Friday, November 14, 2008


Earlier this year I spent several months selecting my perfect laptop purchase. After I decided which model I wanted, I found the best price at Costco, even with the $50 membership fee. I ordered my computer online and my membership credentials were mailed to me with a twenty dollar gift card, bringing my membership cost down to only thirty dollars.

Every month or so, I am mailed a booklet full of useful coupons. The disadvantage to this relationship is that the closest Costco is in Raleigh. I personally don’t mind this because I will take any and every opportunity to go to Raleigh. I once had the privilege of residing in Wake County. Those ten years were a reprieve from my thirty-eight years in Fayetteville. I would still be in Raleigh if …oops, love ya, honey, didn’t know you were reading this!

Costco at first glance seems to be a kissing cousin of Sam’s Club. Upon further inspection you’ll find that although they both are huge stores with jumbo sizes of everything from olives to laundry detergent, Costco outshines Sam’s in their product selection, store appearance, and courteous staff.

I should stop right now and confess----I despise Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. Until I started catering in 2000, I had spent very little time in either one. My business partner convinced me that more profit could be made for our small venture by shopping these stores. She was right, but since I am no longer in this business, I limit my exposure to the Sam Walton dynasty. I like a certain dog food at Sam’s (that takes my little girls about two months to consume) and their meat department is good. I also think the photo shop does a great job, but don’t hold your breath on the hour processing time or you’ll be blue in the face.

Costco, on the other hand, is a delightful adventure. I find their stores very clean and neatly organized, and yes, I have visited other Costco stores. The quality of the food is outstanding. The bakery offers items freshly baked on site as well as items packaged from vendors such as the Atlanta Bread Company. A plethora of cheeses, meats, and prepared entrees and salads await your approval in the deli area. A special extra chilly room offers a wide and exotic selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and special salad mixes. I especially like the Parisian blend that includes a fancy lettuce mix, dried cranberries, almonds, feta cheese, and white balsamic vinaigrette. The frozen foods and dry goods sections of the store are as well stocked and varied as the fresh foods. This is the only store where I can find cases of FUZE, Nick’s answer to avoiding Diet Cokes.

In addition to foods of all types, Costco sell books, music, health and beauty items, furniture, appliances, and electronics. They even sell hearing aids and that’s just in the store, online you will find even more choices, and most posted prices include shipping costs. The selection and quality of merchandise is exceptional, but when you come to the checkout counter, a clerk will unload your items onto the conveyor belt, something that rarely happens at Sam’s Club. I have found the staff at Costco to be very helpful and friendly.

After leaving the store, but before exiting the parking lot, check your gas gauge. The other week at $2.42, Costco had the lowest price per gallon on gas that I saw in Raleigh. (See my photo of the long, but fast line). While you may not net a lot of savings by driving to Raleigh for Costco shopping, if you’re already there, this is a great store.

Costco is on Old Wake Forest Rd, at the Six Forks Rd. intersection.