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The Costco wholesale chain was founded in 1976 in San Diego, and spread its chains throughout America, in 1993 Costco opened its first UK warehouse.
Although Costco is not a familiar name at the moment in the UK, I think it soon will be as well known as Makro.
The aim of Costco is provide their members with quality goods at the lowest possible prices, there are various warehouse type places (ie Tradex) open to the public that try to do this, but none so well as Costco in my experience.
Costco have two types of membership, either trade - you have provide evidence that you own or manage a business - e.g. VAT registration certificate or business utility bill) or individual membership. You are eligible for individual membership if you are employed in or retired from Banking/finance Civil servant education fire/rescue Insurance Local government medical police force solicitor or barrister
I would have thought that list covers just about anyone who has a job so it is easy to apply and recieve your card.
To apply for membership - take along with you you employee ID card, payslip or copy of your professional qualification and a utility bill proving your home address. You do have to pay for membership which at £25 plus VAT seems quite steep. You do get 2 cards (one for your spouse) for this price and each card allows the card holder and 2 guests entry to the warehouse. Children are welcome in the warehouse, but you are asked to keep a close eye on them as there are forklifts busy stocking the shelves.
Once you have gained entry to the warehouse, they always check your card on entry. You will be amazed and overwhelmed with the amount of stock they carry.
There are electronics for office home and resale including PC'c, printers, scanners,TV's, videos, DVD's, stereo's camcorders and cameras. We bought a TV/Video combi unit for James at the price of £80 (inc vat) which I though was a bargain especally as it is remote control too (another one to lose)! They stock all well known brands, Phillips, Lec, Goodmans, HP and so on.
You can also buy food here! There is a fabulous array of fresh foods on sale, a tray of 24 fresh baked (large) croissants cost £1.99! 18 large skinless chicken breasts for £11. All the products on sale are suitable for home freezing as long as they are frozen on the day you buy them. There are loaves of bread, cakes, wedding cakes, birthday cakes almost too much to mention! From personal experience the meat is of excellant quality and it is also available to try, there are staff members in all the aisles cooking a selection of the food on sale.
There is also a fantastic array of snack on confections on sale, whole boxes of walkers crips (48 packets) approximately £6. Chocolate like you wouldn't belive..........drool. Again all the tops names at really knockdown prices, (walkers, pringles, sunny delight, mcvities and golden wonder to name but a few).
You can also go mad in the aisles with wines and spirits, I didnt't take much notice of the prices not being a drinker - but we did come home with 30 cans of guinnes for £25! Hmmmm
There is a large selection on home products also, washing powder, toliet rolls, washing up liquid, bleach. A large bottle of bleach (5 litres) will set you back the princely sum of £3.82! Although I wouldnt recommend buying the large toliet rolls! (5 packets containing 9 rolls maybe cheap but its bloody awkward and heavy to carry!)
It is possible to stock up on your groceries here, for a smaller family this wont perhaps be too much value as large tubs of margerine or bottles of mayonaise will go off quickly, but we stocked up with tea bags, and coffee, again top brands only are sold.
Health and beauty products are also worth checking out and filling your trolley with, everything from boxes of pampers nappies, to tooth brushes to sanitary products, all at unbelievable prices.
I was surprised to find an opitcal section, and was even more surprised to find not only do they do sight tests, but supply the glasses too! The sight test is £9.99 ( usual high street price £14.99+) and single vision lenses are £29.99 - I know where I will be going when my specs need changing!
Costco also provide a tyre service, I haven't checked this out as yet, but I have been told that they will check your tyres and change them whilst you shop, and they are very competatively priced.
The only dissappointment I had with Costco, was the toy section was relatively small, they had a few tents and paddling pools, but that was about it. Maybe nearer christmas this department will fill up a little.
You can use company or personal cheques at Costco and debit cards - they do not take credit cards due to the high cost of making the transaction.
After payment you load your shopping either into empty boxes (provided) there are no bags - again to keep the cost down and you can then sit and have a well earned break in their cafe, this is just a roped off area in the main warehouse, but you can sample some of their fresh baking/pizza etc, again this is good value.
It is a good idea NOT to pack your boxes, but to put your shopping back in the trolley and take the boxes out with you, as you are stopped at the exit and a staff member counts your products against your till reciept - as long as that tallies you are free to go and load your car!
All in all I did wonder whether the membership fee would be worth it, my conclusion - yes it definately is we saved a total of £59 shopping at Costco for health products, pet foods and meat compared to shops prices, a definate bargain.
Costco warehouses can be found:- Essex Glasgow Manchester Edinburgh Aberdeenshire Liverpool Watfor Leeds Tyne & Wear Derby
Cant agree with you more! I've worked in Costco (Aberdeenshire) for the last three and a half years as a Instore Demonstrator (the ones doing the cooking). They get heaps of toys in at Christimas but you have to be quick off the mark!
tehuti 14.07.2001 23:58
My husband gets free membership from work, which is IT-related - not in your list of eligible categories. Yes, it is great. We found a book there by John le Carre, selling at a discount yet available before the official UK publication date.
Trouble is, David always comes back having spent £100+ on big jars of sweets, other confectionary and alcopops for the kids - sigh...
MichelleScott 11.05.2001 14:39
Excellent op - well-written and very comprehensive. They do have a good range of toys at Christmas - we got quite a few top brands much cheaper than the ordinary shops. The only trouble with Costco is that I just spend way too much there!