I came, I saw, I Costco’d

By 22 July, 2011 114

wall of toilet paper

I went to Costco’s opening day because of the lure of free eggs. I figured we’d paid our $60 joining fee so we might as well get a freebie and I was hoping that 8am on Friday would be more manageable then the expected craziness over the weekend. It was great- I was in and out in under an hour and I spent less then $150. I was strong and didn’t buy kilos of Reeces Pieces or anything else we wouldn’t use/didn’t need. I didn’t look at the electrical or homewears or booze etc because by the time we had done the food the bub was ready to go.

I was genuinely surprised at some of the prices. It is cheap. Sometimes seriously cheap. I can’t see how we could do a weekly shop there and get everything we need but for non-perishables and frozen food etc, this will be where I go. One thing that didn’t see much value in was the fresh fruit and veg- I think the Farmers Markets are still unbeatable for that. I didn’t spend much time in the meat and fish area because that’s where my son had a dummy spit but I was impressed at the quality and variety.

Armed with my camera phone I clicked away at the prices so that I could nerd it up and write them down for anyone who is curious. This is just a tiny fraction of what is there- I concentrated on the stuff we eat and use but it gives you a good idea.
!! indicates my perceived bargain finds.

Home stuff
4 pack of Colgate Total toothpaste $9.79 ($2.44 each) !!!
Rexona or Dove deodorant $18.59 for 6 ($3.09 each) !!
48 rolls of Sorbant TP $22.48
Pack of 4 colgate toothbrushes $13.99 ($3.49)
Pack of 3 Olay Total Effects Moisturizer $65.89 ($21.96)
Mega box of Huggies nappies 148 (Toddler size) $57.99
704 Kirklands babywipes $21.99
720 Huggies wipes $31.79

Frozen
6 lunch sized bowls of wonton soup $13.89
Blueberries $6.29kg (!!!!)
6 Salmon Steaks (1.2kg) $17.99 (!!!)

Fridge
Big quiches $8.99
Sliced cheese tray 900grams $10.29 !!
Chicken breasts $8.49kg !!
Diced Beef $9.99kg !!
500grams sliced ham $5.99
18 eggs $2.89 (didn’t realise they were caged eggs until we got home because they were giving them away for free)
1kg bucket of bocconcinni $12.99 (!!!!)
2kg bucket of feta $15.69
1kg Philly cooking cream $7.39
Yoplait 12 pack $5.49 (!!!!)
2kg Greek yoghurt $5.49
1kg Jalna yoghurt $4.19 !!

Pantry
800ml jar of Korma sauce $7.89
3 tins of beans $2.99
1.3kg peanut butter $5.69 !!
2x Abbots bakery loaves of bread $6.59 ($3.29)
3x corn thins $9.49 ($3.16 pack)
1kg Tahini $8.79
1L Maple Syrup $15.89 !!
2.2kg canned tomatos $2.69
1.8kg Quinoa $10.99 (!!!)
10kg rice $29.99
1L Mayo $8.99
Huge jar of pickles $4.69
860g Seeded mustard $8.39
4 bottles of Fountain tomato sauce $7.49 ($1.80each)
Big bottle of Tabasco $5.99 !!
3 jars of pesto $10.49 ($3.49)
1.5kg Reeces pieces $14.99
1kg coffee beans $20

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114 Responses to I came, I saw, I Costco’d
#1
Holden Caulfield2:24 pm, 22 Jul 11

48 rolls of bog roll. Yikes, I’d be seeing a doctor about that, haha!

#2
ConanOfCooma2:25 pm, 22 Jul 11
#3
Spoono2:26 pm, 22 Jul 11

Hey thanks for the informative post. 1kg of bocconcinni! crazy

#4
winter2:28 pm, 22 Jul 11

nom nom nom

#5
candelabra2:30 pm, 22 Jul 11

Thank you for reporting back, I think I am going to visit later when the hype has settled down more out of curiosity than bulk buys. I am interested to know what the non food items carried are. Great for large families but not for us :)

#6
jessieduck2:45 pm, 22 Jul 11

I was glad to find that a small family could find value at Costco with normal, good quality food. I was a bit worried it was going to be all about huge bags of chips and high calorie food but there is something in there for everyone.

