One of the few places I enjoyed shopping retail was at Costco. I use the word enjoyed in the past tense because I canceled my Costco Executive Membership and I doubt I will ever go back to renew. Let me tell you why…
Let’s cover what I liked about Costco. First, the store parking lot is usually very clean and I loved the extra wide parking spaces, it surprises me that other retailers don’t do this, especially SAMS when their parking lots are huge and always empty.
Inside the store, what Costco did very well was carefully curate the products and services that tend to offer the best value. The expensive items I’ve bought at Costco include TVs and other electronics and vacations such as cruises. I always found the value exceptional which is perhaps why I was a member for well over a decade but things have changed.
The worst thing that has happened to Costco, and perhaps not their fault, is inflation. The membership fee went up and it became harder and harder to justify that fee for my family. Speaking of family, our kids grew up, moved out and went off to college. Right now, it’s just my wife and I that live at home and we no longer need to buy items in bulk. Costco’s biggest issue for us is the huge quantities of items. It’s not bad for paper towels or laundry detergent but buying a case of beans or 40 lbs bags of rice is just too much for two people. Costco if you want us back consider opening a mini-Costco with smaller sizes.
The straw that broke the Costco’s membership back though was an amalgamation of things. First, driving to Costco became more and more stressful. The Costco parking lot is almost always full. Second, the shopping experience deteriorated where there are never enough check out slots and there are almost always long lines to check out and exit the “receipt check” line. And the ugliest thing is the explosion of cost, I used to buy the 24 pack of green tea for $9.99 for years and not it sells for double that price. Almost everything seemed to have doubled in cost and since its in bulk, we just can’t afford the waste anymore.
The Alternative – Instacart
Instacart recently went public via IPO and I am considering buying some shares because I love their service. Just yesterday I ordered some bulk items from Costco via Instacart and I didn’t need membership. More importantly, the items were delivered to my door so no driving or parking stress; no waiting in long lines stress; no snooty receipt checker delays. Yes, the items were a bit more expensive but since I didn’t have to drive there and incur stress, it was well worth it to spend a few bucks more to avoid the whole fiasco.
The killer thing about Instacart however is that it’s not limited to Costco. I can order items from CVS, Walgreens, Target, Family Dollar, Total Wine, Sam’s Club, a bunch of grocery stores and many other retailers. Essentially, Instacart is my local Amazon.com!
I am thinking of signing up for Instacart+ which costs $99 but reduces the delivery fee to $0 on orders of $35 or more but becoming empty-nesters, I’m not sure I even need that many things delivered to our home.
This is another opportunity to outsource some things in life.