Thursday, April 8, 2010


I'm a good suburban housewife.  Every week, I trek down to Central West Plaza in my trackies and fulfill my household duties by filling a trolley at Aldi.  Each week, though, a gnawing feeling grows, til I give in to the call... to a swish penthouse, right on the waterfront, where my American lover awaits!

OK - more like squats.  And he's kind of more on the dirty canal, under the freeway.  Yes, it's Costco!  The American big-box behemoth landed in Melbourne last August.  As a certified grocery-geek, I was insanely excited, as I was sure Costco would undercut Aldi's already crazily low prices.  Costco advertise that they stick to a predetermined, very narrow profit margin, and make most of their money off their $60 p/a membership fee.

Unfortunately, the savings weren't as wild as I had first imagined.  Costco carries mainly premium brands, which even at a reduced price, aren't always cheaper than Aldi.  Their range is also strangely limited for such an enormous store - usually just one or two choices per category.

However, I make back my money and then some just in washing powder - $180 per year at Costco versus $300 at Coles for OMO Front Loader.  (Yes, I know it's not "green" - but when you need to get vomit, poo and bolognese sauce off a jumpsuit, applied not necessarily in that order, it is the only thing that works.  Trust me, I have tried everything else!)  I've gotten over my initial disappointment that Costco was not the second coming, and started to appreciate that in some categories, there are bargains to be had. 

For example:

Red Island Australian extra virgin olive oil $25.9/4 L
Frozen blueberries $5.49/1 kg
18-pack free range eggs $4.49
Maple syrup $17.39/946 ml
Lavazza coffee $6.50/500g
Four-cheese ravioli [100% all natural ingredients] $12.99/1.8 kg
Viva paper towels $14.99/12 rolls
Milk $2.79/3 L

Crunch those numbers people!  I regularly see people wandering about Costco saying to one another, "$24.99...  Is that cheap?  What do you think?"  You gots to have a price list!  Or if you are like me - a price comparison spreadsheet!  (Yes - tragic.  I know.)  As a result, I still do 80% of my shopping at Footscray Market and Aldi, with a few select items from Costco and Coles.

I should mention we are the only people we know who are members.  Costco seems to inspire everything from indifference to disgust.  I know they are big, but really, it's just like shopping at a Coles or Aldi distribution centre, I would imagine.  I do think some things are just silly - 15-pack of grossly over-iced cupcakes, anyone?  Pizza too big to fit in your oven?  Some varieties of fruit and veg are largely unusable for retail customers, as they are prepackaged in enormous portions.  Still, a kilo of strawberries for $8 is very quickly demolished in our house.

Look, ma, funny American food!  At least they are offering a "meat pie" for the natives.  Blech!

Other fun times at Costco include spotting Cake Wrecks:

Nothing says happy birthday like a cowboy and a frog with no face.

And, fellow parents, HOW SWEET IT IS to strap BOTH your little darlings into the shopping trolley!!!  Browse in peace with no one running around, grabbing things off shelves, chucking tanties and "hiding" in inappropriate places.

What's that?

Oh yes... I forgot.  I actually have three children.


381 Footscray Rd, Docklands (map)
Phone: (03) 8602 0300


  1. Grocery-geek, love it! I'm pretty sure that's me too! Love the post. I've been hanging out to have a look at the place, just don't want to pay $60 to do so. Love the pics of the trolley kids and the hidey child!

  2. Two kids in one trolley?! What an age we live in! And eeek I love supermarkets (insane, I know) so Costco is like a dream for me. Unfortunately, I live by myself so there's no real point in getting a membership...except I REALLY want one. An aunt got me a 30-pack of kinder bueno from here. It lasted like..a week.

  3. I sign up when they first open last year. Been there in a total of 3 times and made 2 purchases. Should go back soon to apply for the membership refund.

    I did like their greasy canteen food.

  4. A friend and I stepped into costco using his brothers card. Although we weren't able to but anything, we just wanted a peak. A few items were tempting but not worth getting a membership over. More suited to a family or perhaps a house with a few flatmates

  5. Deb - grocery geeks unite! I do think it's dumb they don't at least give you one free pass to just have a look around, before you commit to purchasing a membership. You can get it refunded any time, though.

    Vee - I love supermarkets too! I find them relaxing. Always thought I was just weird... maybe there's a secret community of us out there.

    Hung - I am ashamed to say I have eaten the greasy canteen food - I was pining after the hot dog carts of NY and DC, but Costco's dog just left me with a bad case of the burps.

    Adrian - I agree, it's not worth it if you're a single individual, or even a couple... unless you like Kinder Bueno...

  6. This has nothing to do with this post, but thought you might find it interesting, Ethiopian Festival at the Immigration Museum Sun 18 April

  7. Hi Deb - a few people have told me about that, but I'm working! Devastated.

  8. Hi Deb,
    Not sure if you know but there is a company that sells Costco items online and then delivers to anywhere in Melbourne. Costco originally became successful by selling to small and medium sized business who are the main users of this site. But anyone can buy here and it's free to join.


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