1.8 kg of Quinoa for $11?? Amazing.

#7
threepaws3:06 pm, 22 Jul 11

Thanks for taking the time to report jessieduck, appreciated.

Out of curiosity – what brand is the peanut butter (husband is fussy)? And the maple syrup that you mention, is it the real stuff or maple flavoured syrup? Do the chicken and beef look like they are good quality?

I’m a total sucker for a (quality) bargain, and really appreciate the discounted places like Aldi as I think some groceries are WAY overpriced. I also hate fighting crowds at stores and have a tendency to blow the budget on ‘bargains’, so a visit to Costco will be a carefully considered outing :)

Thanks again!

#8
Dacquiri3:08 pm, 22 Jul 11

Sorry, but CostCo pushes all the wrong buttons for me. With heaps of imported products and requiring a drive to Majura Park, it’s the antithesis of trying to reduce ‘food miles’ (issues which have also been raised in relation to CostCo in Melbourne). Buying in bulk (multi-buys or large sizes) reduces the practicalities of public transport (if there is any from here to there) so everyone has to drive (altho I suppose you could get together with a friend and take 1 vehicle). The direct financial savings are probably good (although not always as good as you think, esp. for fresh food), but at the cost of your time and your carbon footprint.

#9
betto3:08 pm, 22 Jul 11

I also recorded some prices… please don’t take this as a record of my shopping habits haha, I was there doing research for a small business owner rather than shopping for a family, as well as just browsing at some random stuff, hence the focus on soft drinks etc! I thought it would be great to join for anyone with a family, anyone organising parties or events, sporting clubs, small businesses and groups bulk buying to run fundraisers etc. Was quite impressed (and wasn’t expecting to see so much good food, juices, cheeses etc, thought it would all be junk or weird American stuff made out of corn and HFCS. Lots of familiar brands too.).

500mL bottled water 35 pack $7.99
Slab 24 cherry Coke cans $19.79
V energy soda 24 cans $35.99
Coca cola 24 cans $13.99
2kg mayonnaise whole egg $8
Ayam brand sweet chili sauce 2L for $5.79
1kg crushed garlic $4.87
Frozen mozzerella sticks 1.2 kg $15.50
Mini Dagwood dogs 2kg $22.29
Bundaberg Ginger beer 12 pack $11.99
24 pack mixed 390mL coca cola bottled drinks $27.49
1kg calamari frozen $9.39
Birds eye potato gems 2kg $6.29
3TB external hard drive $169
Komachi knife set $35.99
Canon Ixus 220HS $279
LG l11 series HD computer monitor $349 (I think it was 27 inch, can’t quite remember?)
Toshiba touch screen all in one dx1210 PC $1599.99
3 pack Eco coffee mug $19 (those ceramic keep cup things for coffees)
Bulmers Pear Cider 12x 500mL $39.99
Be Natural Nut Delight museli bars 15 pack $17.99
Soignon Goats Cheese 300g log $9.69
1.3kg spinach and ricotta ready meal canneloni $8.99
300g smoked salmon $9.89

#10
jessieduck3:20 pm, 22 Jul 11

@Threepaws- It’s Skippy Peanut Butter, I think they had a few other brands including an organic one but the Skippy is the only price I snapped.
The maple syrup is real and I’ve had it in Canada so I can vouch that the Kirkland brand is nice.
The chicken is Steggles and comes in a vacuumed sealed pack, it’s good. And lastly, the beef looks fresh and lovely and we’ll be eating some of it tonight.

I am wary of overspending at Costco to “save money” so I treated today as a bit of a recon mission. I got what we needed but I didn’t go craycray.

#11
Sammy3:22 pm, 22 Jul 11

There’s nothing spectacular in most of those prices that couldn’t be had on special at Woolies or Coles. Both regularly have premium bog roll around the 50 cent per roll mark, and Huggies wipes are currently $12 per 240 at Woolies, which is only a little more than Costco.

If you’re adopting the mentality of buying in bulk, then just buy in bulk from your local Woolies/Coles when the things you use a lot of are on special.

My only hope is that this furthers competition and drives Woolies/Coles prices down even further.

