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10 Things You Should Buy at Costco

Updated on October 5, 2016
My Bell profile image

As a trained journalist and bargain shopper, Marcelle writes articles to help consumers navigate smart deals.

Costco’s success formula is no secret. As the second-largest retailer in the U.S., sales have grown 54 percent in the last five years despite a lackluster economy. Consumers give Costco's reputation high marks. According to The Harris Poll's 2016 Reputation Quotient Ratings, Costco's ranks up there with the likes of The Walt Disney Company, Apple and Amazon. Members are loyal with 91 percent of U.S. customers renewing their membership in 2015.

Costco runs a “no frills”, member-based operation purchasing large quantities, keeping product markups at 15 percent or less, and providing additional value with its in-house Kirkland brand. While product assortment is selective and often fleeting, there are some regularly stocked items that are a must buy. The list below highlights ten of the many great values available at Costco, including Kirkland and Kirkland Signature branded products.

Source
Kirkland Shampoo and Conditioner have been compared to high-end brands such as Pureology.
Kirkland Shampoo and Conditioner have been compared to high-end brands such as Pureology.

1.) Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo and Moisture Conditioner

The quality of this Kirkland Signature hair care duo is reminiscent of high-end salon brands. It is sulfate-free, paraben-free, vegan, gluten-free, no animal testing, and is safe for color treated hair. Its quality and performance have been compared to Pureology’s Hydrate shampoo and conditioner, a pricey salon brand. It's also a superb value. The chart below compares prices on moisturizing shampoos and conditioners for salon brands, drugstore brands and Costco's product. (Note: Brand prices listed are from retailer Ulta.)

Shampoo & Conditioner Price Comparison

(click column header to sort results)
Product  
Size  
Price  
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
1 liter
$62.00
Pureology Hydrate Conditioner
1 liter
$64.00
EverCrème Sulfate-Free Moisture System Intense Nourishing Shampoo
8.5 oz
$6.99
EverCrème Sulfate-Free Moisture System Intense Nourishing Conditioner
8.5 oz
$6.99
Healthy Sexy Hair Color Safe Soy Moisturizing Shampoo
1 liter
$25.95
Healthy Sexy Hair Color Safe Soy Moisturizing Conditioner
1 liter
$27.95
Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo
1 liter
$9.99
Kirkland Signature Moisture Conditioner
1 liter
$7.49
Kirkland Signature Olive Oil is an exceptional buy.
Kirkland Signature Olive Oil is an exceptional buy.

2.) Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The quality and value of this product is exceptional. A study by The Olive Center at the University of California-Davis found that the Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil was one of just five in the study that had not been combined with cheaper, refined olive oil. At about $10 per liter, this Kirkland product is a bargain. Other well-known brands, some of which failed in the study, cost double or even much more.

Note: Costco's Signature Balsamic Vinegar is a quality product and great value too.

Wine can be purchased without a Costco membership in most states.
Wine can be purchased without a Costco membership in most states.

3.) Wine

Two things set Costco’s wine assortment apart – selection and price. Costco is the largest retailer of fine wine in the U.S. According to Consumer Reports, Costco wine is an exceptional value, ranking its 2011 Kirkland Sonoma Chardonnay ($7) as a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

Costco collaborates with specific winemakers and wineries around the world to create custom blends for its Kirkland Signature wines. The wines are offered in tiered categories that denote quality and value: Premium, Super Premium, and Signature Series.

Here’s the best news! You don’t need to be a Costco member to purchase wine or liquor from its warehouses due to a law that prohibits selling alcohol through members-only agreements. Simply tell the warehouse greeter that you are there to purchase alcohol.

Source

4.) Pet Products

According to a Consumer Reports analysis, Costco’s Kirkland Signature pet food is among the least expensive in this product category. Savings on national branded pet food, such as Iams, can be found as well. Costco carries a broad assortment of pet products at savings over pet retailers and even online retailers. Other pet products found at warehouses include treats, toys, bedding, and pet health products.

