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Costco: Have a Go!

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by Dayna Chu (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on
Published February 23rd 2014
Update March 15th 2015
**Please note that you may no longer make purchases on a guest pass**

Don't let the membership fee put you off
Costco: Have a Go!

nutella, costco, cheap groceries, save at costco
You too, can get a bucket of Nutella (5kg) for $47
To get the best value out of a Costco membership, you need three things: a ​pantry, patience, and a penchant for packaged foods.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here: if you love having a new till opened when there are two or more customers in line, don't like bagging your own groceries, or prefer trying on your clothes before buying them, then Costco may not be for you. If, however, you don't mind concrete floors, unmarked aisles, crowds with massive meandering trolleys, and saving 20-80% on your products over the prices of your local supermarket, sign up today. Unpublished tip: Costco allows non-members to get a one-time free guest-pass from member services, Monday-Thursday only; you do not have to be with a current member, and you may make purchases.

costco meat
Lean Australian beef mince: $6.99/kg, Australian boneless lamb leg roast, $12.99/kg
Personally, savings on nappies and peanut butter alone paid for my $60 membership fee in one visit. Okay, I have twins and we go through a lot of nappies; add two more kids and we go through even more peanut butter. It may take you two visits. Don't let the membership fee put you off.

There's no doubt that larger families (I'll make an executive decision to qualify that: 3 or more children) are going to get more bang for their buck out of Costco than single folks or smaller families. The reason for this is two-fold: bulk buying, and exponential decrease in time and energy you have to chase the sales around at Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Big W, Kmart, Target, Good Guys, and Tiffany's, when you have a larger family. Yes, Tiffany's. Costco sells diamonds. You too, can save $10,000 buying your diamonds at Costco.

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Costco take-and-bake 14in Pizza: $12.99
Costco is a "membership warehouse club" that promises great savings because of their enormous buying power. "Your annual membership fees allow us to keep overhead costs down and pass the savings on to you" (more membership information). The $55 membership fee for businesses and $60 fee for everyone else is what helps make the products cheaper to consumers, because it becomes a club of international sellers and buyers, who in many cases can sell without paying huge taxes for setting up overseas. This means that Costco will sell Australian products overseas (as well as in Australia) just like we can buy Canadian and American products here. Everyone wins, and the savings amount to more than $60 per year for most people, compared to shopping at the local supermarkets.

Save money, costco moorabbin, new costco, costco australia, save at costco, coles, woolworths, aldi, big W, cheap toys, spiderman, meme fox
Save big on books and toys at Costco
The Prices:
Another blogger compared some items and came up with the following (by the way, if you're googling to compare prices, stay away from the Canadian and American forums, as the prices vary greatly from those in Australia):
  • Pantene shampoo: $1.16 per 100 mL​ at Costco vs. $2.14 per 100 mL​
  • OMO detergent: $5 per kg at Costco vs. $7.33 per kg
  • Kleenex toilet paper:​ $0​.53 cents per roll at Costco vs. $0.​72 cents per roll
  • Finish dishwashing tablets: $6.80 per pack at Costco vs. $16.20 per pack
  • Napisan powder: $14.99 for 3kg at Costco v. $23.16 for the same amount at our supermarket.
Save money, costco moorabbin, new costco, costco australia, save at costco, coles, woolworths, aldi, big W, hungry caterpillar
Unique items sometimes limited
Some items that I regularly save on at Costco:
  • Berries
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Peanut butter (Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter: $0.59/100g)
  • Vitamins and supplements (Pentavite gummies: $0.16 ea)
  • Nappies and wipes (I buy Huggies; store brand comparisons save heaps as well): Huggies Walkers $56.99/132ct ($0.43 ea)
  • Soft drink (brand name and generic), $19.99/ 36 cans
  • Bakery items, croissants, cakes
  • Lunchables (muesli bars, chips, cheese and cracker snacks); Uncle Toby's Yogurt Topps: $12.99/36 ($1.15/100g) compared to $2.16/100g at Woolies; LeSnak cheese dips: $14.89/36 ($1.88/100g) compared to $2.88/100g at Woolies.
  • Maple syrup (50-75% cheaper at Costco)

Save money, costco moorabbin, new costco, costco australia, save at costco, coles, woolworths, aldi, big W
Others have told me that they go for savings on:

  • Pet food (Optimum for Adult Dogs, $0.36/100g)
  • Hearing aids
  • Prescription glasses
  • Jewelry
  • Appliances
  • Office supplies
  • Alcohol, especially higher-end wines
  • Tyres and tyre services

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
The Good:
Interesting American imports, unadvertised bargains (shoes, clothing etc), great range of cooked/prepared foods, a huge selection of quality meat and seafood at competitive prices, an exceptional hassle-free returns policy.

