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  • Writer's pictureLauren Kruse

10 Costco insider tips...from a Costco insider

Okay, so as someone who has worked for this company for over a decade and spent the majority of my time there in marketing, I admit I may be a little biased. But y'all...you simply can NOT #momlife without a Costco membership. Like, you are missing out on ALL THE THINGS..and all the savings.

This place can suck the money out of your bank account because you will go there for diapers and walk away with a Yeti cooler with a built in stereo that you never knew you needed. That being said, you will save so much dang money on groceries and time spent on shopping that you will not regret it for a minute. I promise! 

This is going to be a lengthy post, because I am going to make my recommendations on what membership you should have as well as fill you up with a few insider tips, but bear with me y'all. When you are getting a nice check back at the end of the year simply for shopping and strolling out the store with 3 gallons of designer shampoo for $6.97, you will thank me. I will have another post on my top recommended items to buy at Costco, but this post will be dedicated to how to make the most out of your membership and shop like a true pro.

Step 1: Joining the Club of all Clubs

Start with the Executive membership. It's an extra $60 a year ($120 annually instead of $60 annually) but you will then earn 2% back on most qualifying purchases within Costco and Costco.com. They also recently added travel to the qualifying purchases, so book that Disney cruise I will talk about later in my other Costco post, and earn 2% cash back for doing so. They make this membership satisfaction guaranteed so that if you don't earn that extra $60 back it costs to be an Executive member at the end of your membership year, they will pay you back the difference and then downgrade you to the Goldstar membership. Trust me, you will make it back.

2. Hunt the Mother out of this place.

Okay, here is one of my favorite secrets about Costco. The entire design of the company is to be a "scavenger hunt" type atmosphere. There are no aisle signs and products change location constantly. The idea is to get you to search for the one or two items you came there for and leave with something completely random and unexpected. "Honey, do you SEE the price of this?" But again, trust me on this. Searching allows you to find the "secret" markdowns. There is no such thing as a clearance section in Costco. Sometimes on the back end of the aisles they will have flat beds with "last of" items, but this is not guaranteed. If you know how to read the signs, however,  you will know how to guarantee you are getting an even better deal. Any sign price that ends in .97 or .00 is a markdown item and you are getting a MAJOR deal. The ".00" ending signs typically indicates a last item as well as a possible display. If you see this one on a piece of furniture you love, throw your body on top of it until your husband can meet you at said piece of furniture with a flat bed..like guard it with your life! You are getting a DEAL. The majority of my house is decorated with Costco furniture and rugs. I ALWAYS wait for the markdown or a display of what I am buying and the deals I have gotten are insane. Also look out for signs ending in ".97". This is what you will see more commonly. This indicates an item they are simply trying to move out of the store either to replace it with another item, or because seasonally it's sale time is over, etc.

3. You do not need coupons

Anything in Costco that is on coupon will automatically come off at the register. To know what is currently on coupon, pick up a book at the Membership desk or download the Costco app. Also, anything that says "manufacturer's instant rebate" on the sign will automatically come off on the register.

4. Shop for Christmas in August or September

Costco sets itself apart from other retailers in this matter. With most other retailers you can expect to walk into the store on December 26th and buy anything holiday related for 75% off. Not at Costco. Because at Costco the holiday items are put on the floor in August with the plan to be SOLD OUT by December. The idea behind it is brilliant- place early, sell for full price (remember still a deal if buying at Costco) and have most of the merchandise moved and off the floor before the holidays have even ended. This can understandably be frustrating for members who find that Christmas trees are sold out and will not be re ordered by the second week of December, or that the amazing gift idea they saw is gone, but if you know how to shop the store you can avoid this, get great Christmas deals, and be DONE with your shopping before Labor Day. I call that a win :).

5. Shop on afternoons: Tuesdays-Thursdays or FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

Because otherwise, accept the chaos. Embrace it as you would your sweet child. That is just the nature of Costco. It is popular and insane and people love it. Tuesdays-Thursdays around 1:30-5 tend to be significantly slower however. Also, first thing in the mornings before the lines begin to really form.

6. Decorate your home with ALL the good furniture in January and July

Furniture is available year round at Costco.com, however if you are like me you may need to get physical with your pieces. Touch them, feel them, imagine them in your home...Furniture is rolled out only twice a year IN store at Costco- this is right after the holidays in January and following the 4th of July. Be sure to browse the center of the warehouse during this time, because the furniture is extremely good quality, the prices are near unbeatable, and the pieces get cuter every year.

7. Don't limit yourself to one warehouse

I live in Georgia, so this means there are certain areas of town where you can be within a 10 mile radius of multiple warehouses. Members in my experience tend to find "their warehouse" and stick to it under the assumption that every warehouse locally carries the same items. This my fellow Costco friends, is not the case. Regional warehouses are dispersed and buy specific to each warehouse by what may tend to sell better or be in higher demand. Granted, the bulk (see what I did there, bulk...describing a BULK warehouse) will be the same. but there will always be certain items carried at one local Costco and not at another.

8. If you see it, BUY IT.

Blink, and it will be gone. Do NOT wait on it or decide that you will ponder how much you need it and pick it up at your next visit. Costco is very limited in the number of skews it carries. The design of it is not to over saturate a buyer with multiple types of one item. There may be one or two, take it or leave it. So if you love it, take it. Costco is also is known to always be searching for the best deal for their members and to incorporate new vendors. Since they do not carry a ton of say, bagged popcorn, if they find a better deal on one or a new vendor, they may stop carrying the one that is your midnight snack addiction and you didn't pick up that bag last week when you were there, so shame on you! :) 

9. If you impulse buy, don't panic.

Costco has one of, if not the most, lenient return policies I have EVER seen. You can literally return just about anything. I have seen members return things that most decent humans would never consider bringing back and actually expecting to get full credit for, but this is what sets Costco apart. It is the belief that members pay to shop, the service should be far and above anywhere else (kudos to them), and that it is actually an extremely small percentage of members that abuse this.

10. Last but not least, don't pack your lunch.

Because...demos. The holy grail of a Costco membership. Yes, there are always demos. But wouldn't you rather know the days you can load up on pigs in a blanket, mini ham sandwiches, that Vita Mix demo smoothie and a cookie? DUH! Typically the 3 days leading up to just about any holiday are the busiest and best for food demos. And y'all, they DON"T skimp! So skip having to slap together a pb&j on this day, throw your kiddos in the car and run to Costco to fill up on these mini snacks.

I hope you feel more empowered to enter into the Mother ship of all warehouses and fill your giant buggy with the best deals available! Shop on friends!

xoxo,

Lauren


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