Don’t forget the Costco Pharmacy, which carries a full-line of pet medications offered at considerable savings over drug stores and veterinarian offices.

Don't spend extra on brand-name toilet tissue when the Kirkland brand is comparable in quality but for a fraction of the price.
Don't spend extra on brand-name toilet tissue when the Kirkland brand is comparable in quality but for a fraction of the price.

5.) Kirkland Bath Tissue

Bath tissue is the number one selling product at Costco warehouses. The company recently improved their Kirkland Signature bath tissue product by upgrading its softness, absorbency and durability. At less than half the cost per square foot of leading national brands, in a price survey by the warehouse, it is undeniably a great value. The savings from purchasing this product alone throughout the year for your family could likely pay for your Costco membership fee.

Can't part with your name brand toilet tissue? Costco carries a couple of brand named products in this category too, such as Charmin and Northern, which often go on "sale" with instant monthly coupons.

Save on tires and get them services while you shop.
Save on tires and get them services while you shop.

6.) Tires

Purchasing new tires at a warehouse club will save you up to 20 percent off automotive store prices. Included with a Costco tire installation is free pressure checks, tire balancing, tire rotations, and flat tire repairs. The best perk . . you can shop at the warehouse while Costco installs your tires.

Costco is expanding its assortment of organic produce and keeping the great savings.
Costco is expanding its assortment of organic produce and keeping the great savings.

7.) Produce

Take caution before purchasing bulk quantities of produce so that half or more won't end up in the garbage. You might not need a dozen oranges but a bulk size of organic strawberries might be in order if you are making a strawberry pie. If you have a large family and enjoy many servings of fruits and vegetables, there are great values in this product category. Look for organic offerings too as the savings for this category of produce are even greater compared to organic prices in grocery stores.

Fitness clothes are a bargain at Costco.
Fitness clothes are a bargain at Costco.

8.) Fitness Clothing

The global sports apparel market is expected to grow to $178 billion by 2019, according to research firm Trefis.1 Fitness apparel specialty stores have popped up over the last several years to meet this growing demand, including Lululemon and Athleta. Much of the growth in this clothing line is due in part to the desire to wear fitness apparel outside the gym and to the boom of yoga and specialty exercise classes such as CrossFit.

Many fashion retailers, such as Forever 21 and The Gap, are stepping into the fitness apparel market with their own clothing lines in stores and online. Warehouse clubs like Costco are seizing this market as well. Prices for fitness clothing vary significantly from store to store but at Costco, members can purchase this apparel at a fraction of the prices at many retail stores. While the selection is not extensive, the assortment is broad. Some of the fitness apparel items members can purchase at Costco include running shorts, tennis skirts, fitness tops, jackets, and yoga pants. Costco also carries athletic shoes, but the selection is limited.

Coffee pods are expensive but are much more affordable when you purchase the Kirkland brand.
Coffee pods are expensive but are much more affordable when you purchase the Kirkland brand.

9.) Kirkland Signature Coffee Pods

In the world of coffee sales, the single-cup coffee market is growing leaps and bounds. Sales of single-cup coffee have tripled in recent years and continue to grow. Single-cup coffee pods offer convenience but are not cheap. One coffee pod can cost up to a dollar, with most pods cashing in at about 60 to 70 cents per pod. At Costco, you can purchase several brands of coffee pods at a savings but the Kirkland Signature coffee pods are the best value at about 42 cents per pod online and slightly less at warehouses. Costco offers two coffee pod flavors: Pacific Bold and Breakfast Blend.

10.) Costco Executive Membership

Costco Executive members pay $110 for a yearly membership (compared to $55 for a standard membership) and account for about two-thirds of the company’s sales. If you are a frequent Costco shopper, you could easily makeup the additional $55 in membership fees.

Benefits include 2 percent cash back on most Costco purchases in the form of a merchandise certificate along with additional perks and savings on other products and services, such as travel. If you are a frequent Costco shopper and loyal to the Kirkland brand, an executive membership might be worth it.

