A Tribute to Tuesday Shopping: My Costco Infatuation

Since moving to Canada I have become just a little obsessed with shopping at Costco.

I spent my formative 18 months in Calgary on a visitor’s visa while awaiting my permanent residence which would entitle me to work.  I had an inordinate amount of free time on my hands to explore.  One of my favourite weekly – and sometimes twice-weekly – rituals was visiting one or more of the Costco locations around Calgary.  It was ridiculous, but it was what I did.  I slowly became familiar with their deals and merchandising.  I quickly learned that if you don’t buy the novel new thing they are carrying this week then it’s likely it won’t be available in the future again!  Needless to say, we landed up with a lot of unnecessary yet cool stuff!

In the week prior to starting my first full-time Engineering job in Canada I faithfully visited each of the then 4 Costco locations in the greater Calgary area as a final tribute to my shopping ritual.  Even though they mostly carried the same merchandise, and despite having nothing I necessarily needed from the Warehouse, I still felt I needed to mourn the dying days of my weekly routine, despite the amazing prospect of a new job and of now being able to earn a salary to justify and support my Costco habit!

After being laid off from my job back in 2016 I began to revive my weekly Costco ritual.  However, this time I approached it with significantly more discretion, thanks to an invaluable blog that I was introduced to by a friend.  The Costco West Fan Blog, faithfully run by a fellow Costco Addict in the Vancouver area, has saved our household hundreds of dollars by highlighting for me.  As one of their thousands of faithful subscribers the Fan Blog summarises for me what the deals of the week are in Costco Warehouses across Western Canada.  Aside from the regular weekly Costco deals leaflet, the Fan Blog highlights many additional unadvertised discounts and end-of-product-range deals. Note that a similar Fan Blog exists for Eastern Canada.

I now use the weekly e-mail that arrives in my Subscriber Inbox on a Tuesday morning to review all the sale items for that week.  Using this, in conjunction with my household grocery requirements, I generate my Costco shopping list by mid-morning on a Tuesday and off I go to one of my closest Warehouses to stock up.  Assuming I remain disciplined, I no longer scour the aisles and succumb to buying items that I really don’t need.  I effectively do that ahead of time in the sanity of my home office.  My time visiting the Warehouse is now a lot more focussed and discerning.  My weekly Warehouse savings are regularly in the vicinity of 10% of my shopping bill.  This does not mean that I don’t still come away with a few non-essentials that were conveniently highlighted in the Fan Blog “shopping cart”.  We use these cool items as a stash for Christa’s stand-by gifts box, or to spoil family or friends.

Benefits, shortfalls and warnings about my “system”

Should you wish to adopt my shopping tactic you may want to consider the following:

  • Ensure you have generous basement shelf and freezer storage space to stock-pile your bulk deals!
  • Create a system for stock control, particularly for items that have a shelf-life.
  • Remember to take the time to visit your basement store room BEFORE heading out to the Warehouse, otherwise you risk duplicating repeat deals!
  • Consumable household care items like laundry detergents come up on deals regularly, so be careful not to over-stock when deals are posted.  Over time you will get to know your deals!
  • Buy in bulk and share with family or friends.  You don’t have to keep it all to yourself.
  • Shopping the deals exposes you to some (food) items that we would otherwise never have tried.  This is introduced us to some items that are now staple diet items in our home.
  • The Fan Blog is a great way to buy seasonal items for next year – assuming you have the patience to wait a year to use them and you have a system to remind you that you actually bought items on a deal when next year arrives!  This applies to Christmas décor, garden ornaments and lawn care, Halloween outfits and loads of other specials that you should remain on the look-out for!
  • Under some exceptional circumstances your local Warehouse might offer a deal that is not posted on the Fan Blog.  Keep on the lookout for these nuggets.  By the same token, there are occasions that the Fan Blog posts deals that we never see in our Calgary Warehouses, so don’t rock up at your Warehouse and threaten them if you don’t find a deal posted locally!  Warehouses reserve the right to post their own local deals or not offer some deals.  There are always exceptions!
  • Remember that Membership is essential.  No membership card = no entry to the Warehouse!
  • Membership is tiered with different benefits offered for the different tiers.  If you are a regular Costco shopper you will quickly generate cash-back benefits that will likely pay for your annual membership fee.  It’s worth it!  Visit www.costco.ca for more details.
  • Admittedly shopping at a Costco Warehouse is not always the most convenient outing, particularly if you’re constrained to shopping after work hours.  Consequently, Costco may not be the solution for you.  However, if you adopt the Fan Blog route you might find you can whip through the Warehouse a lot quicker, so consider leaving your shopping until 7.30pm when the store may be quieter and you can nail your shopping list in no time at all without facing parking and line-up headaches before the store closes!
  • Parking bays are generous and spacious, although you might have to park quite a way away from the Warehouse entrance during busy times of the day.
  • Shopping carts are constructed with robust quality and generally are a lot better to navigate than any other retail store with similar metal carts!
  • Check-out counters move efficiently even though line-ups can look intimidatingly long!
  • Costco’s exceptional product returns policy is unmatched in the retail industry.  My opinion is that it is easily abused, but it’s still a great benefit to the Consumer!
  • Don’t forget that many Costco Warehouses offer loads of additional services: pharmacy facilities, optical care, tire fitting centres, and liquor outlets.
  • Costco’s Kirkland Brand rocks!

Are you also a “Costco Junkie”? Please share your favourite thing about Costco with us in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: “I am Calgary” and its Owners have no affiliation with Costco or the Costco West Fan Blog.  Reference to Costco and the Costco West Fan Blog in this story are in no way subsidized or intended to benefit “I Am Calgary”.

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