7 Costco shopping secrets you need to know

Everyone’s favourite warehouse has some secrets you may not know about! Keep these in mind on your next shopping trip to Costco.

By Today's Parent
7 Costco shopping secrets you need to know

Photo: iStock Photo

7 Costco secrets you need to know

Membership fees are what make the products cheaper

Wondering how Costco can offer such competitive prices on their products? It’s not because the quality is worse or that your favourite cereal is expiring soon. It’s because of Costco’s membership fees. While most stores buy items for a certain price and tend to sell it for double that, Costco only marks up an item by 14 percent. They make up for that deficit in profit by charging customers an annual membership fee. Pay a fee once, and get access to hundreds of deals for a whole year!

Costco members only signPhoto: iStock Photo

You’ll never find any aisle signs—and that’s on purpose

If you’re headed to Costco to buy a specific item, be prepared for a bit of a treasure hunt when finding it. There purposefully aren’t any signs directing customers around the store to find items because, frankly, they don’t want you to find what you’re looking for too quickly! Costco likes having the freedom to move things around whenever they want. If there were aisle signs, they would have to be constantly updated. And hey, the thrill of the hunt is what makes Costco so fun, right?

Costco shopping cartPhoto: iStock Photo


There are secrets hidden in the price signs

While everything at Costco already seems like a good deal, there’s a way to tell when something is an especially good deal. When you’re at Costco and see a price that ends in a 7, that means the price has been reduced quite a bit in order to get the product off the shelves. In some cases, Costco won’t even make any money off it. Also, check carefully for an asterisk (*) on price signs. If you see one, it means the product isn’t getting reordered right away. There’s many reasons for this: Maybe the manufacturer is changing its packaging or Costco just doesn’t want to sell it anymore. Either way, if you see an asterisk on an item you like, you should stock up because it might not be there on your next shopping trip.

Price tag that ends with a 7Photo: David Zelikovitz, Graham Runciman

Costco carries fewer items than other big stores

While the building is huge and there are products everywhere, Costco actually carries fewer items than other stores of a similar size. This helps keep labour costs low so fewer employees are needed. The items are also curated for you, meaning there aren’t dozens of variations of the same product. You can choose from just one or two Costco-approved items and buy them for a great price.

Costco aisles and itemsPhoto: David Zelikovitz, Graham Runciman

You can buy lunch for only $1.50

If shopping makes you hungry, you can get a hotdog and a pop for just $1.50. Canadians are used to paying more money for products than Americans do, but Costco sells its prepared foods at the same price in both countries. They don’t profit much from the sale of their $1.50 hot dog and pop—they’re just happy to provide a good, cheap meal and avoid hangry customers.

Costco restaurant menuPhoto: David Zelikovitz, Graham Runciman


The sample people aren’t actually Costco staff

Costco is widely known for their amazing samples scattered throughout the warehouse. But did you know those employees handing you free treats aren’t actually Costco employees? They are provided by an outside company. So, next time you want to know where the toothpaste or diapers are, you might not want to ask the sample person, because there’s a good chance they won’t know! Just take a snack and find another employee who actually works there to help you out.

Sample lady at CostcoPhoto: David Zelikovitz, Graham Runciman

There’s a reason they don’t offer bags

If you’re planning to do a big haul on your next Costco trip (and let’s be real, it’s always a big haul), remember to bring something to carry your stuff in. Costco’s founder decided early on that they didn’t want customers leaving with plastic bags like any other grocery store. They preferred a more warehouse feel. At Costco, instead of buying bags, items go straight into your cart at checkout so the store can save money and help keep prices low. It’s a win-win for the company and the environment.

Costco customers leaving store with cartPhoto: iStock Photo

Read more:
Explore a new way to get groceries and save time 8 surprising things you should always buy at Costco 15 ways to save money on just about everything

This article was originally published on Oct 11, 2019

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