Think back to your last Costco shopping trip and ask yourself, how often do you shop at Costco? If you shop weekly, you would need to spend about $53 per week at each shopping trip to recover the additional membership amount, or about $229 per month. This does not include bigger ticket purchases you might make from Costco, such as a family vacation, new tires, a flat-screen television, or perhaps a Kirkland Signature patio furniture set. In these scenarios, that 2 percent back could easily pay for your entire membership plus maybe more.

What's Your Most Frequent Costco Purchase?

See results

___________________________________

Sources

1Sherman, Lauren. "For the Activewear Market, There's No Way But Up - BoF - The Business of Fashion." The Business of Fashion, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. <http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/01/activewear-lululemon-nike-hm-sweaty-betty.html>.

Jakab, Spencer. "Growth Is Helping Costco at the Margins." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 11 Mar. 2013. Web. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324096404578354581556318960>.

Logan, Lori Gordan. "Costco: Breaking All the Retail Rules." CNBC.com, 25 Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.cnbc.com/id/47175492>.

"Wine Bargains | Wine Shopping - Consumer Reports." Consumer Reports Money Advisor (October 2013), Sept. 2013. Web. <http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/09/red-wine-white-wine-cheap-wine-bargain/index.htm>.

Fottrell, Quentin. "Sales of Single-serve Coffee Have Tripled since 2011." MarketWatch The Wall Street Journal, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sales-of-single-serve-coffee-have-tripled-since-2011-2013-11-20>.

Vasel, Kathryn. "Costco Could Hike Its Membership Fee." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/22/pf/costco-membership-fee/index.html>.

Denman, Tim. "The 10 Retailers with the Best Reputation." The 10 Retailers with the Best Reputation. Retail Info Systems News, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

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    • cactusbythesea profile image

      cactusbythesea 2 years ago from Seattle

      Great list!! I also recommend their optical services. You can see a doctor and get a prescription for a very affordable price, even if you don't have vision insurance. Costco doesn't have a huge range of frames, but you can use the prescription somewhere else, including online.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thanks for the comments and for the optical suggestion. Since I had Lasik several years back, I no longer need glasses thankfully, but I remember how pricey eyeglasses and contacts were. Either would be a super deal at Costco. I could probably easily expand this list to 20 or more items!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great info to know; thanks for sharing. Cactus too! lol

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Great information to have. I have both a Costco and Sam's Club near me but currently don't belong to either. This may tip the scale.

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 2 years ago from British Columbia

      Definitely the olive oil and I'd include the avocado oil, too. And the executive card level - pays for itself!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I agree that the Executive Level member ship is the way to go. But I do not like the Kirkland brand toilet tissue. I wait for the coupon sale on the name brand ultra soft instead.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

      NUTS-- that's not an expletive, I like to buy almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans and mixed nuts, much cheaper per pound at Costco than supermarkets. Yes, of course you buy large containers, but they keep very well in the refrigerator.

      Copy paper for your computer printer is also a good buy.

      Though I don't use their pharmacy, I understand that prescriptions can be a bargain there. It is also one of the items that does not require a membership for purchase.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very useful information and well presented. Thanks for sharing.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      My daughter and her husband are Costco favorites for certain items. Thanks for sharing your information!! ;-)

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 2 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I love Costco too for all the same reasons. Great list of the top 10 things to buy at Costco. I also echo the recommendation to use their optical services. I order my contacts there now and they are cheaper than anywhere else I can find. The only hassle is you have to order them in person and then go back to pick up in person.

      If I had to add additional items I'd add their coffee beans, organic butter, and organic eggs. All are easily half off what you would pay elsewhere.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I enjoyed your article. I'm one of those loyal Costco shoppers.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you all for your wonderful comments and other product suggestions. So many great bargains at Costco! Thank you too for any and all who voted for this article for the Rising Star accolade. I feel so honored to have received this award and so grateful to the entire Hubpage community.

    • lupine profile image

      lupine 2 years ago from Southern California (USA)

      One of the best hubs, useful and informative. Any tips on stretching our dollars are very welcome.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you, Lupine, for your kind comments.