#12
Sheridan3:33 pm, 22 Jul 11

Hi jessieduck,

Thanks for the post, the level of detail is appreciated.

Can you please comment on the length of time until the expiry date of foods?

I have seen items from Campbells Cash and Carry that seem like a bargain (again, bulkish purchases required) but the time left until the expiry date is not very long – maybe a month or two at a stretch, so the items are quite poor value unless you can consume them really quickly.

This also reminds me of the ‘battle’ that is going on at the moment with Woolworths and Coles, how you can purchase 2L of milk for $2.00 or whatever the deal is. I have heard that it can be cheaper to purchase 2L of milk and let some of it goes to waste, rather than to spend slightly more to purchase less milk and have no waste.

#13
Brooklynite3:56 pm, 22 Jul 11

Kirkland is Costco’s own private label; their maple syrup is real, but it’s not the greatest. Even I have to admit that the best maple syrup comes from our friends over the border in America Jnr; well my old border (that comment should read).

#14
Wharrgarbll4:04 pm, 22 Jul 11

I’ll point this out from Costco’s website:

On Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price.

In the US, this meant you could return anything, for any reason, at any time. Even if the thing were a barbecue you’d been using for the past decade and were no longer satisfied with its’ performance, or a mattress that wasn’t so comfortable anymore. Looks like the policy applies here in Australia too. Just remember to save the receipt.

#15
jessieduck4:14 pm, 22 Jul 11

@Sammy, I guess what I like is that you don’t have to wait for it to be on special at Costco.
@Sheridan- I’ve just had a quick look at what I got and it’s all in order- no stress on the using things by their use by dates. The Korma sauce has over a year, the bread and meat are fresh etc. It’s not cheap because it’s about to turn.

#16
The Frots4:22 pm, 22 Jul 11

Great post and effort JessieDuck – well done.

Sadly, of course, because of your excellent work, it appears that myself and Mrs. Frots are now headed to CostCo over the weekend.

I owe you……………………………!!!!

#17
matjones4:41 pm, 22 Jul 11

Great post! We also were there this morning at 7:45, and posted some pictures on our blog:

http://www.canberrafoodies.com/2011/07/21/costco-canberra-opening-day/

#18
Henry824:43 pm, 22 Jul 11

Wharrgarbll said :

I’ll point this out from Costco’s website:

On Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price..

90 days on electronics. Its written on the site too.

#19
vg5:02 pm, 22 Jul 11

Dacquiri said :

Sorry, but CostCo pushes all the wrong buttons for me. With heaps of imported products and requiring a drive to Majura Park, it’s the antithesis of trying to reduce ‘food miles’ (issues which have also been raised in relation to CostCo in Melbourne). Buying in bulk (multi-buys or large sizes) reduces the practicalities of public transport (if there is any from here to there) so everyone has to drive (altho I suppose you could get together with a friend and take 1 vehicle). The direct financial savings are probably good (although not always as good as you think, esp. for fresh food), but at the cost of your time and your carbon footprint.

Time and carbon footprint?

Worst p*ss and rant ever. Stay at home and leave it for the non-miserable of the planet

#20
BenMac5:19 pm, 22 Jul 11

Can you enter the store without membership? The website says membership is checked at the door. Cause I’d rather see the prices/items first before paying $60 for something I might not use.

#21
milkman6:55 pm, 22 Jul 11

I’m amazed people bitch and moan about “driving all the way out there”. FFS, it’s maybe 10 minutes from the city, certainly no more than half an hour from anywhere in Canberra.

#22
matjones6:59 pm, 22 Jul 11

BenMac said :

Can you enter the store without membership? The website says membership is checked at the door. Cause I’d rather see the prices/items first before paying $60 for something I might not use.

You have to show your card at the door. best bet is to hope a friend gets membership, and get them to take you as a guest.

#23
matjones7:00 pm, 22 Jul 11

Henry82 said :

Wharrgarbll said :

I’ll point this out from Costco’s website:

On Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price..

90 days on electronics. Its written on the site too.

Their return policy is great. In the US we have purchased laptops, and returned them a month or 2 later because we weren’t happy with it. No questions asked. It used to be a 6 month return policy a few years ago, but they reduced it to 3.

#24
fernandof7:54 pm, 22 Jul 11

Just dropping a line to say thanks for a very informative post.

