Thursday, July 5, 2012
Today I took a field trip to Costco. I'd never been to a Costco before, and I felt it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I walked past the furniture, cell phones, and such; what I was curious about were the food items and the household goods like toilet paper.
And I can certainly see the appeal of shopping at Coastco. If you're shopping for a party — or if you have a large household, lots of storage, or both — Costco might make sense for you.
But if you're someone like me — with a small household and modest storage — you'll need to be really careful in your shopping, or you're likely to wind up with items desperately in search of a place to be stashed away. Where would I put all those paper towels? Or all that toilet paper?
While there were some things that came in reasonable quantities that could work for anyone — a single watermelon, individual bottles of wine — I was amazed at how many things only came in large sizes. And it wasn't just the packages of TP and paper towels.
Tastes of various types of Aidells sausage were being handed out, and they were pretty good. But the packages at Costco each had 15 sausages; unless I was having a party, I'd never want to buy a package of 15. My local grocery has packages of 4; that's going to work much better for me. Yes, I could freeze them, as the salesman pointed out when I complained about the package size — but I have very limited freezer space, and I don't want to use that space for 11 sausages, all the same variety.
And why would I ever need a 33-oz bottle of steak sauce?
Even aluminum foil came in a 2-pack. I never need more than one roll of aluminum foil at a time.
About the only thing I'd want to buy in Costco-sized quantities is bottled water, which I need as an earthquake supply.
Now, I'm using Costco here just as an example — you can just as easily overstock at any other warehouse store, or even at a sale at a regular grocery store. Saving money (and saving on trips) by buying in volume can be great — but only if you're buying stuff you'll really use, and if you won't be tripping over the stuff for the next six months.