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 2 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I love the B 12 dissolvable tabs from Costco--and as someone mentioned, the optical service is excellent. The Cuban Organic coffee is to die for!!

    • Hankscita profile image

      Sandy 2 years ago from Florida

      I didn't know you could buy wine or alcohol without a membership. Great tip, and congrats on the Hub of the day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I'm back to say congratulations on HOTD!

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you Hankscita and Flourish!

    • Robin Marie profile image

      Robin 2 years ago from USA

      Terrific list. Congrats on HotD.

    • Ally Lewis profile image

      Ally Lewis 2 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Congrats on HotD! My parents practically live in Costco and this information will definitely be useful to them. I'll be sure to pass it on, thanks!

    • Sarah Switalski profile image

      Sarah Switalski 2 years ago from Iowa

      Congrats on HotD! We have a Costco about 30 minutes away from us. I've visited as a guest of my friend before but my husband doesn't agree when I say we should get our own membership. I think even monthly visits would make up for the membership and price of gas. I will have to show the husband this article!

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 2 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great hub, My Bell! My family and I are avid Costco shoppers, but I hadn't considered the shampoo and conditioner. I will definitely give it a try. Another plus about Costco is the way they treat their employees, which outpaces the other major retailer (which shall remain nameless). I don't know if it's because of the benefits their employer offers, but I find the Costco employees to always be pleasant and helpful. Maybe Costco is just good at finding quality people to employ.

      Again, great hub, and congratulations on the Hub of the Day honor!

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you Robin, Ally, Sarah & Dbro! I feel very honored to have this article chosen for HOTD. I do know about how well Costco treats their employees and I do indeed believe that is why the service there is always super and the employees are smiling. Sarah - do show this article to your husband. Costco has saved my family money on purchases and it's also a super fun place to shop.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      It's true, you can get great deals on tires and olive oil at Costco. I've never tried the shampoos but will keep it in mind next time. Congrats!

    • misterhollywood profile image

      John Hollywood 2 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      Very informative post and really all very true! Congratz on your hub being featured as the Hub of the Day! You deserve it :)!!!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      We don't have a Costco membership, but my parents do. They always get us toilet paper from there, which we don't mind. And, they get us hummus from there as well, which we love! It's the Sabra brand, and it is so much cheaper from there than from anywhere else.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Firstly congrats on your hub being chosen as HOTD!

      In the city where I live they are bringing in a Costco. I can hardly wait as I love shopping there.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you Deal, Hollywood, Relationshipc, and Susan! Costco is so awesome. I probably should do a follow-up article for 10 more items.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 2 years ago from USA

      We had a membership a few years back. The location is a little far for us. Some of the Kirkland brands were better quality than the name brand products I bought at the super markets. If their canned tuna is as good now as it was back then, you need to try it.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 2 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent hub...we are fairly new Costco customers and are finding our way around which products we like. Their vitamins and Omeprazole are good bargains.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Wouldn't have thought of wince, but I'm in.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award. I've shopped at what is called the busiest Costco located just below Vancouver in Bellingham WA. If you're in the area, believe the rumor and go to Everett's Costco! The thing I hate is having to wait in line again to leave the store after standing in line to make a legal purchase, but it lets me exercise the virtue of patience….

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD!! Well done!

      We used to have a membership, but for just my husband and I, the savings on the very few things we wanted to buy that we could use up the larger quantities, (mainly the 6-pack of canned green beans--hubby's favorite vegetable), and 3-pack of A-1 steak sauce (believe it or not, we use it on macaroni & cheese!), did not add up to enough to pay for the membership, which at that time was $10 less than it is now.

      We are currently on an even tighter budget, so things like shampoo come from the dollar store...$6 or $7 for a bottle of shampoo is well over budget.

      However, for my daughters, one with 2 growing girls, an active lifestyle and still-employed husband, and the other, with a teenage son still at home, the Costco membership pays off well for them.

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 2 years ago from The Midwest

      If I remember correctly an executive club member who pays the $110 fee will get the difference refunded at the end of the year if their savings don't total enough money. You do have to be careful though about getting the membership towards the end of the year because there might be some restrictions on that refund.

