Guest Post: Kirkland Signature Select-A-Size Paper Towels

June 18th, 2013 · 50 Comments

I have read several comments on my blog and received several emails about having something like a select-a-size paper towels from Kirkland Signature.  It seems like something that a lot of people are interested in and would certainly buy.  So, why doesn’t Costco do it?  Have they looked into it even?  Well, apparently, despite all the people I know that say they want smaller paper towels from Costco, they think that it isn’t really what consumers want and say they did a test in a number of stores to prove it.  An environmentally conscious Costco shopper, Bruce, in New York, recently sent me his email thread with Costco about this very issue.  As you can see, Bruce has got a very good sense of humour and makes some valid points.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Costco is interested in changing the size of their paper towels any time soon after their test run with them.

Subject: 35% waste…save a tree

Bruce’s First Email to Costco:

I just received my latest “Costco Connection” not my favorite magazine but not bad. Besides Nordstrom’s and Trader Joe’s, Costco is my favorite store.  I have 3 Vizio TVs, Costco tires on my cars, love the fruit, and a trip to Costco makes my week complete. I must say, however, that on a recent visit we decided to switch from our Bounty paper towels to the Kirkland brand after seeing the TV bit on Costco and how they QC everything and inspect the quality. I was astonished to feel the great Kirkland paper towel. Soft as a baby’s you know what. Did you know that each sheet is 35% larger than Bounty? I am 66 years old with 3 kids and 5 grandkids that are teaching me to be environmentally responsible. I recycle paper and plastic and pick up litter when I hike in the woods. I think that Costco should do something about the size of each sheet. For a small spill I am forced to take this large sheet.  Be a leader.  Help the environment.  Save tree.  Help future generations breathe clean air. Make the sheets half the size because we can always take more if needed.  

I am not sure if you are the correct person to voice this to but you look so environmentally conscious with your beard and red shirt.  Think of the great press you would receive.  What do you think???

Thanks,   Bruce B

Bruce’s Second Email to Costco (week after the original message):

Enclosed is a copy of a letter I sent to David, for which I have had no response. Hey, this is important..anyone out there watching the store? Now to think about it, not only are we hurting the environment but I am being cheated by thinking I am saving using the Kirkland brand over Bounty but am actually using more because of the sheet size. Please respond as I have nothing better to do on rainy summer days and will not go away.  

Thanking you in advance, Bruce

Costco Response (sent a couple of days after Bruce’s second email):

Dear Mr. B,

Thank you for taking the time to send your letter concerning our Kirkland Signature Paper Towel.  Glad to hear from Costco members like yourself and I’m sorry for the delay in this response.  We completely understand your sentiment about providing a “half-sheet” perforation on our Kirkland Signature Paper Towel.  As we continue to develop this item, we will absolutely keep your recommendations in mind.

 In closing, we truly appreciate your business and certainly hope you will continue to support Kirkland Signature items.  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

 Best regards,  Erik F., Assistant Buyer – Corporate Sundries & Tobacco

Bruce’s Reply to Costco:

Dear Erik,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my suggestion. Just imagine how many trees we can save by trimming the size of an item as simple as a paper towel.  As a stockholder in Costco I am looking forward to traveling to the next stockholders meeting and listening to the additional steps that our company is taking to save our environment. Do you have any idea when the new sized towels could reach the market?? 

Thanking you in advance, Bruce

Costco Response #2: 

Bruce, I appreciate your email back.  To clarify and elaborate, we tested a Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size paper towel in about 130 warehouses last year, primarily in warehouses located on the west coast.  The test was determined to be unsuccessful and we discontinued the item in May of 2011.

We appreciate your recommendations and will keep them in mind, but we do not have plans to launch a Kirkland Signature create-a-size paper towel at this time.  
 
If you have any further questions, please let me know.
 
Thanks again, Erik F., Assistant Buyer – Corporate Sundries & Tobacco
As you can imagine, Bruce has been really frustrated and saddened by his response from Costco.  And I’m sure a lot of you will be too.  I wanted to post this to provide an answer for all of the people that contact me or comment here about the paper towels.  I would suggest that everyone that agrees with Bruce and feels strongly about this issue, leave a comment in the Suggestions/Comment book in their local Costco warehouse (it’s by the Customer Service desk usually), maybe talk to the manager at their local Costco warehouse, and send some email directly to Costco about your suggestions for a select-a-size paper towel.  
I often just end up tearing the giant paper towels in half, but this isn’t really very convenient, especially when you have a spill and are trying to be fast about it.  But Bruce raises a really good point about the cost savings, or not, of the larger Kirkland Signature towels as compared to the Bounty paper towels.  Are they really not a good deal financially and just leading to lots of waste paper?    What do you think about the KS paper towels?  Do you like the thought of a select-a-size paper towels?
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50 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 MHS // 2014.05.20 at 6:27 am

    I also do not like the new select a size paper towels. The larger size was much better. Thinker and more like Bounty. I find myself using 3 or 4 of the select a size towels where I was using 1 larger towels before. They just do not hold up. I’m going to have to switch to to Bounty. Big mistake Costso but I love going to your store. Please bring back the old paper towels.

