Costco is well known for its bargain prices; but there are many little-known facts that even die hard Costco consumers are unaware of. For example, Costco is so popular that it doesn’t even need to advertise – its millions of members do that for them with simple word of mouth. Costco has its own magazine that’s doing better than even some of the more well known brands, with well over 8 million subscribers. Its pizza is so delicious and sells so well that it is considered one of the top pizzerias – in all of the United States. Non members can shop there to score some of its better deals, from top shelf wines to low cost prescriptions. The aisles in their stores aren’t labeled – on purpose, to encourage shoppers to purchase even more items – and it works all too well. Their wine, which many would dismiss as cheap and convenient, is actually some of the best wine in the country. Costco also sells cars – quite a number of them, and partners with car dealers to do so.
Are you intrigued? Keep reading for 15 little-known facts about Costco – many of them will surprise you.
15. It doesn’t advertise
Given how popular Costco has become, it should come as no surprise that they don’t have to advertise, which is good business, because no advertising equals not having to spend on advertising — keeping costs low. The extent of its advertising, if you can call it that, is to send out deals and coupons to members. Its millions of members just use good old fashioned word of mouth, and Costco can sit back and rake in the cash. And it looks like their method works — over 90 percent of its members in both the US and Canada renewed their membership in 2015, and the number of new members continues to grow.
14. It has a magazine that reaches over 8 million people
It turns out that Costco dominates more than just the retailing space — it also has a place in the consumer publishing world as well. Many people, even Costco devotees, don’t know that Costco has its very own magazine, one with a reach over of 8 million subscribers. In fact, Costco Connection, the name of the retailer’s official magazine, has the largest circulation in the U.S. Costco Connection features recipes, how-to articles, celebrity interviews, and unsurprisingly, coupons. The magazine is available in both print and digital format — it even has an app for both iPhone and Android users.
13. It ranks among the top 20 US pizza chains
Not only is Costco a great place for bargains — which most of us already know — it is an excellent pizzeria. So excellent, in fact, that it ranks amongst the top 20 U.S. Pizza chains. At only $2 a slice, customers can enjoy the array of flavors in Coscto pizzas. For example, the combo slices feature pepperoni and cheese are insanely delicious for the low price. There’s even a savory sausage pizza. It even sells pizza ovens, for those of you who want to recreate the magic at home. So the next time you’re hankering for a slice — head out to your local Costco instead.
12. You can shop there without a membership
The Costco membership card can seem like a Holy Grail item for those who have never shopped there — even though signing up and getting a membership card is a relatively simple process. But did you know that you can shop at Costco — and buy some of their best products — without a membership card? Yep, if you live in certain states, you can purchase alcohol at Costco without a card, even the highly rated Kirkland Signature wines. You can even use the pharmacy without a membership card — and the retail giant has some of the best prescription prices hands down.
11. The aisles aren’t labeled — on purpose
Ever been in a Costco and gotten completely lost while looking for toilet paper or wine? Well, it turns out they want you to get lost on purpose. The aisles in Costco stores aren’t labelled — on purpose. Now, this is for a purely psychological reason. As you’re searching for the toilet paper, you’ll pass down the Ziploc bag aisle and realize that you’re running low. Or while you’re looking for bread, you’ll pass by crates of juice that your kid has been hankering for. This process works very well, as shoppers end up buying more than they initially came in for.
10. The wine is of surprisingly high quality
Most of us tend to assume that cheap equals low quality — but that isn’t always the case. Take, for example, the Kirkland Signature alcohol products at Costco. Because its a store brand, many shoppers probably eschew them for this product for fancier and well known names. But Costco’s name brand wine actually uses premium wine from quality vintners, selling it to their consumers for very low prices. In fact, as the largest alcohol retailer in the U.S., Costco can sell for however low it wants. So choose a Costco wine over that $200 bottle for your next party or get together.
9. It sells cars
Costco doesn’t stop at selling useful household items, food, and alcohol. Did you know that Costco sells cars? Well, they do — and a lot of them. The company is an intermediary between the customer and the dealer. In 2014, they sold nearly 400,000 of them. In 2015, they sold over 465,000 of them. Their car sales rank them with Penske Automotive Group and AutoNation. In 2016, Costco partnered up with General Motors to sell even more cars. So if you’re in the market for a car, why not skip the local dealership and go to Costco? It’s likely that you’ll score one of their deals — only this time on a larger scale.
