Last weekend, I went shopping at Costco with my mom and noticed the differences in the way we shop. As a 20-something, my approach to the Costco experience greatly differs from that of an empty-nester parent, or the typical customer, a parent with three children whose family actually will consume that four-pound bag of trail mix within the next two weeks. Below are a few key things to remember if you’re planning to purchase a Costco membership as a 20-something, along with a few pro tips.
1. Buy a joint membership.
A Costco membership is perfect for the 20-something living with a roommate(s). Not only will it be much easier to finish the pound of blueberries you bought before they go bad in three days, but you can split the membership fee. The only catch here is that membership fees are annual, so you want to split with someone who will be in your life for a while. Think of splitting with your roommate who’s locked into a yearlong lease, and avoid purchasing a membership for your significant other for your three-month anniversary (Bae, we can do date night at the food court!).
2. The Costco food court is LIFE.
Speaking of the Costco food court, while not the ideal date spot, it IS the ideal snack spot. Their food is so cheap — $1.99 for a slice of pizza the size of your head? $1.50 hot dog meal combo?! This place makes a baseball stadium look bougie. Indulge often. You can head to the treadmill section of the store later.
3. No fake IDs.
Unlike at your favorite college bar, using fake identification at Costco is strictly forbidden. You might think you’ve gotten away with savings when nobody stops you at the entrance, but PRO TIP #1: They actually look at the picture on the back of your card when you’re at the register. Don’t be like my friend, who pulled a Benjamin Button by using her mom’s Costco ID and telling the cashier, “It’s an old picture of me.” However, if you ARE banned from making purchases, you’re still allowed to get pizza. Small victories.
4. When making questionable purchases, don’t buy in bulk.
My college roommate said this to me after buying a 12-pack of store-brand diet grape soda, and the words stuck with me. They ESPECIALLY resonate when shopping at Costco. Some of the more questionable purchase decisions here include:
Produce: unless you’re vegan AND a competitive eater, you’ll never finish it before it goes bad.
Vodka: Costco vodka is as bad as it sounds.
That “Extreme Blender” that an employee is always using in a demonstration: even if you go thirdsies with your roommates, it’s still too expensive.
Canned anything: Do you run a sandwich shop? No? Put down the tuna. You’re going to get mercury poisoning.
5. Sample strategically.
Let’s be honest, the samples are a HUGE factor in your visit to Costco, but you have to play it cool. Don’t hit up different stations back to back like they’re race checkpoints, and actually pretend like you’re interested in the product they’re offering. Check out at least two additional displays before going to the next sample station. Also, Pro Tip #2: There are significantly more samples offered on weekends (though there are also significantly more screaming children, so I guess it’s basically a draw).