Praise to…Costco

I think you are great. I think you are a wonderful creation. You might even be my favourite store ever. Your prices are fair. Your website is amazing (quite possibly the best online shopping store out there). Your customer service is top-notch (and in our experience when have fallen short – like that time our lawn furniture was destroyed upon delivery or that time you forgot to order the last set of tires available tires for our vehicle – you’ve fixed the situation as soon as possible). You make returns hassle free, even on-line returns which is just awesome in my humble opinion. You provide top quality meats and vegetables. You provide my prescription glasses at the best price I’ve ever found (and I’m nearly blind so this is quite the compliment). You take my amazing digital photos and turn them into wall worthy prints. You now sell me fuel for my car at a better price then the competition and sell me alcohol at ridiculously low prices. You really are amazing!

But, I do have one legitimate complaint about you. Every time I step inside your giant warehouse, you take away much more money then I intended to part with. I always find a great deal or two, and end up spending more then I ever expect. And since my husband hates stepping foot in Costco (don’t be offended, he hates stepping foot in any store), I end up left to my own devises without a “conscious” to keep me in-line and focused on buying only the items on the list. Some days I come home with unexpected clothing; a book or two or three; a desk chair; wild sockeye salmon; a new kitchen table; a new pair of sunglasses, etc. Yes, usually these items are on our want list, but just not the priority list. You are amazing when it comes to finding things I either happen to legitimately need or just really want. You take more of my hard-earned cash than any other store out there.

So, I started writing this post on Costco, in the same manner I’ve written other posts, laced with humor and sarcasm (see my post on Candy Crush to get an idea of what I mean). When I was there yesterday, I was mentally planning out my entertaining post – I even took photos of my cart growing and taking away my money to add to the humor (and I never have this kind of foresight to actually take photos).

The start of my Costco adventure.  Always filled with anticipation at what good deal I will find next.

The start of my Costco adventure. Always filled with anticipation at what good deal I will find next.

If you look closely you can clearly tell that I am absolutely addicted to chai tea latte's and I love my fruits and veggies.  And my dog is clearly a fan of dentasticks.

If you look closely you can clearly tell that I am absolutely addicted to chai tea latte’s and I love my fruits and veggies. And my dog is clearly a fan of dentasticks.

But, then, with a simple google search, my thoughts on this post have been completed changed. You see, I googled Costco and started reading more about the corporation and there history. I’ve always been told that Costco treats its staff better than most corporations, but when you read about them, they actually sound like one of the best corporations out there at least when compared to other large big box stores.

My brief online review has resulted in my initial love for Costco growing astronomically! While, I’m not saying I believe everything I read on the internet, and I’m not saying Costco is perfect (no multi-billion dollar corporation is and this recent CBC article of dog food raises some questions), I am saying on the whole the company actually really impresses me. Mistakes will be made. Decisions will be made that not everyone agrees with. But, on the whole, form what I can tell, Costco is awesome!

So, my initial list of reasons I love Costco (as discussed above) has now been extended to include these nifty little facts:

  1. The CBC article above mentions that no link to the dog food has not been proved. So, being a naive and trusting person, I assume Costco is making the decision to continue to sell the products based on the fact that there is no scientific evidence saying otherwise.
  2. Costco was the first company to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in less than six years (Wikipedia) – if that is true that’s just some awesome business skills!
  3. Costco requires a membership to shop there. Now, while I like this, many others do not. We spend enough money there, that every year we actually make more money back off our executive membership then the cost of the membership. (If it wasn’t already clear, I shop there for most things, and therefore I shop there a lot). So, I actually make money off my purchases, albeit it’s not a lot of money, but money is money. To my knowledge, no other store gives me cash back once a year. And, combine this with the points I collect on my American Express, and I’m doing great!
  4. Costco pays there staff well – “Costco pays its hourly workers an average of $20.89 an hour, not including overtime (vs. the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour). By comparison, Walmart said its average wage for full-time employees in the U.S. is $12.67 an hour” (BloombergBusinessweek). If Costco can do it, and do it successfully, why can the other stores not pay their staff a living wage? This just doesn’t make sense to me.
  5. You don’t have to be married to or even reside in the same house as the second person on your membership card. For years, my husband and a friend split a membership. This reduces the membership fee.
  6. Costco allows non-members to shop in there store through the use of gift cards. So, there is always a way to shop there.
  7. Costco’s CEO “earned $650,000 in 2012, plus a $200,000 bonus and stock options worth about $4 million, based on the company’s performance….By contrast, Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s 2012 base salary was $1.3 million; he was also awarded a $4.4 million cash bonus and $13.6 million in stock grants” (BloombergBusinessweek). Seriously, those numbers are staggering when compared to the average person’s salary, but still, Costco clearly is able to attract and retain a top CEO for much less ten Walmart.
  8. Rather then laying off staff during the 2009 economic downturn, like Macy’s, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Office Depot, Costco provided a $1.50-an-hour-wage increase spread out over 3 years to all hourly staff (BloombergBusinessweek). Yes, that’s right, Costco chose to reduce their profits, and help their staff. Now, if only more companies could do this, I’m sure the world would be a better place.
  9. Costco also provides more benefits to its staff then Walmart – “82% of Costco employees have health-insurance coverage, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart. And Costco workers pay just 8% of their health premiums, whereas Wal-Mart workers pay 33% of theirs. Ninety-one percent of Costco’s employees are covered by retirement plans, with the company contributing an annual average of $1,330 per employee, while 64 percent of employees at Sam’s Club are covered, with the company contributing an annual average of $747 per employee.” (Harvard Business Review)
  10. “Turnover at the company runs just 10% overall for hourly workers and 6% if they stay longer than one year, he told me. Those figures are miniscule compared to overall turnover rates of 67% for part-time staffers and 24% for full-timers” at other corporations (Fortune). This remarkably low turnover rate is likely indicative of staff satisfaction (no-one stays very long in a job they dislike). And of course, this would also be helping Costco’s bottom line as they are not faced with high human resource costs related to continually interviewing, training new staff, etc.

