- People are obsessed with Costco for many reasons.
- The membership-based warehouse store sells a variety of items in bulk. It also carries its own in-house brand – Kirkland Signature – which helps keep prices low.
- We talked six die-hard Costco fanatics to hear why they love warehouse store. One member with the highest tier of membership, Gold Star Executive, even got a tattoo of the Kirkland Signature brand on his arm.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Every brand has its devotees, but Costco fanatics are on another level.
When Costco opened its first store in China last month, overwhelming crowds forced the store to be shut down on opening day. A similar situation happened in Iceland in 2017, when search-and-rescue teams were employed to manage the crowds on opening day.
Admittedly, it isn’t hard to love the warehouse store that is estimated to have over 90 million card-holding members. Costco offers an exclusive shopping experience for its members, which includes anything you could ever need to live comfortably – and it’s all in bulk.
Selling everything from engagement rings to groceries, Costco is the master at giving shoppers the best bang for their buck. Plus, its in-house Kirkland Signature brand drives prices down even more, which further endears the company in the hearts of its shoppers.
But for many Costco frequenters, the store is more than a place to pick up value products.
“I think all of the people who have weird attachments to Costco have a pretty similar story,” said Max Ellinger, a Costco loyalist who lives on the West Coast. He loves Costco so much he got a tattoo of the Kirkland Signature logo on his arm.
Ellinger says he frequents Costco about three times a week and even had his birthday party in a Costco food court in 2015.
He’s a Gold Star Executive member, a higher tier of membership which is double what a regular Gold Star membership costs at $US120 a year. It offers 2% cash back on purchases, as well as special deals on some Costco services.
Ellinger is in good company when it comes to Costco appreciation. There are websites and blogs solely devoted to people talking about the warehouse. One website, Costco Insider, has hundreds of thousands of monthly users. The founder started the website out of a love for Costco almost 10 years ago and as a way to tell people about the deals the store.
Business Insider talked to six Costco lovers and discovered five main reasons that people fall in love with the warehouse store. Some names and surnames have been withheld at members’ request to protect their identity.
1. Low Prices
The low prices are probably Costco’s main appeal.
“There are not many instances in one’s adult life in which you can drop $US150 to $US300 in a shopping trip and feel like you got a great deal on a wide variety of items,” said Dan, a Costco fanatic from Los Angeles who lists himself as an executive member of Costco on his Facebook profile.
A lot of Costco members agree that to make the membership fee worth it – $US60 for a basic Gold Star membership and $US120 for a Gold Star Executive one – shoppers should spend between $US3,000 and $US4,000 a year.
A Colorado-based executive member agreed that the good products at low prices are one of Costco’s main draws.
“That’s the bottom-line reason we’d shop anywhere and Costco delivers on this more than most,” they said.
2. Food Court
Most Costco fanatics agree that the in-house food court is one of the best features of the store.
“I used to go there when I worked and eat a salad for lunch at least once a week.” said the Costco fanatic from Colorado, who praised the quality of the food as well as the low prices.
For young kids, the food court at Costco is especially exciting. “You can get pizza or a hotdog, or a soda and ice cream,” said Matt, founder and editor of Costco Insider, a website that lets users know about upcoming deals and changes in Costco stores across the US. “And so there’s a lot of food that parents are willing to buy because it’s super cheap and it’s convenient and kids love it.”
Denise, a mother of four who started a Facebook group for Costco fanatics in California and Nevada, said the food court is one of her favourite features of Costco.
“[It’s the] cheapest dinner, lunch I can get my kids,” she said. “I can feed all of us for $US12!”
3. Kirkland Signature products
Costco’s in-house Kirkland Signature brand goes hand-in-hand with its low prices.
Ellinger refers to products from the brand as “the fruit of Costco.”
The Kirkland brand appeals to people who want affordable products with a guarantee of quality. The brand includes food, shampoo, clothes, and more.
“I love the Kirkland brands!” Denise, who said she has purchased Kirkland diapers and underwear for her kids.
Denise, like other Costco-lovers, also appreciates the return policy associated with Kirkland and other Costco products, which guarantees satisfaction or your money back.
Dan, the Los Angeles Costco fan, also praised Kirkland Signature goods, though he mentioned he has a limit: “The only thing I can’t bring myself to purchase are Kirkland Signature pants.”
4. Free samples
Costco’s free samples in its food sections are a huge crowd-pleaser.
Matt from Costco Insider takes his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter to Costco regularly and finds the free samples to be extremely helpful. “It’s great for me as a parent because I can have her try a bunch of different foods that she’s never tried before and find out what she likes before I buy it.”
Denise, also a parent, agreed that the samples are great and delicious.
Even for people without kids, members say the free samples are a nice in-store treat.
5. General atmosphere
Shopping features aside, there is something more to Costco that cultivates such a loyal fan-base.
“Costco relaxes my soul,” said John, the founder of the I love Costco blog. And he’s not alone in his sentiment.
“I do love that everyone at Costco appears to be relaxed humans,” said Ellinger. “I love overhearing a weird personal conversation between two employees unloading a box and knowing that Costco is a safe space for people to just be people.”
With such a large selection, Costco has the ability to permeate every sector of life. Matt from Costco Insider proposed to his wife with an engagement ring from the warehouse store. Ellinger had a birthday party in the Costco food court and once took a date on a trip to the warehouse.
At its core, however, Costco is still just a store, selling everything one could need to survive in bulk.
And for many fanatics, that much is enough. As a Colorado fanatic put it: “Who wouldn’t love that?”
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