The Bad:
Very little in the way of in-store customer service, minimal brand selection, inconsistent product availability, bulk options only, and
some prices are not competitive with supermarket sales. When you add in the fuel docket savings, frequent flyer points, no requirement for $60 annual membership payment and no need to buy bulk, Costco may not equate to savings for you.

The Ugly:
Costco stores need a lot of space, therefore there may not be one close to where you live. This may even mean paying tolls to get there, some Costco stores charge for parking (Docklands in Melbourne charges $5 after your first 2 hours), and then there are the crowds. Unless you have the luxury of doing your shopping early on a weekday (not including Friday), you will be fighting crowds for parking, for getting a trolley, and for getting onto the lift with your trolley. Then, you'll be fighting crowds with massive trolleys, meandering around the unmarked aisles of the warehouse. Then you'll be lining up to pay, lining up for the cafe, lining up to get your docket checked on the way out ("We want to be sure we didn't miss packing items into your trolley," one attendant told me once; hm, sure), lining up for the lift on your way back down to the car park, and, oh yeah, lining up to get back out of the car park. The degree may vary depending on what location you frequent, but these complaints are almost universal with Costco shopping.

costco cafe, wrap, cheap food
Start or end your trip in the cafe with a $5 wrap, $2 frozen yogurt, or $2 hot dog
If you have a pantry and a freezer that you can store larger quantities of food in, enough patience for a few line-ups, and love the profit margin of savings on the packaged foods, give Costco a go and you won't be disappointed.

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Why? Huge savings on groceries and household goods
When: Monday to Friday: 10:00 am - 8:30 pm; Saturday: 9:30 am - 6:30 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Where: 5 locations Australia-wide, and growing
Cost: $60 for membership, redeemed quickly
Your Comment
I have lived in US, Canada and now in Australia. One of the things I like about Australia is the food here is so fresh... I cant compare the chicken or the vegetables to what we had in Canada.. Forget USA... 90% comes from China or Mexico. Just hope COSTCO maintains that and buys it from the local produce. Australia is the best example of a country which encourages local supplies and at the same time maintains international balance! No where can you find such variety of Organic produce then in Australia.
by eisen (score: 1|11) 3377 days ago
Great read- Even though we are only two, we still find it worth the value to have a membership at Costco- here in Canada, for their Vegetable Trays alone we save 50% by buying them at Costco :)
by lostb (score: 0|5) 3380 days ago
lining up hassles in or out of store don't happen in Canberra, free parking as wel! Love Costco
by joan. (score: 0|4) 3378 days ago
I called to organize a non-members one-time free guest-pass from member services as I live an hours drive away and was told that no such thing even existed. This was from the Cross Roads Costco store.
by olivi (score: 0|4) 3359 days ago
I am sad to see this article to promote Costco. I don't think you know that everything they sell there is not for human consumption, neither is for animals. Food alone is killing the American people and the rest of the world with GMO's and CAFO raised animals feed with GMO's, antibiotics and hormones. Love your page but unfortunately needed to comment, so people is aware of what is going on and make better choices if they want to be healthy.
by beatr (score: 0|4) 3379 days ago
You have to know your prices - fresh fruit and veggies are very expensive compared to other supermarkets and green grocers. If you know how much it costs elsewhere you can save a fair bit and their roast chicken are delicious
by mjerl (score: 1|16) 3379 days ago
Tku for the article but please please put the location abd times at the top of each article. This would make it si much more user friendly!
by sue.d (score: 0|4) 3378 days ago
Only good if you have big family with 3 kids or more which needs nappies and bulk non perishable supplies. I would not go there and pay annual membership fees.
by tlc988 (score: 1|21) 3377 days ago
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