If you’re a lover of the food court, impressed by ridiculously clean, smooth floors, and slightly addicted to samples… welcome to the Costco club.
It’s pretty much the only place where your shopping cart can contain a $45,000 diamond ring resting on top of a five-gallon jug of cooking oil.
It’s also the only place I’d like to be stuck/trapped/held captive in the event of an alien parking lot invasion. Think about it… grab a mattress, sheets, down comforter, scooch yourself to the middle aisles, bust open a pillow two-pack, choose some cozy jammies, slippers and a good book, plug in a heater and wait for the sample servers to come around with hors-d’oeuvres at five. Rotisserie chicken, bagged salad and artisan bread for dinner? I’ll grab the paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware. Brownies or pumpkin pie for dessert? Yes.
Before we accidentally start planning this event, let’s get to the Costco secrets.
- I am not an employee of Costco.
- I am not a secret shopper with the ability to write Costco up for not letting me drive the floor squeegee/rider/thingy.
- I do not own Costco stock.
- I have only put one question in the suggestion box. (Why is cornbread seasonal?)
- I do not follow Costco on Twitter.
- I have never spent the night in Costco, though I’m not entirely opposed to the idea.
- I am not member FDIC, mostly because I do not know what that means.
1. Open, Open, Open
Most Costcos in the States open at 10:00 a.m., but if you live in Mexico… 9:00 a.m., baby! Once I arrived early to our Ensenada store thinking I had 15 minutes to wait. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a dude with a key and a smile just for me. In I went at 8:45, feeling like I had been given an extra chunk of time in my day. This happens in Temecula, CA, too!
2. Turnover Nights
Ever wonder why the display of rad, crazy-soft blankets moved from the front to the middle and then to the right? Marketing. Costco moves things around to make you take a different route and possibly see new products.
New products are stocked on Saturday during the night shift, so if you want to see the latest and greatest, shop Sunday. But first, go to church and pray for patience because there tends to be a bit of gridlock around the TVs and Nearly Naked Popcorn.
3. Some Prices Will Never Change
Behold, the all-American hotdog, and soda combo, alive and well in Baja, too. Same price since the day Costco opened… just a mere $1.50. Friendly reminder: just because something is super cheap and makes your mouth dance does not mean it’s healthy for your insides.
Did I just ruin it?
Sorry—I ruined it.
4. Costco Membership = Discounts on Cars, Vacations, and Coffins
Not much to explain here. If you plan on buying a car, going on a vacation or kicking the can soon, shop costco.com first.
5. For Real Bargains, Shop the Perimeter and Middle
According to Lifehacker, the middle area of the store is referred to as “action alley” because of the high traffic. “Makers and distributors often pay for the privilege of being there, and the prices are aggressive,” the site says. The flashy displays at the end of aisles, where lucrative samples are given, tend to be the worst bargains in Costco.
I love lucrative samples.
6. Price Adjustments
Besides having an amazing return policy, Costco also offers a 30-day price adjustment guarantee. If an item gets marked down within 30 days of when you bought it, take your receipt to customer service and get the difference reimbursed. Badda-bing, badda-boom.
7. Cheapest Prescription Drugs
A recent Consumer Reports survey found that, when it comes to generic prescription drugs, Costco’s pharmacy is the most affordable on the market.
Extra Bonus: Did you know Costco membership is not required for Costco Pharmacy purchases online or in the warehouses? Annnd… they offer home delivery. Ding-dong!
8. Ninety-Seven-Cent Tags are Your Friends
Most regular priced items end in .99¢, and sometimes .49¢, .79¢, and .89¢. But the real bargains end in .97¢. They’re the items that have been marked down to the lowest sales you’ll find. They’re throughout the whole store, even on food items. Score, score, score some more.
9. Asterisks Mean “Bye Bye”
If you see this symbol (*) in the top right corner of the price tag then you know the item will not be restocked. What you see is all they have, and it won’t be returning, so if it’s something you need, stock up. Exception: popular seasonal merchandise might be returning, but not for a year. Don’t panic though: Christmas decor now arrives in August. #sweatysanta
10. Think Outside the (Costco) Box
The clear, plastic container that holds a 12-pack or 14-pack of apples perfectly fits Christmas ornaments. Fa-la-la-la-la!
What’s your favorite Costco bargain?
Besides maybe pita and hummus, what do you think Jesus would buy at Costco?
Originally from the redwood forest of Mount Hermon, CA, Carrie lived in Baja, Mexico for the past 12 years. She and her husband, and two very white, bilingual boys just moved back to the States and are gradually adjusting to traffic and taco prices.
In the middle of a non-profit ministry and surrounded by dust and mud, she wrote a children’s book about bullying. She is now collaborating on a nonfiction book about loss, guilt and grace.
Carrie is dedicated to Jesus and avocados, and blogs regularly at carrietalbottink.com. She can also be found on Twitter @carrie_talbott and on Facebook at Carrie Talbott Ink.