Fifteen years ago I traded a corporate career for life on the river. Close enough to Melbourne to get a quick City fix, plus a great community with excellent coffee and four healthy active boys to keep me entertained, I've never regretted the change.
Published January 14th 2014
Enjoy finding multiple deals at a fraction of the usual cost
What is Costco? An American-based wholesale warehouse aimed at families and small businesses, Costco stocks large quantities of popular goods at very reasonable prices. Have you always wanted to check out Costco in Ringwood or Docklands, but been a little unsure of how it works? The following pointers are from a self-confessed Costco tragic. You never know, it may just change your life. Have a nice day.
Be prepared for the underground Carpark
At Costco Docklands there is a time limit on free parking, a small fee per hour follows, payable at a single ticket machine before leaving the carpark via a set of boomgates. You will need small change. This carpark can get quite busy, and there isn't much manoeuvring room. It is essential that you pay for your ticket before getting to the boomgates.
Costco trolleys are supersized, as are the rather scary ramps that lead shoppers inexorably to the great maw on the shopping level. So to avoid heart-palpitating near-misses on the slopes, use the large and well maintained lifts. In general, the traffic flows smoothly. At Docklands, head the trolley in forwards from the carpark as the lift disgorges from the opposite side to the entry. There is only one way in and out at Ringwood, so try backing in like the pros.
There are guards at the gate, cleverly disguised as friendly pamphlet distributors.
YOU MUST SHOW THEM YOUR CARD.
This is the key to the store, and no-one gets past these smiling coupon handlers. Newbies who haven't sorted a membership online should head to customer service, tucked away just inside the exit, where you can pay your $60, have your photo taken on the spot and be shopping in a matter of minutes.
Take a list, but don't expect to find everything you want today
Who can resist chocolate brownies, sweetcorn and giant mayo jars?
This is the hardest part. The store is laid out for maximum impulse and it is all so reasonably priced that temptation is around every corner. But be warned, everything is giant sized, or multi-packed, so unless you have a good use for a 20 pack of cucumbers or 2 quarts of Best's Mayonnaise (1.9l, it is an American store and all the measurements are in U.S. customary measurements), leave it in on the shelf.
There are two types of grocery at Costco; Kirkland, and everything else. Kirkland is the store brand, and pretty serviceable. You will probably notice over time that your trolley has more and more Kirkland items per visit as you bravely commit to trying 1.45 gallons of laundry detergent or a four-pack of pale butter sticks.
Some days you may leave with nothing but a coffin-sized package of Danish smoked salmon and the ubiquitous slab of freshly baked croissants.
There appears to be no unbleached toilet paper - ever.
The rule of thumb is dry goods to the left, homewares to the right, books, sports and clothing in the middle, meat on the back wall, bakery and fresh produce in the bottom right corner, dairy at the bottom left. The freezer cabinets are in a block in the middle of the grocery section. At Ringwood the booze is down the back, at Docklands it is the last thing you pass before the registers. Hmmmm. Did I mention how reasonably priced the duty-free-sized top shelf labels are?
Take a cash-paying guest for free and let the professionals take control at the register
You can introduce another shopper for free, but when checking out, the name on any credit card must match the membership card, so if you have invited a guest, they must pretend you are buying the goods and pay cash.
Each checkout has at least 2 smiling attendants. One heads you off at the top of the register, whisks your trolley away and unpacks, the other grabs your membership card - yes, you need it again to get out - and you are efficiently and courteously processed. This may take up to 4 smiling attendants. It will be over before you know it.
Once you are processed, you and your groaning trolley can join fellow shoppers in a celebratory hotdog. At Docklands, this is the highlight of the visit, as the picnic area fronts directly on to the Star Wheel, an impressive, if slightly unnerving view. For a couple of dollars you can have a bottomless soda and a hot dog with mustard and onions from a serve-yourself onion grinding machine. For a little more you can share a very flat pizza in a very large box.
Be prepared for the exit procedure and take a large Esky
Closely related to their coupon counterparts at the entry, the highlighter wielding exit door guards check the contents of your trolley against the list on your docket. Have the docket ready as the crowd building up behind you will be anxious for freedom and can get quite agitated if forced to wait.
The handy thing about supersized products is that they are much easier to get in the car. You will notice immediately that there are no tiny little cans to roll around, or awkward shapes in loose plastic bags to have to juggle. Take an Esky for the salmon and those King Island cheeses you forgot to put on the list and remember to leave enough room to drive.
Have you any Costco hints?
Ever bought prescription glasses or a big ticket item such as diamond jewellery? Do you think a visit to Costco is worth it?
If you need your hearing tested it is free for Costco members and if the test results reveal that you need hearing aids you will save significantly at Costco. I paid $3000 for my hearing aids which the exact same model are retailing for between $10000 to $10500 at an outside commercial hearing centre. Testing was extensive and very professional audiologist's.
Have been a member for nearly 3 years . First joined in Canberra .
The Kirkland Salsa Sauce is to die for , be aware of supermarket prices . Stay away from Chocolate isle with children , also good for men's Levis jeans