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Costco groceries:
Bakery, Cheese, Dairy, Frozen, Grocery, Meat, Fruit, Vegetables, Prepared Foods, Seafood, Wine, Beer & Spirits, (more departments)

 

Costco – The wholesale giant!

A Costco membership opens doors, quite literally, to a vast selection of bulk-size groceries and household goods selling at discounted prices. But buying potato chips and batteries by the case is just the start. The warehouse club also stocks everything from tires and furniture to electronics and jewelry.

A few interesting and not so commonly known facts about Costco:

You don’t actually need to be a member to shop
If you’re not ready to commit to a year-long membership, there are still ways to shop at Costco. Members are allowed to bring up to two guests. So if you want to check out the selection and compare prices, ask a friend or family member with a membership if you can tag along. See something you like? The Costco member will need to make the purchase for you — cashiers check membership cards at checkout — but afterward you can simply pay your buddy back. If you want to shop on your own without a membership, give that same friend or family member the money to purchase a Costco Shop Card (formerly Costco Cash Card) for you. These cards are treated like cash and can be bought for as little as $25 (and go up to $2,000 in value). Non-members can use a Costco Shop Card to enter, shop and pay at any Costco location. And if you prefer online shopping, anyone can make a purchase at Costco.com. However, the product selection is limited for non-members, and non-members also may face an additional surcharge on orders.

The store return policy is very generous
There isn’t a time limit on returns or exchanges on most products sold at Costco. However, big-ticket items such as televisions, computers, and smartphones must be returned within 90 days of purchase in order to receive a full refund. That’s still a much more lenient policy compared to other mass retailers that sell similar electronics. This includes Best Buy (most items must be returned within 15 days of purchase), Target (items must be returned within 30 days of purchase) and Walmart (most electronic items must be returned within 30 days of purchase). Among the few exceptions are alcohol and tobacco, which can’t be returned where prohibited by law.

1 in 5 products are from Costco’s Kirkland signature brand
About 20% of the items found at Costco are from its Kirkland Signature private-label brand. The product line includes everything from home goods and apparel to food and liquor. Costco strives to make its branded items as good as or better than national brands, sometimes manufacturing its products in the same factories used by national brands. According to smart shopping expert Bodge, you can often save a few bucks by opting for the Costco brand over a national brand. However, compare quality as well as price. In quality testing, Consumer Reports gave low marks to Kirkland Signature toilet paper and facial tissue.

We put prices on a few Kirkland Signature items found at a Washington, D.C., area Costco to the test against similar name-brand products. Here’s what we found: A 30-roll pack of Kirkland Signature 2-Ply Toilet Tissue (380 sheets) cost $17.49, while a 30-roll pack of Charmin Ultra Soft 2-Ply Toilet Tissue (221 sheets) was $22.99. A 12-roll pack of Kirkland Signature Premium Paper Towels (160 sheets per roll) was $16.99, while the same size package of Bounty Paper Towels (135 sheets per roll) priced at $19.49.

Some Kirkland products are really good values
Many store-branded products appeal to shoppers because they are cheaper than national brands. But cheaper isn’t always better. In an effort to identify some of the best Kirkland Signature products to buy at Costco, we homed in on items that are not only less expensive than national brands but also on par in terms of taste and quality. Here are a few of our favorite Kirkland products. Kirkland Signature bacon, for example, bested top national brands including Oscar Mayer in testing by Consumer Reports. In a quality study of olive oils conducted by the University of California, Davis, Kirkland olive oil was one of only a few imported oils that met international and U.S. standards. Kirkland batteries might not last as long as name brands, but they’re a better value once you factor in quality and price, according to Consumer Reports.

You can buy low-priced organic foods
Costco may not be top of mind for many shoppers when it comes to buying fresh organic foods, but it should be. The warehouse club offers a variety of organic products including fresh produce, cooking oils, and beverages at a lower price when you factor in the unit price. We spot-checked Costco’s prices on a few organic items. Here’s what we found: A 16-ounce container of Earthbound Farm organic spring salad mix cost $5.49 (unit price: 34 cents per ounce) at Costco, while an 11-ounce container of Harris Teeter’s store brand organic spring salad mix totaled $4.99 (45 cents per ounce) at a nearby location. A two-dozen carton of Costco’s Kirkland Signature grade A organic brown eggs was $5.99 ($2.99 per dozen), while an 18-count carton of Harris Teeter’s store brand grade A large organic brown eggs totaled $6.49 ($4.32 per dozen). If you’re buying staples such as organic milk on a weekly basis, it may make sense to buy it in bulk since organic milk lasts longer than regular milk. Costco had a three-pack of 64-ounce cartons of Kirkland Signature organic whole milk for $10.79 ($3.59 per carton), while at Harris Teeter a single 64-ounce carton of their store brand organic whole milk cost $3.99.

You can buy a Car, too
Costco members in the market for a new ride can take advantage of the warehouse club’s auto program, which includes an online car-buying service. Costco has helped over one million members to purchase a car over the last five years, according to its website. Here’s how it works: You search Costcoauto.com for a new or certified pre-owned vehicle. Once you know the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for your desired vehicle, you can then locate nearby dealers who sell it. You’ll be prompted to input your membership information and then be connected with a participating dealer. The dealer will contact you directly to schedule an in-person meeting where they’ll provide the Costco member price — no haggling required. Costco’s auto program also allows members to save 15% on automotive parts and services on any of their household vehicles at participating service centers.