5 Tips for Maximizing Your Costco Experience (and Making it Out Alive)

If you’ve ever been to Costco at 1pm on a Saturday, then I’m also going to assume you wore a helmet and knee pads, parked in a different county, and got hustled into buying BBQ sauce at the sample table.

Let’s be clear.
I heart so much about Costco.  The gas prices, the products, the samples, the $1.50 hot dog and soda deal.

My emotional journey in Costco tends to look something like this:
-empowered (filling the cart with bulk packages of apples and spinach),
-confused (that teddy bear is literally 93″ tall. why.),
-discouraged (putting the 72 count Bagel Bites into the cart as far away from the spinach as possible),
-confident (pushing an enormous cart filled with items in bulk + a wiggling toddler in front. I can conquer the world.)
-surprised (the check out line was way quicker than it looked),
-relieved (having an introvert moment that I can finally escape the masses)

If you plan to visit Costco, you’ll need these five tips to maximize your experience:


Tip #1: Make sure your personal, legal, and financial affairs are in order before you navigate the parking lot on a weekend.
Friends don’t let friends try to park at Costco without a game plan.  As your friend, I need to remind you it’s okay to get aggressive and make a power move toward an open parking spot.  Box out Granny in her Buick.  YOU NEED THAT SPOT.  Otherwise you’ll end up parking in the far corner that’s technically still on the Costco property, but requires Siri to locate the store entrance.  People be cray trying to park over there.  For the sake of the people who love you and will have to sort through your estate if you don’t make it out, make sure your life affairs are in order beforehand.

Tip #2: Embrace the security detail.
Like any decent club, there is a bouncer on the way in, someone checking for shifty eyes on the way out, and you end up getting carded.  This isn’t the time to get all hot and bothered about the procedures.  You have an exclusive membership.  It is a privilege to walk the aisles here.  Get to know Pamela the bouncer.  Have your receipt ready on the way out for Steve.  Embrace the security measures in place because all of this ensures that you don’t accidentally rub shoulders with a Sam’s Club or BJ’s commoner.

Tip #3:  The carts: go big or go home.  
In some ways, Costco is kind of like Texas: you don’t mess with it and everything is bigger.  Even the carts.  As you walk through the store pushing a cart, if you don’t have the proper cart technique and hand placement then you’ll give my heel a flat tire and I will cut you.  Place your hands at a wide “9-and-3” on the steering bars and stay on high alert for braking for pedestrian traffic jams.  If someone tries to give you a spiel for gutter guards, let them talk to your one year old while you walk away from the cart and pick out office supplies.  When turning the cart and navigating around fellow shoppers, you are living the lyrics to the Cha Cha Slide:  Turn it out/ To the left/ Take it back now yall/ One hop this time/ REVERSE REVERSE/ Slide to the left/ Slide to the right/ Pop a wheelie around Family of Six/ Take it back now y’all/ 

Tip #4: Disregard societal norms and park it in front of the sample tables for a free lunch.
If Costco wants us to spend our afternoons shopping at their store, testing out all the patio furniture and such, then we’re gonna need to fuel up at the Sampler Station.  It will be the most random buffet you’ve ever had: flavored mashed potatoes and bruschetta and granola bar samples.  Walk around til you find some red velvet mini-cakes for dessert and you’re set to food coma right on that patio lounger.  On your way out, if you’re still hungry, you can buy a smoothie or a turkey wrap at the concessions area.  Then again, that costs money, so.. NAH.

Tip #5: Don’t pull a Target.
Y’all know what I’m talking about.. when you get to Target needing to buy four things and you walk out with a new outfit, a shower curtain, and a freakin teepee for the playroom.  (Read my Target post here.)  I’m talking about going into Costco and sticking to the list.  This is not the time to decide you want to “try” an 84oz bag of veggie straws.  Buying in bulk is helpful when it’s for a purpose.  Buying in bulk is not helpful when you throw a pack of 24 count Sharpies into the cart “to see what that shade of green looks like”.  Save yourself some time and just take a $20 bill and throw it up in the air and walk away.  Here, Costco- FREE MONEY.  That’s what happens when you start experimenting off of the list.

If you follow those five basic guidelines, I can guarantee that on a Saturday at 1pm, you will leave Costco:
1) Alive to tell about it,
2) Facebook friends with Pamela the bouncer,
3) Fat and happy off of fourteen helpings of the toaster strudel samples.

Godspeed Costco shopper.