Why We're Costco Fanatics
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12 Reasons Why Shoppers Are Addicted to Costco

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Why We're Costco Fanatics
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Legions of consumers happily pay the (minimum) $60 annual fee for the privilege of shopping at Costco. The discount warehouse operator closed out fiscal 2018 with 786 outlets, an increase of 40 over the prior year, according to the company's annual report. During that same period, more than nine out of 10 members in North America renewed their status. Aside from the savings that come with low prices and bulk buying, what keeps shoppers coming back for more? Here's what members say in online reviews and a Cheapism.com Facebook poll.

Related: How Non-Members Can Shop at Costco

Quality Products
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One factor that consistently showed up in Cheapism's poll was the quality of the merchandise. Consumer Reports calls some products sold under Costco's in-house Kirkland Signature brand, such as car batteries, toilet paper, condiments, and bacon, top-notch. Several poll respondents single out the paper towels and toilet paper for their excellent quality. Shopper Christina Hardy from Dublin, Ohio, says she rarely buys store-brand but makes an exception for Kirkland paper products and baby wipes because the value is unbeatable, while Powell, Ohio, resident Judi Remenyi loves the prosecco: "For just $7 it is fantastic.”

Related: 20 Beauty Products Worth Buying at Costco

You Eat Your Way Through the Aisles
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Anyone who has ever walked into a Costco store on a weekend surely encountered the veritable smorgasbord of free food. The samples handed out are tasty and abundant, and it's possible to enjoy what amounts to a full meal just by ambling through the aisles.

You Can Get Prescriptions Here ...
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Prices for pharmaceuticals at Costco are generally cheap — really cheap. A 2018 study by Consumer Reports named Costco the second-cheapest pharmacy out of 150 surveyed, behind only an online pharmacy. In addition to savings on prescribed medications, respondents to the Cheapism poll said they like the selection of personal care options, such as organic sunscreen and baby cream, especially because the bulk sizes sell at lower unit cost.

There's One Service Desk to Handle Everything
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Costco offers refunds on almost any purchase just because the consumer isn't happy with it, something that keeps customers shopping at ease. Several poll contributors say they feel like they have a safety net shopping at Costco because they will take just about anything back for any reason, with no time limit for most items. Exceptions include electronics (such as TVs, cameras, and tablets), diamonds of 1 carat or larger, tires and car batteries, and custom products or installations; the return window for appliances is 90 days.

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Without making them pay extra, Costco offers members extended manufacturer's warranties for a total of two years on TVs and computers (but not tablets) and large appliances, such as freezers, dishwashers, and clothes dryers.

Organic Food
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Costco recently surpassed Whole Foods as the second-largest retailer of organic food in the United States, making it second only to Walmart. "I love the variety, quality and price of their organic items,” says Nicole Hosking, of Cincinnati, Ohio, a mother of three boys. While Powell, Ohio, resident Jennifer Squillace says the draw for her is affordable organic foods such as fruits, veggies, high-quality meats, and snacks. 

Related: 21 Surprisingly Expensive Products From Costco

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Pastries in their various sugary splendor only sweeten the deal for Costco members. White sheet cakes garner close to reverence in some quarters. One customer who responded to the Facebook poll says the cake melts in your mouth and fits any party budget, at less than $20 for 48 pieces.

Related:How to Live on $500 a Month at Costco

Clothing Finds
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Costco stocks tables of nondescript clothes, but also some brand names. Want a pair of Hunter boots, for example? They've appeared at Costco for about one-third less than the usual retail price. Members have also seen discounts on children's clothing bearing the Carter's label and items such as brand-name socks, work shirts, and women's pants and leggings.

Quick Checkout
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Although some customers may disagree, poll respondents say Costco employees keep the checkout lines moving at a rapid clip. They may get backed up on occasion, but the stores generally maintain enough open lanes for the time of day and the number of shoppers, according to respondents — and cashiers have an efficient process for ringing up items in a timely fashion.

Supplier Diversity
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Costco works to broaden its supply chain through a diversity program for businesses owned by minorities and women. It also encourages vendors to set up a "roadshow" at a few Costco stores to display and sell their merchandise for a designated period. David Birnhaum of Powell, Ohio, says he loves the rotation of seasonal products and breadth of products that include things you don’t see in other stores.

Employee Benefits
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Costco has a reputation for treating its employees well. A quick look at Glassdoor, a website devoted to employee reviews of workplace benefits, shows Costco averaging 4.4 stars out of 5 from some 5,500 reviewers. By contrast, Sam's Club, a competing warehouse club, garners only 3 stars from around 4,800 reviewers. One post about Costco describes the benefits as "amazing," another says the health care coverage is "simply the best," and a third highlights the paid sick days and personal days after just six months of employment.

Related: Costco or Sam's Club: Which Has Better Prices and Services?

Strong Customer Service
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Treating employees well seems to pay off in their demeanor toward customers. Costco shoppers who responded to our poll said employees are nice, cheerful, and helpful. One mother from Dublin, Ohio, reported getting excellent service when inquiring about the availability of gluten-free options.