8. They sell more hot dogs than all the Major League Baseball stadiums combined
Costco sells a lot of hot dogs — a lot of them. You know how popular hot dogs are at Major League Baseball games, right? Well combine all of the hot dogs purchased at all of their stadiums — and Costco sells even more of them. This probably has to do with the fact that they are cheap and delicious — like the pizza Costco is famous for. The dog serves as a useful and effective loss leader in getting people into their doors — and purchasing their products.
7. They’ve kept some prices locked for 30 years
Speaking of those delicious hot dogs and slices of pizza, did you know that they’ve been the same price for nearly thirty years? The hot dog and drink deal has remained the same since the mid 80s. It’s true, and they apparently have no intention of raising the prices. Same with the $4.99 rotisserie chicken, of which they sold 76 million in 2014. But Costco’s business philosophy of low prices keeps those prices locked, and as long as customers gobble their low cost products up by the millions, they’re likely to stick to the same routine. Why stop what’s working so well?
6. Their samples are unlimited
Ah, the samples at Costco, the highlight of many a shopping trip there. There are usually all types of savory sample foods to try. But did you know that you can get unlimited food samples at Costco? If you’re feeling especially frugal — and hungry — show up at Costco and load up your plate. The samples are truly unlimited. For example, their are often snack carts loaded with pretzels. The appetizer carts range from mozzarella balls to other delicious and savory bite-sized snacks. And then there’s the actual meal carts, often loaded with filling veggie burgers, and you can take as many as you please.
5. A Costco membership card works as ID
We’ve all been there. You’re in such a rush to get to your destination that you forget to pack your ID. Well, if you have a Costco membership card on you, you’re in luck. The TSA will accept your membership card as proof of identity. Keep in mind that you won’t be completely out of the clear — you may have to get one of those infamous pat downs or even a swab test if you enter the airport with anything other than your license. But still, this little known fact will definitely get you out of a bind if you find yourself stuck at the airport with no ID.
4. They have horse and buggy parking
Costco is pretty good about catering to its customers — all of its customers. They are so accommodating that they even have horse and buggy parking. Lancaster, Pennsylvania has a high population of Amish, and its the country’s oldest Amish settlement. There is also a Costco there. To allow its Amish customers to have a convenient place to park their horses, it installed a livestock parking stall at its store there. The stall has a rail where visitors can tie their horses, along with a roof to shield them from rain, snow and other bad weather.
3. It had to recall a punching bag filled with dirty underwear
Back in 2007, Costco had a rare misstep. It sold punching bags made by a company called TKO, In. Well, apparently one of these bags weren’t filled with sand — they were filled with men and women’s underwear. And not clean underwear. A family in Cincinnati found bras, bathing suits and even thongs inside one of the punching bags. Now how this happened is anyone’s guess. But Costco immediately sent out a public recall notice. Any consumer who purchased the punching bag received a hopefully underwear free replacement bag, along with a shipping label to send the oddly placed laundry back.
2. It once labeled the Bible as fiction
Costco was once involved in a rare case of controversy. Back in November 2013, a pastor from Simi Valley, Caleb Kaltenbach, who is the lead pastor at Discovery Church in southern California, made a trip to his local Costco. He was looking for a present for his wife. But As he browsed, something caught his eye. The copies of the Bible were labeled as fiction, specifically — $14.99 Fiction. Costco officially declared it a labeling error, though allegedly it is not the first time their stores have labeled the Bible as fiction (they’ve even labeled a fake memoir from fake newscaster Ron Burgundy as fiction).
1. It offers funeral necessities
As a retailer that offers everything from food to clothing to top shelf wine, it really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Costco’s offers of savings doesn’t end with the grave. It doesn’t, because they offer a variety of funeral necessities — all at a decent bargain. This includes urns, flowers and caskets. You can even have the coffin shipped to the mortuary of your choosing. Their offerings must be pretty popular with consumers, as Costco is very clear about the fact that they are not a licensed funeral home and do not perform funeral services.
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