People tend to join Costco or Sam’s Club to save money on bulk sizes of products they would be buying anyway. But many warehouse club shoppers repeatedly find themselves splurging on something out of the ordinary, maybe justifying the purchase by telling themselves it’s a deal. Costco, in particular, is known for its "treasure hunt" strategy of tempting customers with a constant rotation of nonessential items around every corner. Still, many of those purchases could be considered worthy, given warehouse club savings. Here are 10 things consumers don't have to feel too guilty about putting in their oversize carts.21 Surprisingly Expensive Products From Costco
Most people head to Costco thinking more about bulk garbage bags than high fashion, but a recent visit turned up Tommy Hilfiger men's button-down dress shirts for $20 and Calvin Klein women’s knit tops for $15 and denim shorts for $18. This past winter, Hunter boots were selling for $80 online. The famous rubber Wellingtons are normally around $140.
Looking at the camera bundles at Sam’s Club or Costco, it’s tempting to leave behind the limitations of smartphone cameras and decide to get real about photography. A top-reviewed Nikon D3300 would cost about $550 elsewhere, but Sam’s Club throws in a zoom lens in addition to the standard lens, as well as a carrying case and a 32GB memory card for $700. Even on Amazon, a similar bundle doesn't include the memory card.
Wine is often a good deal at Costco and Sam’s Club. Some high-end wines are distributed under warehouse club labels for much lower prices when a vintner has a surplus -- and why should a wine lover pass up a great find when it presents itself? The flow of fine wines at Costco has been written up in such places as The Wall Street Journal and Money magazine, and there’s an independent blog devoted to the amazing stuff that pops up. CostcoWineBlog.com recently featured a 2013 Kirkland Signature Series Oakville cabernet sauvignon for $19 -- not a cheap wine but worth twice the price, the reviewer says.
Related: Beat the Heat: 13 Cheap, Refreshing Summer Wines
High-end movie theaters have comfortable, reclining chairs with trays to hold fancy snacks and drinks -- why shouldn’t a home media room have the same feel? Sam’s Club sells the Abbyson Living Larson leather power recliner with built-in cup holders, tuck-away tray tables, and storage areas for $400. A similar model discounted on Wayfair still costs $270 more.
A vacation is a luxury, no doubt about it, but feel better about the expense when booking through Costco. The warehouse store is known for its travel benefits, from all-inclusive resorts and vacation packages to cruises and theme park tickets. For example, taking a week off in the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive Punta Cana resort can cost as little as $2,667 for two adults in October -- including flights. Booking travel through a warehouse club can also bring perks on rental cars and stays at partner hotels.
Related: When to Hit 10 Top Vacation Destinations for Big Savings
Most warehouse club customers probably aren't shopping to outfit the kids, but many head home with frilly dresses, extra swimsuits, or pajama sets once they see what’s available. It's hard not to load up on Adidas shirts for $12, Puma shorts for $10, and Carter's baby sets for $9. There are tutus and dresses for $8 from Little Me, a brand carried by Nordstrom, and DKNY rompers for $17.
A pool table sure would look good in the den or the basement, wouldn't it? At Sam's Club, billiards tables go for as little as $450. The 7.5-foot Barrington Billiards table with ball and claw legs has a traditional design and comes with two cue sticks, a full set of balls, a triangle rack, two chalks, and a brush. The price is $100 higher on Amazon.
It’s one thing to have a TV that needs replacing and join a warehouse club to get extra savings on that big-ticket item. But it’s also easy to go on a routine Costco shopping trip and come home with something like the Soundcast Melody Bluetooth outdoor speaker for $200. Be comforted by the fact that warehouse club prices on electronics are often cheaper or at least on par with online and big-box competitors. The speaker costs an additional $100 on Amazon.
Warehouse clubs stock crab, lobster, and beef tenderloin that can be mouthwatering to think about eating but dizzying to think about buying -- 20 pounds of easy-peel jumbo raw shrimp cost $329 and 15 pounds of farm-raised catfish fillets go for $125 online at Sam's Club. But there are also items in smaller quantities in store, making the price easier to swallow. A 2.5-pound package of Alaskan sockeye salmon sells for $22.50, for instance. At Costco, beef tenderloin is $11 by the pound.
Hundreds of thousands of cars are sold every year through a Costco program with pre-negotiated prices on new and used cars. Many are the usual Fords, Hyundais, or even Audis found at 3,000 participating dealers, but members can shop for everything from RVs and motorcycles to small vehicles such as ATVs, snowmobiles, and golf carts. For drivers with up to $150,000 to spend, a late-model Porsche Panamera, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or Maserati convertible is available too. Although the prices aren't as low as the most aggressive buyer might be able to negotiate, they're generally a good deal -- no haggling required.