I think highly dependent on location, time of day, and day of week. The one I go to is not overcrowded, has plenty of parking (you'll still have a bit of a walk to get to the door), no line to get in, no line to get out, etc. It may depend on when you go -- weekends are not ideal. I usually go on the way home from work when I get off early, so 3-4 PM during the week.


It's WAY easier to just avoid the place entirely. I've never had a need for a five gallon bucket of Nutella or a pallet of toilet paper. I don't go in for bulk buying or having to pay for the right to shop somewhere. I'm WAY happier to buy things in reasonable sizes when needed & without the headaches of going to Costco.


I also hate that a lot of the food products have 2-3 flavors and there is always one flavor that sucks.


I have never been.




Comments should be serious or useful


It's sort of like a big warehouse full of food. Like a grocery store except with everything scaled way up. They also have departments like electronics, auto service/gas station, and optometrist, pharmacy and random household goods and clothes. Plus the little food court thing of course. The general idea is buying in bulk, so they usually have large packages of things rather than individual items, but that's not a hard and fast rule. As far as what I typically buy... pretty much whatever I'd buy at the grocery store, just... more? It's particularly good for nonperishables or things that freeze well, due to the quantities involved. I wouldn't buy for example sour cream there, because I can't use a gallon tub of sour cream up before it goes bad unless I needed it for something specific.