Well, we weren’t even in Sydney for two weeks before we had to head straight to Costco. I think we made it about 8 days. It seemed like forever since I’d been to my favourite store! I was practically skipping in the door, I was so excited to be there. Plus, we’d already been in Woolworth’s and Coles, so I was ready for some Costco reasonable prices and quality goods. I wasn’t disappointed at all. There are lots of different products to try out while we are here and the prices seem much more reasonable to me than at the local supermarkets.
I’ve never been lucky enough to regularly shop in a Costco location that had covered parking. However, it is a marvelous idea that I wish they would do everywhere. The day we went to Costco it was pouring buckets of rain (this was the weekend that they had all the flooding in Queensland) and blowing and truly miserable outside. So, it was a very welcome relief to be able to get out of the car and be dry and even more so when we came back with our cart loaded down and didn’t have to get drenched putting everything into our car. The parking is right under the building, so it doesn’t seem to increase the footprint of the building, but obviously it is taller. I think there was just one level to the covered parking, and then a bit of uncovered parking but that might have been more for the Costco Australia headquarters.
From the parking level you take the most enormous elevator up to the shopping area; seriously it could fit 4 carts and several people in there I’m pretty sure. If you’re not an elevator fan, they also have a ramp from the parking level. The first thing you see when you get off of the elevator is the food court. They’ve got the same things you’ll find in the US: pizza, lattes, churros, chicken Caesar salad, and of course the hot dog and soda deal. But shocking the hot dog and soda deal here is A$2.49 instead of the $1.50 you’ll find in the US. I was a little shocked by this since Costco prides itself on that $1.50 deal, I had just assumed it would be A$1.50 too. But we have found that this difference in prices is about par for the course in Australia so far, everything seems to be 75 – 100% more expensive here than in the US. I’m trying to get over the constant sticker shock.
Once we actually got in the store, the first thing we noticed was that the store is big, really really big. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t been in a Costco location that is this new; it hasn’t even been open two whole years yet. Dave and I were both awed by the sheer size of the place. But on the whole, they have the same types of products , maybe just a bit more of it, and more space between it, that you’ll find in the US, UK or Canada. And the layout is really just like all of the other Costco locations you’ve been to, as well. It’s not until you start really looking at individual items that you notice the subtle differences. There are different brands or different types of juice or noodles or cleaning supplies, for instance. It was amazingly the same, yet really different, all at the same time, if that makes any sense.
Some of the things that were the same were the Kirkland Signature men’s dress shirts, but for the first time ever, I saw the KS women’s dress shirts. They look really nice and I’m thinking of getting one the next time we’re there. They actually had lots of the Kirkland Signature branded items, not just in clothing but all throughout the store. I think there seemed to be more KS items here than there are in the UK. And if you were wondering where all of the old formula KS shampoo and conditioner went, apparently it is in Australia. I was shocked to see the old stuff still there instead of the new version of the KS shampoo and conditioner. Wonder why they made that decision? It was kind of interesting to see the KS items that were there and then wonder about the items that weren’t there. For instance, the biggest void I noticed was in the laundry products. They had the KS fabric softener (bought this for the first time ever), but didn’t have the nice KS laundry detergent. Maybe they were just out temporarily though. But the thing that made me most sad to see missing from the KS lineup was the extra virgin olive oil!! How could they not have that? I was distraught and looked all over but couldn’t find it. And they didn’t even have a reasonable replacement. The only olive oil they seemed to have was in this enormous jug, in a metal gas can style jug. So, we had to go with something else.
But aside from that, we found everything we wanted, and naturally, way more than we even knew we wanted. Our basic plan for this Costco trip was to buy all of the necessities that we knew we would need, along with some groceries. For instance, we needed a printer and scanner, so we knew that was one of the things we had to get at Costco. We didn’t know that we would also feel compelled to buy prawn dumplings too. But that is the beauty of Costco, you run in for a few things you know you need, and come out with so much more. Which is great for me the stockholder, less so for me the consumer.
It’s always fun to go to a completely new Costco, whether it is just in a different region in the US or a totally different country. I definitely enjoy that first couple of trips to the new location, and Australia is no exception. We noticed that the Take and Bake pizzas are topped with unique things, though we were just happy to see them again because they don’t have them at all in the UK. In the UK they have pizza, but it isn’t round and doesn’t look as good as the Take and Bake style. In Australia, they had a chicken chorizo and chilli pizza, as well as something they called a meat combo which interestingly had bacon on it along with pepperoni, salami and other stuff. The other thing that I noticed was the big price difference since it is A$14.99 for the 16″ round pizza, much more than in the US where they are only $9.99.
The other thing we noticed is that Costco Australia seems to have a lot of Asian food products that will be fun to try. This is similar to all of the Indian food items that Costco UK always seemed to have and we loved to try. They have a sushi kit and rice noodles, which are two things I’ve not seen at Costco in either the US or UK. Plus, we got some BBQ pork buns and prawn dumplings that look yummy and are certainly something we haven’t had from Costco before.
The thing that completely floored us, was that the Costco bakery sells glazed donuts! For two donut lovers, in a city where a dozen glazed at Krispy Kreme is A$17.00, this is terrific. Sadly, by the time we saw them in someone else’s cart and got back to the bakery area they were sold out. But next time, we will head immediately to the bakery and get some donuts to try out.
They had enormous, 5 kilogram buckets of Greek yogurt, which were alongside equally enormous buckets of Feta cheese and mozzarella balls. That’s a whole lot of yogurt! I’ve never seen these types of giant buckets of yogurt and cheese in other Costco locations. Sure, they have the big 5 pound bags of shredded cheese, but someone that doesn’t seem to compare to the hugeness that is a 5 kilogram bucket of yogurt. I mean, if you don’t want to do the weight conversion, that is just over 11 pounds of Greek yogurt! HUGE!
And if you are wondering how we got to Costco here, we rented a car this time. We are really fortunate that there is a Hertz location about a 7 minute walk from our apartment here in Sydney. Sadly, there’s no Zipcar here in Australia, though there are other car sharing schemes. The good news is that Hertz just started a new program in Sydney called Hertz on Demand that is basically the same car sharing concept. It’s new here but has been in the US for a while and can also be found in London and Berlin. They pay for all the gas and insurance and a permanent parking spot for the cars and you can go online and book a car; all quite similar to Zipcar really. The Hertz program is kind of cool because they don’t require a yearly membership fee like all of the other car sharing clubs. So, that is our plan for future trips to Costco and anywhere else we might drive while we are here.