Most of these stats are based on American numbers, but it appears that they treat all there staff equally throughout the world. These numbers and facts paint a very telling picture, at least to me – Costco is a corporation that understands that there is a direct link between treating your staff well and company performance.

So, guess where I will be continuing to shop?

Yes, that’s right – Costco!

Now, if only I can figure out the best time of day to go there to avoid the lines…

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24 Comments on “Praise to…Costco

  1. Have you considered interviewing the employees at your local shop to get their perspective? I’ve never been a member and have always equated Costco with Wal-Mart, to be honest, so this was an interesting read though I’m still not convinced about the whole big box store thing. I like shopping local whenever practical.

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    • That’s a great idea, but truth be told, I suspect i’m too lazy to do anything other then just talking to the cashiers when I’m there next. But, I’ll totally ask them.
      My parents were always Costco members, and we are too. I enjoy shopping there so much more then Wal-Mart (which I avoid as much as humanly possible).

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      • I hate Wal-Mart for its crappy treatment of workers and the way it destroys local businesses, too. It’s hard for me not to view Costco through the same lens, but I never knew any of this stuff before reading your post. Maybe I should be more open-minded? Nah… who’s got time for that. 😉

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    • Our Costco just opened an liquor store a few years ago. It’s located outside of the main store (as is required here) and it’s super cheap by Canadian standards, and no membership is required (I suspect this also has to do with some legal requirements). Anyways, still not as good as the US, but better then anywhere else around here. 🙂

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  2. I love Costco too. They treat their employees well and have the best return policy around. Your cart looked pretty good! Our cart tends to have a lot more bags of dark chocolate in it 😉

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  3. The nearest Costco to my home is about an hour away, this post almost makes me want to make the drive and join! It also reminds me of the Modern Family episode when Mitchell goes to Costco for the first time and is completely amazed and ends up buying all kinds of junk he doesn’t need – not that I think you buy junk, but he was skeptical at first then he falls in love with it, and your post reminded me of it. 🙂 One of my favorite shows actually.

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    • Growing up my parents made us drive an hour to costco, and we hated it! Now, I happily live a few minutes away from our nearest one.
      And, its totally just like the Modern Family episode!! Great reference! One of our favourite shows as well.

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  4. We now have Costco in Oz woohoo, I really enjoy going there and shopping.
    In addition to what you have said above I have also been told by an employee that the Oz Costco is very into the education of their staff to give them the skills to move up in the company. How amazing is that!!

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    • Thanks for reading and sharing this this tidbit. I actually read about their education program for staff when I was reading all about Costco. Apparently, they prefer to promote from within (which has mixed reviews from a company development perspective), but what it does mean is that staff get educated and trained all the time. I cannot remember the source, but I definitely did read all about this too.

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      • There is a snippet about it on their page http://www.costco.com.au/Common/Jobs.shtml but like you I remember having read something far more detailed.
        I get the worries regarding development, but I think the benefits outweigh the risks because you end up with loyal, dedicated staff that have a wealth of knowledge. It’s about building organisational knowledge which is something a lot of businesses do not think about, but is vitally important.

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  5. I knew I loved Costco for a reason above their free samples!!! Thanks for sharing. Costco should pay your for this positive PR

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