    • profile image

      dragonflycolor 2 years ago

      Congratulations on your HOTD award. I do have a question though. Is Kirkland the brand name of all these products or is it Costco's equivalent to Walmart's Great Value brand? I do not shop at Costco, so I was inquiring! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Solaras1 2 years ago

      Great article - I can attest to the quality of their dog food. My dogs have been on it for 8 weeks and still have shiny, healthy coats! Can't wait for my executive points to give me a free bag of food!

    • jhehe profile image

      Theo 2 years ago from GeekTech

      Definitely would agree. Just a heads up for those that are wondering, you should not buy hearing aid batteries from Costco. The Kirkland brand is just awful compared to some of the leading.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you all! Yes, Kirkland is the brand name for Costco's products (similar to Great Value at Walmart or Simple Truth at Kroger). Glad to hear about the other product suggestions. I could have easily expanded this list to 20 or more items.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      My Bell,

      I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

      1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

      2, I loved every word.

      3. Graphics, superb.

      4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

      5. Voted Up and all of the choices.

      6. I loved your topic of this hub.

      (Sorry, I couldn't vote in your slot. I have no Costco near my hometown. Just wanted to be honest).

      You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.

      Sincerely,

      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you so much, Kenneth, for your thoughtful and honest comments. It means a lot to me coming from a seasoned journalist and hubber. I have a journalism background but have been busy raising kids for some time so am just getting back to it. I'm grateful for all the encouragement and praise I receive from other hubbers and will definitely keep it up. I will definitely be checking out some of your many quality hubs. Thanks!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear My Bell,

      You are so sweet and warm as to leave me such a tender reply. And I do appreciate you following me. I cherish YOU and all of my followers. I wish I had the monetary-means to take you and all of my followers on a two-month cruise and pay-off all of your bills.

      "It is better to give than to receive."

      You keep up the great work and I will be around if you should ever need my help.

      Kenneth,

      Your Friend for Life

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These tips are excellent reasons to shop at Costco. We are members and love the value and quality of the produce and the other merchandise, including the wine. You've detailed some of the great deals here. We're headed over there today and I'm going to pick up the Olive Oil. We also buy the Kirkland brand of No Grain Dog Food and their whole bean coffee It's actually better than Starbuck's. Up, Useful and Interesting.

      Congratulations on the Hub of the Day award. Well done.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Thank you, Peg! So glad I could give you some suggestions on things to buy and really, this could be a list of 50 things or more. I've heard great things about that pet food. We use the Kirkland dog food with the salmon and sweet potato mix and our dog loves it and her coat looks great. I agree about the coffee too. I love that it's such a great deal too.

    • profile image

      oandc 16 months ago

      I love the Kirkland Colombia ground coffee. Best coffee

    • profile image

      Sue C. 11 months ago

      Hearing Aids are the best bought at Costco. My husband saved thousands and is getting the best care ever. He will never go elsewhere for his hearing aids!

    • profile image

      clayR 7 months ago

      Get the Avacado Oil! Amazing stuff, as healthy as Olive Oil, light to almost no taste but with a very high smoke temperature unlike Olive Oil (and even higher than vegitable oil) making it a great all around cooking oil. Costco is the only place that sells it at a reasonable price.

    • My Bell profile image
      Author

      Marcelle Bell 7 months ago

      Thanks, ClayR! I am going to try that on my next trip there. Costco has so much great stuff at reasonable prices that I could easily expand this list to 100 plus items.

    • profile image

      Dino Matucci 4 months ago

      I have tried many different brands of Albacore and have always been totally satisfied with Kirkland .. .Note: Albacore is the only Tuna that can be labelled "White, by the F.D.A. There cans are solidly pack and very tasty..If you like a more fishery taste,then buy the Skip Jack" Tuna...

    • profile image

      Kara 12 days ago

      Be careful with the costco brand pet food. The dry food is known to cause sickness in many dogs.

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