  2. 2 BREGS // 2014.05.16 at 12:08 am

    I stumbled upon this site while trying to find out who manufacturers Kirkland paper towels. Recently, with the help of a fellow shopper’s endorsement, my husband agreed to TRY Kirkland ptowels (I’m not a Bounty fan) and we ended up w/the half sheet perforations and we both love them. I hope our local warehouse keeps these. Never did find who manufacturers them. ANyone?

  3. 3 JPs Bees // 2014.03.22 at 7:06 pm

    We all HATE kirkland select a size paper towels. Please! Bring back regular size towels. Select a size sucks! Give us a choice, paid good money for membership, probably won’t renew over this issue. We want the regular size towel’s back! Now!

  4. 4 Becky // 2014.02.23 at 5:42 pm

    I despise the select a size Kirkland paper towels and love the original version. The Costco I go to in California has 3 brands of paper towels and ALL of them are now select a size. It’s incredibly annoying. I accidentally bought the select a size and got too little or too much paper towel when I used them, wasting a lot of the roll. I went to the Costco website and submitted my opinion on this. Hopefully they will bring back the original Kirkland paper towels. I don’t mind them stocking the select a size, but they really need to give us the option of that or the regular size. I will purchase my paper towels elsewhere until they offer an acceptable option.

  5. 5 Terri // 2014.02.13 at 5:27 pm

    I hate the select a size for the Kirkland Paper Towels. Last 2 times at the Cypress, CA store this is what they had. Is it for the test market again or are these the way they will always be? If so I will be changing brands and not buy these.

  6. 6 Fred // 2014.02.08 at 4:43 pm

    Well Sharon L. I hope you took them back to Costco and got a refund. You know they have a great return policy.

  7. 7 Sharon L // 2014.02.08 at 8:36 am

    I detest the new select a size paper towels. They are thin and CHEAP. I shop at the Robinson store near Pittsburgh. Are we getting leftovers from the trial that failed on the West coast? I hope they bring back the full size, full thickness version. They were great and the only brand I used. I won’t buy any more of this cheezy junk.

  8. 8 Aaron // 2014.01.28 at 12:13 am

    I also want to report being a victim of the new “select-a-size” Kirkland paper towels. I inadvertently purchased these cheap and crappy paper towels at my local San Diego Costco thinking that I would be receiving the standard tried and true full-size sheets. Why the change? Were people too stupid to just tear off a piece of the larger sheet for a small spill? WTF? I often make a trip to Costco just to pick up the full size paper towels and a few other staples. Why did they change such an iconic product? This equates to the same debacle that Coke created with “New Coke.” This product change just flat out pisses me off. I thought that Costco had intelligent management, but I see now that they have lost their way. If Costco keeps making these errors, they’ll end up like JC Penney or Sears. It’s no wonder that Costco can’t meet their earnings estimates.

    By the way, the original post by Bruce makes me want to toilet paper his house and make millions of paper origami animals to place all over his Prius. Am I supposed to believe that an idiot like Bruce is traveling to a Costco shareholder meeting to voice his concerns? Whatever. Bring back the large size rolls!!!

  9. 9 Stacey // 2014.01.21 at 10:25 am

    I hate the new create-a-size paper towel….if I wanted a thin and small towel I would buy bounty or some other brand. One of the reasons I make the trip to Costco is for the Kirkland large size paper towels!!!

  10. 10 MikeA // 2014.01.02 at 2:27 pm

    I love the large size Kirkland towels and have used them for decades. For a while, they tried selling the select a size. I hated them and stopped buying the Kirkland brand. They never let me get the size I wanted, and asa result I found myself tearing more sheets and wasting paper than with the regular size. Select a size is the most annoying thing ever invented. What always set Kirkland apart was the large size. Just because some uninformed moron that doesn’t know tree farming is the most sustainable industry on earth, and that most consumer paper products come from farmed trees and recycled materials, thinks he is saving the evitonmenr. Why should I suffer be because of that persons ignorance and stupidity? Besides, just about every other brand has jumped on the environmental whacko bandwagon and gone with select a size. If these idiots don’t like the large Kirkland sheets, then let them buy the multitude of other brands.

    • 11 roger in woodbridge va // 2014.01.15 at 8:09 am

      agreed costco at the very least allow a choice between select a size and the big 11×14 big roll- select a size wastes more than it saves in paper. You can find the original 11×14 kirkland on amazon and ebay folks……………………… take the hint costco!!

