Wednesday, May 6, 2009

McDonald's, Move Over

I went to the Costco on Markham Rd. yesterday. As always, our first stop there is to feed ourselves. They say that when you shop on an empty stomach, you end up purchasing things you don't need. From past experience I can attest to that theory. I was going to order 2 hot dogs and an order of fries for myself and the boys. I looked at their menu display and noticed that they now offer a burger combo: 1/2 pound Angus beef burger, fries and pop. Ooh! And that's not all! The price? $5.99!!!! That's right! $5.99. No typing error. It costs more at McDonald's for the equivalent. And Harvey's too! From now on, if I'm not BBQ'ing them at home, I'll be getting me some burger Costco's, my favorite burger joint (OK, that's an overstatement because everyone knows that Johnny's is the best). In case you're wondering, the burger was really yummy and so big that I was only able to eat two-thirds of it.

I just wanted to add that for the past 2 weeks I've been buying Grade AAA boneless premium beef roast. It was selling for $13.19/kg and a great deal (Costcoholic Anna gave me the heads up). Unfortunately this was short-lived because when I checked yesterday the price has shot up to $23.10/kg!!!! A $10/kg difference - almost double the price!!!!! That's just outrageous!!!! Sorry for the overuse of exclamation marks here but you can probably guess how upset I am about this sticker shock.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passport Pictures

With the June 1 US-Canada border rules looming, I'm applying for passports for my children and I. Now that I've completed the application I need to get our photos taken. The first place I thought to go was Costco, of course.

We walked over to the Photo Service Center and I asked the lady how much it would be. $6.00/set of 2! I think that's the cheapest you can get anywhere. I promptly told her that my children and I would like to get them done if she was available. Unfortunately they don't take passport photos for children. I was so disappointed. I had just brought the boys to get their haircuts and they looked great. Oh well, it was just going to be me. I didn't know that there were so many rules about passport photos. The photographer said that I needed to remove my glasses (although I was pretty sure that Passport Canada said it was o.k. as long as they weren't' tinted). So I took them off only to find out that I can't wear a white top because the backdrop was white too!? I put on my winter coat so that problem was solved. Geesh! Twenty minutes later my photos are ready for pick up. Yeah! Now I have to take the children to another place.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More $$$ back!

For the last couple of weeks, I've been losing sleep over the receipts. Hubby is adamant that he gave me the two receipts for the two new toilets. I've been searching feverishly high and low! I even ended up cleaning out all the garbage from his car (aahh, so I get it! "Free cleaning"). I found one receipt in his wallet and I had one of them. I gave up on it when there was no place else I could think of to look. This is what happens when you send hubby to buy something. I sent him out to buy a toilet and he comes home with a pair of new Bolle sunglasses and a toilet. I guess with all the excitement of a 5 year-old, he must've carelessly put the receipt on his seat and let it fly out the window or an open door.

So, today was the last day that I could go to Costco for my price adjustment for my toilets. As sick as I felt, I HAD to go. It's a lot of money I'd get back, you know! So, at 3 pm, with a couple of hours before closing, I forced myself out of bed. All I had on my mind was $$$ back! Unfortunately, I only got $62 ( $30 each for two toilets and $2 for the Qtips I bought last week) back since I couldn't find one of the receipts! Oh well, $62 is better than none, right?

Lesson #1: Never tell your husband to shop at Costco. It'll cost you double...


Thursday, April 2, 2009

You know you're a Costcoholic when....

I was over at my cousin's yesterday. It was playdate again with my kids' favourite cousin SweetL. We were sitting around chatting and the children came over to us to eat their Thinsations (purchased from Costco, of course). They emptied the little cookies onto the ottoman and were nibbling away. SweetL's older sister was sitting with us too and she asked her baby sister for a cookie. Of course SweetL obliged and DC decided he would follow suit. He walked up to SweetL's sister and presented her with a cookie in a cupped hand and said "You want a free sample?" Spoken like the son of a true Costcoholic mom! I'm so proud!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

$$$ back!

