Did you ever see that episode of the sitcom 'Friends' where Joey eats jam out of a really huge jar? Well, Costco always makes me think of particularly large jars of food, but bulk buying at wholesale prices has come a long way since the '90's.
Costco is a membership warehouse club, where they buy in bulk, at reduced rates, and then pass those rates on to their members.
Products at Costco include a wide selection of merchandise, plus the convenience of specialty departments and exclusive member services. It's essentially a huge warehouse with a bit of everything, from groceries to electronics to the Costco pharmacy.
Rather than just being discounted stuff, Costco products are branded items, in many cases, but the Costco price list is a lot more pocket friendly, because of the volumes they buy in increasing their 'buying power'.
Costco stores are member only, meaning you have to sign up to be a member, which will cost you $55 - $60 a year, depending on your membership type. You then receive a Costco Card, with which you can visit any of the Costco stores in Australia. There aren't actually that many around yet, but they're working on it, with stores in Auburn and Canberra following soon after the first Costco in Melbourne.
Members can visit any stores and can bring children and two guests with them, but only card carrying members can actually make any purchases and take advantage of shopping at Costco's wholesale prices.
Additionally, around twice a year, members receive Costco coupons to further reduce prices, which is never a bad thing.
So how do Costco prices compare with regular supermarkets and shops?
Well, you have to be a member to access the prices, or receive the coupons, but a quick Google for current Costco coupons brings up some results you can view for information:
KidKraft Soho Townhouse Dollhouse recently sold for $129.97 at Costo Auburn, and while I can't find many online, there's one selling on Gumtree, second hand for $159.
The same Costco are/were selling the Roald Dahl Phizz-whizzing Collection for $28.99, while this comparison from Booko shows it for sale starting at $73.34, so that's a pretty huge saving.
If you're thinking along more survivalist lines, like food, you'll often - although not always - score here too. For example, a kg of minced garlic at Costco will cost you $2.93, while the same at Coles will be $6.04 and at Woolworths, $5.56. Skinless Free Range Chicken Breast at Costco will cost you $12.95 per kilo while, Coles and Woolies are $18.29 and $15.99 respectively.
Like with everything, it's not a bad idea to do a bit of price comparison if you're able to, and with some clever shopping you should be able to take quite a chunk off your regular shop, assuming you do it often enough to justify the membership fee. We recently joined a wholesale food cooperative with a group of friends, and I've been surprised how quickly the savings have added up. It really just boils down to planning ahead and giving up a little of the convenience of popping to your local shops.