#25
Jethro8:52 pm, 22 Jul 11

Woolworths is selling 24 packs of Kleenex for $9. Perhaps as a defensive manouever?

Nonetheless, most of those prices don’t actually seem that amazing. You might be saving $1-2 per unit, but have to buy 4 or more units up front. I have the feeling lots of people will end up spending more than they otherwise would.

#26
Ryoma8:54 pm, 22 Jul 11

I also visited CostCo this morning. I was a member almost 10 years go in Japan (God, I feel old), but in any case the set-up here was pretty similar to how it was back then.

The building is slightly bigger than Bunning’s in Fyshwick, and as for its range of stuff, the best way I can think of to describe it is is if all of the following retailers were under one roof:

- Bunnings/Kathmandu/Super Cheap Auto/Target (or Kmart or Big W)/Specsavers/either large supermarket chain.

As noted earlier, most of the brands are familiar, and I noticed a pattern with that. Where Australian firms are good enough to lead their categories, well, they seem to show up in CostCo in larger sizes, but without too much of a saving – perhaps because in those products, the compeption is already pretty fierce, and margins quite tight.

On the other hand, there are some products that were a fair bit cheaper from overseas. Some,like the maple syrup, seem good value. I agree with Jessieduck that I’d much rather support the Farmer’s Market for the fresh stuff, and support our farmers here while the supermarket duopoly tries to cut their knees out from under them.

Along those lines, other products, like the 2kgs of sun-dried tomato from the USA, don’t seem good value to me. Why on earth would I eat something that we can grow ourselves, and encourage all of those food miles into the bargain? I’m not anti-trade, and I appreciate the honest competition that CostCo will bring – which is why I joined. But I’m only going to buy things there that are either:

a) much better value (and by value I mean not only the financial side) than the same thing elsewhere
b) stuff that I can’t buy elsewhere

Something about the place must have worked, anyhow, because I spent more than I’d intended to…hahaaa :) . Mrs Ryoma had a good laugh at me when I got home….

#27
I-filed9:12 pm, 22 Jul 11

Dacquiri said :

Sorry, but CostCo pushes all the wrong buttons for me. With heaps of imported products and requiring a drive to Majura Park, it’s the antithesis of trying to reduce ‘food miles’ (issues which have also been raised in relation to CostCo in Melbourne). Buying in bulk (multi-buys or large sizes) reduces the practicalities of public transport (if there is any from here to there) so everyone has to drive (altho I suppose you could get together with a friend and take 1 vehicle). The direct financial savings are probably good (although not always as good as you think, esp. for fresh food), but at the cost of your time and your carbon footprint.

Wow D, you don’t drink coffee or tea, then, and consume only sugar extracted from locally-grown beets?There aren’t any toilet paper manufacturers within 100k of Canberra – what do you use? There’s no milk, butter or cheese for sale in Canberra that’s local – Canberra Milk is sourced from 300km away. So you manage without dairy foods, or do you or a friend have a cow? I’d love to know how you manage to make your food interesting and enjoyable …

#28
Dacquiri11:41 pm, 22 Jul 11

I really can’t believe you guys. It’s attitudes like that that explain why we’re up sh!t creek environmentally. So just because you can’t source everything locally or regionally and support local businesses, you say the hell with it? There’s more to life than savings a few cents (and I’m not sure how it works out if you’re driving from the wilds of Belconnen) and shopping in a warehouse. Encouraging these kinds of fringe outlets involving car travel and over-consumption seems completely contrary to other aspects of urban sustainability that are supposed to be on the agenda. This is not about extremes — either you buy everything local or you don’t — but it’s about doing what you can, when you can, and trying to get things structured so that meeting your daily needs inflicts the least damage overall.

#29
Tooks9:33 am, 23 Jul 11

Some of the specials listed are on par with what you might find at either Aldi or the duopoly (chicken breasts, squid, 24 packs of soft drink etc). Will probably go out for a look in a couple of months when the hype’s died down.

#30
screaming banshee11:25 am, 23 Jul 11

Brooklynite said :

Even I have to admit that the best maple syrup comes from our friends over the border in America Jnr;

You know maple syrup comes from Canada don’t you??

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