Just my luck...I guess you could say it's not a bad thing but if you want a price drop, ask me to buy something that I don't usually buy like, let's see...a microwave oven?? Or a toilet? In the last couple of months, I've bought both of the above along with my regular groceries. Well, last month, I got a price adjustment of about $71 (with tax) on the toilet that we bought in January. This same toilet is in their Spring Savings coupon book and it's an additional $30 off next week. The thing is that at only one location is the price marked down by $71. I wondered if they would hike the price back up to $239.99 and before the $30 off but CS didn't know. I asked why the price difference between two stores and I was told that the managers of the each store have the flexibility to markdown items if they aren't moving. In this case, if the price remains the same next week, they told me to bring in the receipts (we have three) and they'll credit us the difference. The great thing about this price reduction was that it was not a -$30 on the sign so if you didn't know your prices and not in the market for a toilet, you would never have known. By the way, this same toilet just last summer was about $159 so the price was really inflated like a lot of other items they carry over the last few months. I'm not sure if it's because of the US$ gaining on us or inflation, but I've noticed quite a few substantial price increases on their products. They slowly creep their way up on us.

So, guess what again? Today when I went, the microwave oven that I bought for $187.99 was $30 off! It's a good thing I make a habit of keeping receipts forever so I could just dig one out at anytime. I will be going to Costco for my 30 bucks before April 4th! And maybe another $30 x 3 for the toilets, too!! See, it does pays to look around sometimes!!

**TIP**Something else that people don't always think about when shopping. If an item is on coupon, your savings is only the dollar amount on the coupon after the item is taxed. Therefore, if you have a tube of toothpaste that is regular retail $1, and there is a coupon for $0.50, you will pay $0.63 in the end. When it's a price reduction and the signs show only the reduced price, you just pay tax on the reduced price. Therefore, if the toothpaste was on sale for $0.50, you would only pay $0.57. It makes a huge difference on big-ticket item.


Why I love shopping at Costco...

I love shopping at Costco. Why? There are a few reasons. One might say that it's an American company, like Walmart, so why support them? Bottom line...great savings on great products. Selection isn't always the best, but a Costcoholic like myself will usually make-do with what they offer. At times one may argue that it's cheaper at another store but that's because it may have been on sale and a loss-leader. That's different. You see, I usually will NOT go from store to store or out of my way for an item on sale. The time and effort of buckling and unbuckling carseats and dragging my kids in and out of the store just isn't worthwhile to me. I do however, shop at a handful of other stores/supermarket to pick up items of lesser quantity and items that Costco do not carry.

Last December, it was my 18th year renewing my membership. I hope they give me some kind of deal at my 20th anniversary. When I first started going to Costco, I had to drive A LONG way to get there. I would go almost every week. I was thrilled when they opened the first one about 12 years ago in our neck of the woods. Then in the past couple of years, 2 more!! The thing is, we live about equal distance from all three! I go to all of them because they do carry some different items at each store and offer different in-store savings as well. This is to entice us Costcoholics to check each one out. We fall into their traps!

My hubby had a hard time with the concept of paying for the "privilege" of shopping at their store. It does seem a little odd but it works for them. Hubby thought it was so ridiculous and that THEY should be paying HIM! It didn't take long to convert him once he saw the savings and how we could recoup the annual fee with just one item sometimes. He still thinks that they would have a larger customer base if they didn't charge an annual fee. He'll probably never be the CEO of Costco, so you'll probably be paying an annual fee for many years.

We buy most everything from groceries, clothing, gardening supplies, home decorating, heaters, appliances, linens, furniture, storage solutions, etc. from Costco. Even our carpet and blinds were shop at home and my home phone service is via Costco! I always check if Costco offers a product first since I'm there about two to three times a week anyway, before thinking up other options.

You may not get the customer service that you would get at a smaller store, but that's how they keep their prices low. I have story of when we bought about 900 square feet of the Travertine tile. Imagine how much work loading and unloading a couple of skids of about 100 boxes of 4 tiles each that weighed 52 lbs each. (They made 3 trips.) Here's a blog story in itself, but to make a long story short, nobody wanted to help even though my husband was told that if he came early enough, the night shift will help him. Nobody from the night or day shift helped.

