10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco
The first Costco location (then called Price Club) opened in 1976 inside a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, California. The original business model was to serve only businesses, offering bulk products at discounted prices. The company quickly realized it could increase its sales by offering memberships to a select group of non-business owners. (See also: Things You Didn’t Know You Could Buy in Bulk)
The early 1980s saw the boom of the warehouse club industry. In 1983, the first Costco warehouse store opened in Seattle, Washington and in that year, the company became the first ever to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in under six years. As of November 2013, the company has over six hundred locations across the United States and boasts of over 71.2 million membership cardholders.
The amazing part of the Costco story isn't just the rapid growth but the myriad of different products and services the company offers to its members. People think Costco and the first images which spring to mind are garbage can sized pickle jars and packages of enough bathroom tissue to TP the homes of the entire state of Maine. Sure, those products are available, along with window blinds, snow plows, and a chance to shake hands with author Mitch Albom. (See also: Things You Should Buy at Costco)
As these benefits will prove, a Costco membership does have its privileges. Here are some things you might not expect to buy at Costco.
While most of the world hates the feeling of semi-confinement in half walls the cubicle could serve a purpose in the typical family home. Suppose mom or dad works from home and needs a designated office space but doesn't have an extra room to devote to a home office? Suppose the kids need a quiet and self-contained area to work on homework or other projects that cuts down on the distractions of television or other family members? Why not consider a home cubicle?
2. Funeral Supplies
No one wants to plan a funeral, but sadly, it's a part of life. If you've been lucky enough to avoid funeral planning in your life so far, you've probably got little idea as to how expensive the entire ordeal can be. Between the casket, the flowers, and all the odds an ends, dying costs an incredible amount of money. The time constraints and mental anguish of burying a loved one also cause people to make quick, often costly, decisions just to get the entire ordeal over with. Though it is a bit morbid, planning ahead for a funeral is often the most cost effective plan, and it saves loved ones from the uncomfortable task once you've kicked the bucket. Costco has an entire funeral section. Now you're just going to need to make room in the basement to store your casket. (See also: Tech Tools for Planning Your Death)
3. Autographed Books
Every Costco location offers a library of new and old books at discounted prices. There are titles to suit almost every bibliophile including hardcover, paperback, and even children's books. Many Costco locations even host author book readings and signings. Review this handy list of upcoming author events at various Costco locations across the United States to find out when your favorite author is visiting.
Costco doesn't have cars in their stores (at least none we know about), but they do offer an auto buying program to members. The Costco Auto Program is designed to save people time and hassle when buying a new or pre-owned car. It's pretty simple — members can submit a request via the Costco Auto website. Costco will search your specific area and direct you to one of the 3,000 participating dealers closest to your area. Choose your dealer, visit the lot, and choose the car you want. Show the dealer your Costco membership card, and you'll receive the special price. Costco attempts to eliminate the uncomfortable haggling that comes with buying a car. (See also: Websites You Must Visit When Buying a New Car)
5. Gym Memberships
Your local gym is offering deals on memberships but it feels as though there is always a catch. Sure, the rates are decent, but how does a person really know they're getting a deal? If they purchase a membership using their Costco card, they can be sure. Gym membership deals are available at an assortment of clubs and spas across the US. All a member has to do is purchase a gym membership through the Costco website, print out the certificate, and bring it to the participating gym with proper ID; and you'll be sweating it out on a treadmill in no time. (See also: Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free)
6. Snow Plows
The winter is always an unpredictable beast. One day it's unseasonably warm, and the next a foot of snow is dumped on your doorstep. Some areas of the United States get so much snow over the course of the year, it's much more cost effective (and easier on the back) to attach a snow plow to the truck and dig out the driveway. Anyone interested in a snow plow doesn't have to deal with a special vendor can just head on down to Costco. They even offer plows for sale online. Wouldn't it be ironic if the delivery of your snow plow was delayed because of snow?
7. Small Business Services
Are you looking to run your small business more efficiently? Why not get help from the place where you already buy a ton of your office supplies? Costco offers an incredible assortment of services to the small business owner almost as important as packages of bulk toilet paper. The services include merchant credit card processing, water delivery, business document set-up, health and dental plans, payroll services, and even 401(k) plans.
8. Vacation Packages
Sometimes a person needs a vacation just from planning a vacation. Hotel reservations, air travel bookings, and itinerary planning — vacation planning is best left to someone else. Why not Costco? Not only will they help plan a vacation and handle everything from air travel and car rental to hotel booking, theme park visits, and cruises; but Costco members receive a discount from participating destinations and resorts. They even have travel experts on call 24/7 to book your vacation at your own convenience. (See also: How to Book a Vacation Package)
9. $63,000 Engagement Rings
We knew that Costco carried jewelry, but we had no idea that not only did they offer engagement rings, but a $63,000 engagement ring. The ring is actually worth close to $93,000, but Costco members get the insane discount. We're not sure which will raise more eyebrows — the stunning ring, the actual and retail prices, or the fact it was purchased at discount warehouse store.
10. Emergency Food Kits
If the world has hopefully learned one lesson these past few years, it's that the entire Earth is at the will of Mother Nature. From tsunamis to superstorms to multiple feet of snow, it's important to be prepared in case of any emergency. The Costco website devotes an entire section to emergency preparation. This includes not only food and beverage options but first aid kits and powdered beverages. If you're really serious about prepping for the end of civilization (because you just never know), Costco offers deals on an entire year of food rations for four people and a water storage system because fresh water is key to survival.
What surprising things have you found at your local Costco? Share with us in comments!