  11. 12 Trish // 2013.12.23 at 1:13 pm

    I am not opposed to select a size, however the thickness of the paper towel is not to the level it was when the towels were not select a size. I clean homes for a living and I see a very big difference in the absorbency. No issue with select a size but they should maintain the level of performance!

    • 13 Susan // 2014.01.02 at 3:32 pm

      I agree. I was so happy to see the Kirkland select a size, or whatever they are calling it, but the quality is not what their full size sheets were, and I no longer see the big sheets in my warehouse.

  12. 14 Royak // 2013.12.20 at 6:20 pm

    OMG! I just returned from my San Diego Costco with white, Kirkland “CREATE-A-SIZE” paper towels. What a Christmas present!

  13. 15 Octsoc // 2013.12.10 at 2:54 pm

    It’s funny how people want the select-a-size, but when we discontinue the longer sheets, others complain.

    The store I work at recently replaced the KS Paper Towels with the select-a-size ones, and many times when I go to stock them I get members asking if we have any of the regular KS Paper Towels. I don’t understand why you’re complaining when you can select your own size. It just goes to show you that you can’t please everyone.

    • 16 Robbie // 2013.12.10 at 3:16 pm

      Nope, you definitely can’t please the public… However, it’s cool that Costco, at least at my store, offers both the old and the new paper towels.

    • 17 MikeA // 2014.01.02 at 2:32 pm

      Because the select a size sucks and you can’t choose your own size, because they create less leverage on the tear, either the smaller size rips off first or it rips after a bunch of sheetz are pulled to provide enough leverage – resulting in a sheet that is twice the size of the old size sheets. Anyone that thinks select a size saves paper is retarded.

      • 18 James // 2014.01.11 at 11:57 pm

        You would consider cancelling your Costco membership because the company changed the size of the paper towels? Seems a bit extreme and absurd.

        • 19 Fred // 2014.01.12 at 6:07 pm

          I totally agree James, quite a ridiculous statement.

  14. 20 Royak // 2013.12.10 at 1:48 pm

    Bruce is on-target! (Oh, by the way, Target is where I sometimes buy my paper towels because Kirkland towels are so unsatisfactory).
    When I bring up the subject of Costco’s refusal to offer Kirkland select-a-size, most people agree with me. It’s so irritating to, say, wash my hands and have to use/waste an oversized sheet to dry them. At least Costco should offer a non-Kirkland paper towel that gives the option of size selection. I was at a San Diego Costco yesterday and wanted to buy paper towels, but the non-Kirkland alternative (I forget the brand) was promoting “Longer Sheets!” I almost had a stroke.
    I also own stock in Costco and love its stores, but when it comes to this towel subject, someone in management has his/her head where the sun don’t shine.

    • 21 MikeA // 2014.01.11 at 7:46 pm

      If you don’t like the large size towels, then simply buy one of the other brands (all of which have given in to you whackos and make select a size) instead of trying to make the rest of us suffer. And let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with saving paper or the environment, because the select a size wastes more paper than it saves. Instead, it has everything to do with trying to control the behavior of others and make them live by your sick interpretation of the world, while using the environment as a cover for your sociopathic behavior. These “feel good” measures to control others always have the opposite effect. For instance, here in NYC, our mayor limited salty foods in restaurants. So, when I get chicken soup at a diner it is so bland that I must add salt. However, I never know just how much salt to add. As a result, I always over salt the soup and consume more salt than the originally salted soup would have had in the first place. As a result, a measure to control salt intake by forcing others equates to people eating more salt; just like a measure to force Costco to make select a size towels will result in people wasting more paper. If regular size towels don’t come back and Costco continues to bow to the will of you minority lunatics then I will be canceling my Costco membership.

  15. 22 Robbie // 2013.12.10 at 12:00 pm

    Good news: The Costco in Azusa, California had a variable-size paper towels. They were Kirkland branded and the variable-sized paper towels were identical in quantity as the older, fixed-size towels.

  16. 23 Nina // 2013.11.04 at 12:25 am

    This comment comes in a little late but I did buy the select a size in the test market. I thought they were great. when I went back they didn’t have them anymore. I finally switched to another brand with smaller sheets.

    • 24 Ck // 2014.03.05 at 4:58 pm

      I just called my local Costco, in Westlake Village, CA. The gentlemen on who answered said: “He was certain that the Kirkland ‘Select-a-Size’ is the store’s only choice (I love the previous 11″x14″ sheet!) because he believes that’s what Costco customers want!

      I can’t agree – Costco carries plenty of Select-a-Size already – The Kirkland brand was the ONLY one where I could get a useful sheet (11″x14″) for most of my uses.

      I, as most, now need to think about, and then ‘man-handle’ each time, when I just want to grab a paper towel – Costco: Please return to the 11’xx14” sheets!

      -Ck

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