Costco's prices are usually quite competitive. This is not to say that I buy ALL my groceries from Costco. There are just some things that my family can't eat or use a ton of. For example, I rarely need 6 romaine hearts or 10 lbs. of apples before they rot and get thrown out. For items like these, I will shop at a local grocer to buy smaller quantities. Although I hate paying half the price for just two romaine hearts, I always hear myself asking, "I don't need that much, do I?"

My husband laughs because some of the employees at the nearby Costco Warehouses recognize me. I've run into employees outside of Costco and have had conversations with them. There return policy is 100% satisfaction guaranteed on everything they sell, except a couple of years ago, they made some revisions pertaining to some of their electronics but still offer extra warranty and assistance if needed. They never give me a problem.

A couple of months ago, my husband was at the cash and paid the bill with his Amex. A typical guy who doesn't look at the prices as items are being rung through, we were charged twice but not consecutively $24.99 for Oral B toothbrush heads. I thought to myself, "How are we going to explain this one??" Well, the next day, I went there and the manager didn't even blink an eye. He said, "These things happen. Sorry about that." and the full amount was refunded to my Amex card. How about that for customer service?!

If it were up to hubby, he'd probably had let the $28.24 with tax slide thinking that they wouldn't believe him. My husband is actually embarrassed by my price adjustment requests and returns. He should know better than to be ashamed of returning something. It's obvious that it is expected that items such as clothing be returned quite frequently since they don't offer change rooms to their customers to try anything on. The employees on more than one occasion actually told me to buy something simply because as everyone knows with Costco, a lot of times, when something comes in and you don't buy it, chances are, it won't be there next time you visit. They do it themselves, too!

And last, but not least, my kids love the hot dogs, fries and poutine from their concession.

It's the Costco-Way!

Costcoholic Anna

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring has sprung at Costco

It's always a family affair. Hubby, the three children and I. No hot dog lunch though. We decided to go to The Home Depot across the street to look at some shelving first. I'm trying to put a make-shift pantry in my front foyer closet. After calculating the parts we would need to put in an adjustable wall rack shelf (you know, the ones that you screw in the strips to the wall and you purchase racks and brackets), we decided it was a no-go. It would run us over $200 and a wall with a bunch of holes (sorry hubby, I love you, but you're not as handy as I wish you were when it comes to tools). Back to lunch, we ate at Home Depot first and walked around, noticed that some BBQs were on clearance, and then looked at the shelving. Like the Costcoholic that I am, I said that I would check to see what Costco carried. Once in Costco we walked to their hardware(?) section and I saw this stainless steel shelving system. I really liked it and it was only $129. I checked the dimensions on it. I needed something under 63". Unfortunately this shelf is 72". Darn. I really liked it and it would be perfect. We couldn't figure out if the poles could be shortened or if we could just not put on the top shelf. There was no one around to help either. Hmm...Well hubby says lets get going, but I really wanted to know if we could reconfigure it to fit our space. Oh, next time.

Well, we shopped and here is what we got. Groceries:

Some things for the baby. We have many cases of diapers already but it was on sale for $12.70 off! So I picked up one case. We were running low on Cheerios, baby DT's favorite snack, so we picked up a box. Too bad it wasn't on sale. Neither was the formula but these are essentials. Now let's talk about non-essentials. You must be wondering, isn't it hard to take 3 kids shopping? Well, we always stop by the books area and pick a book for them to look at. I know, not the greatest idea since most times we end up buying it too. Well, we need our sanity and you've got to choose your battles, right? At least books are educational and a better choice than candies and cookies. We got them a Cars book. It's cute because the book has 3 tools too.

Walking around we saw that spring has sprung in the store. A couple of employees were putting the final touches on a wooden gazebo. They have patio furniture and sets laid out in the seasonal department. I am looking forward to the opening of their garden center. Look what we found: Crocs. The smallest size they had was 4/5 but was too big for Baby DT (who will be 10 months old tomorrow). The boys picked out their colours. Yellow for DC and green for DA. At $19.99/pair, I'm sure it isn't the cheapest you can get, but it sure beats shopping around.

Not pictured here is Bounty paper towels ($4.00 off) and Puffs tissue with lotion ($2.80 off). The grand total this trip: $209.74!