In late July, Costco Wholesale opened its second Australian store to great fanfare in the western Sydney suburb of Auburn.
With so much hype around one supermarket warehouse opening, I decided to make the 40 minute drive over to Auburn to find out what the fuss was all about.
First impressions: the car park
There are 2 levels of parking with 750 car spaces inside Costco, but both were full within one hour of opening on Sunday. Within 1.5 hours, the Police closed off the car park and cars banked up Parramatta Road.
Tip: Park in the Lidcombe Power Centre car park on the other side of Parramatta Road.
First thing’s first: there’s food
There is a mini food court at Costco just before you walk in. It sells hot dogs and soft drink with unlimited refills for just $2.40, and big American style pizza slices for only $2.99. If you are very hungry, why not just buy the entire 16″ pizza for only $14.99?
Tip: Eat up before you trek inside. You’re in for a long walk.
Next surprise: the size of the warehouse
You gasp as you begin to realise just how massive the 14,000 sq m Costco warehouse is. It took us over 3 hours to walk the entire warehouse without stopping. The warehouse is packed full of anything you could possibly imagine.
Everything is available to buy from household electronics, appliances, glasses, hearings aids, gym equipment, outdoor items, pet’s goods, clothes, books and hardware to basic foodstuffs that you would find in your supermarket.
My views on Costco
But here’s the catch: Costco works on the model of bulk buying, and this is where Costco may not be for everyone. For example, toilet paper comes in packs of 32, apple pies are 2kgs in size, muffins are in packs of 12, you get two whole chickens instead of one, the pizzas are 16″ in diameter, tea bags come in packs of 300, and so on. That’s where you will need to decide from a cost vs benefit analysis whether or not it works for you.
Also, I did notice that many items that Costco sells, including its meat and fresh produce, are within days of their “best before” date. In other words, to compound the problem of item size, you must also eat it fairly quickly or have a decent sized freezer to store it all.
So, is it worth coming here to shop? Well, my opinion is if you start a cooperative and share the spoils of Costco with your friends and family, then it may well be worth it. For a family that doesn’t eat much, then I’m not so sure. Having said that, the non-food items are quite reasonably priced, so maybe some savings can be had there.
The question worth asking is: Do you want to get back your $60 annual membership within a year, or are you just in for the novelty?
Check out my pictures taken from inside the store:
Lastly, a bit of history… from Wikipedia
Costco Wholesale Corporation is an American membership warehouse club chain founded in Kirkland, Washington in 1983. Now it is the third largest retailer in the United States employing close to 150,000 people. Costco’s sales model is based on a low price high volume strategy, which results in bulk buying, typically from a limited amount of brands. The use of warehouses also reduces costs.