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!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Must Go...No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

I just had to go to Costco yesterday. Not just any Costco though. It couldn't be the Costco 10 minutes away from my home (I live in the east end) and it couldn't be the Costco across the mall in the west end of the city where I went shopping with my girlfriends. It had to be the one way out of the way - in the north end of the city, a thirty minute drive from either places in rush hour traffic. No Ifs, Ands, or Buts. My girlfriend can attest to that. We were at the mall much longer than anticipated; the next thing we knew, it was after 5pm. Well, she had dinner plans for 6pm. There was no way we could go to Costco and drive home in time for her to pick up her car. She ended up changing her dinner plans (what a great friend) so that I could make my crazy out-of-the-way run to Costco. You may be wondering, what does this location have that the others don't? Well, Costco has various roadshows and they usually make their rotations among their locations. This week, Sabra Hummus was at the north-end location. Have you ever tried it? You've got to. It's really smooth and creamy. The best hummus ever. And they have so many different flavours to choose from. They can be frozen, which I am planning to do because who knows when the next roadshow will be? If I run out before then, I guess I can pay double for it at a regular grocery market, but I'd rather not. I ended up picking up 4 containers (the price is 2 for $8.79) and gave one to my friend. I also picked up a bag of Stacy's pita chips. They're great and even at a hefty $5.99 a bag, it's still much cheaper than the regular grocery market. I love buying in bulk. Yes, I'm a true Costcoholic, a crazy one that's for sure.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Costco - March 20, 2009

Swung by Costco today to pick up a few things for my son's 10th birthday party tomorrow. We are having about 30 people for dinner. Costco didn't have an entire prime rib roast so I picked up the biggest one they had which was about four ribs. I usually like to buy the entire rack which is about seven but I didn't have time to be runnning around. The price seemed quite reasonable.
I also picked up two t-shirts for my sister. I had bought two a couple of weeks ago and I told her how comfy they were and at a great price of S10.99. I love the pink.
The kids love mandarin oranges so for a special treat I bought these...on sale $2 off.
Our big purchase was this bike for the birthday boy. My sister had actually bought the same one for her son and it was on sale for $139...$30 off. It looks like a good and sturdy bike.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I got off easy today! Last Friday? That's another story...

The purpose of today's run was to pick up a few pictures from my friend's 40th birthday party last night. That cost around $9. But I also knew I needed milk. After almost 20 years as a Costco member, I've finally figured out why the milk is placed at the back of the store - so suckers like me can walk up the isles while passing all the good deals in the end display units and pick up things that are a "good idea" or a "great deal" or "SO NICE!" So, unless you're a horse and go through the store with blinders, you can NEVER get out of their with the one or two intended items.

I ended up with evaporated milk, Montreal steak spice, Dove condition at a great price ($5.99), whipping cream, a 12-pack of YOP (darn things were on coupon! At least they're healthy), KS seasoning salt, a package each of chicken wings and ground pork and of course, my bag of milk. I do NEED these things, but did I REALLY need them NOW?? Probably not, but that's the Costco-Way, right? So, $69.16 later, this is after I spent over $100 at a regular grocery store over the last couple of days is not too bad, I guess.

Another Story...

On Friday, I wasn't so lucky. What the heck did I go in for again, coming out $361.79 later? Oh yeah, the microwave to replace the friggin smokin' dead one. Then I needed a few t-shirts for summer since the weather was begging me to put something on a little cooler, so 4 of those in different colors went in the cart, the Tropicana OJ was $2.50 lower than usual without a coupon, flour, Chipits, garlic, Quaker Chewey bars were $2 off so I HAD to get two boxes, blueberries, eggs, frozen mixed berries (price has gone up to $15/bag!), and a gigantic container of garlic for the upcoming bbq season. What the he**? I didn't think my bill was more than $200 with the microwave! That's the Costco-Way!

Is it just me or is it that the price of groceries have gone WAY up over the last year?

PS. I noticed the price of the Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Brownies went up to $7.99 from $6.29 today. I think this is the result of the Sam's Club closing up. No more competition!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just the bare essentials and a clearout

I haven't been to Costco with the husband and kids in over a week. My eldest son loves their hot dogs. Actually, he appends the words "hot dog" to Costco. Whenever we tell him we're going there he replies "Hot dog Costco?" We always eat before we shop so that we don't have grumpy, hungry children and so that we don't buy and sample everything in sight.I had baked cookies this morning and I guess the boys had their fill on them because when we sat down to eat our fries and hot dogs, my son played with the cut-up pieces.

The main purpose of this trip was to get milk and eggs. I remembered to pick up some Polysporin. I realized we didn't have any at home when I needed it for the nice burn I got from making pizza in the oven last week. The husband also picked up some Ibuprofen a la Kirkland as well as some doggie treats.

On checking out I noticed the Kashi cereal. I like this cereal and I actually have an unopened box of it at home. But wait, it's in the clearout's $3.97! I paid close to $8.00 last time. I looked at the date: Oct 2009. I could eat both boxes by then, no problem. So I put it in my cart.

And the most surprising part of the whole trip? That my bill only came up to $65. That almost never happens.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kirkland brand Ibuprofen

Haha...I beat my other Costcoholics and now I have the honour of being the first one to post! I just dropped into Costco for about 20 minutes this morning because my friend wanted to return something from our last trip. I have to admit that I do love going to Costco...even just to browse. I am a regular there.
This morning one of my favourite Costco employees was manning the door and he even gave me a hug. Is that weird? Weird that I know his name? Or weird that we hugged? Hey they are so friendly there and ever so helpful.
Anyway, this is all I bought...a king sized bottle of Ibuprofen. Kirkland brand. I trust it because it is Costco's brand name. I needed this because it's Spring Break next week and I know that with all the fighting, screaming and crying that I will be popping these babies like candy.