• Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
rated:
A lot of us here are members of Costco and other warehouse clubs because a lot of items that they carry save us money. I wanted to start a thread to discuss some of the more atypical and unusual items that we've come across there that represent good value that may prompt others to look for them as well. I also wanted to discuss other items that I am sure that we've all come across there that have left us scratching our heads in the hopes that other posters might explain to us the value associated with those items.

Since Costco has fairly limited inventory, they tend to only stock things that they know will sell. In order for them to know this, the item has to have a pretty wide appeal and has to be priced fairly attractively. So, if they regularly carry an item and you don't quite understand the reason for it, perhaps others can explain the value proposition there, which, once understood, will save you money.

As a very small example, our local Costco consistently carries empty propane tanks. Who buys them and why? I understand that people with propane grills will often want to have two propane tanks, so they never run out. So, is that the target audience there? Do people buy empty propane tanks at Costco and then exchange them for full ones at other retailers, which appears to only save $2-$3? Is there another angle here?

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
I saw someone mentioned this, but it may have been overlooked by others. When you get your own propane tank refilled at... (more)

Jmanolinsky (Jul. 16, 2012 @ 1:35p) |

Why would it be only partially filled?

SangioveseW (Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:00p) |

In order to standardize pricing, companies that sell pre-filled propane tanks generally fill them to a standard volume w... (more)

cnIsfg (Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:12p) |

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

There are many U-Haul locations that will fill your propane tank rather than do an exchange.

refilling is often better than exchange, refilling you only pay for what you buy, you can just top up your tank routinely rather than run out in the middle of cooking

dukefanjohn said:   There are many U-Haul locations that will fill your propane tank rather than do an exchange.Thanks, I did not know that. I still don't quite understand it, as if you want to refill rather than exchange, you can always just buy a full tank and refill it later.

skh12 said:   refilling is often better than exchange, refilling you only pay for what you buy, you can just top up your tank routinely rather than run out in the middle of cookingWe just have two tanks, which is way more convenient. An extra tank is only about $28.

SangioveseW said:   dukefanjohn said:   There are many U-Haul locations that will fill your propane tank rather than do an exchange.Thanks, I did not know that. I still don't quite understand it, as if you want to refill rather than exchange, you can always just buy a full tank and refill it later.
I'm a newb in this area, but can you even buy a full brand new tank? When I was looking into it, most people's issue with getting tanks at one of the places that exchange them was that you don't really know what you're getting. You could be getting a rusty, old tank that's been mishandled. Personally, I prefer having my own tank that I refill as needed.

SangioveseW said:   Since Costco has fairly limited inventory, they tend to only stock things that they know will sell ... As a very small example, our local Costco consistently carries empty propane tanksMine only has these a couple months out of the year, when they also have more than one BBQ grill for sale. A lot of people buying a new grill buy a tank at the same time. Stocking the tanks might sell an extra grill or two.

Many gasoline stations refill propane tanks, but you dont save much compared to Home Depot, Lowes, etc

SangioveseW said:   
Since Costco has fairly limited inventory, they tend to only stock things that they know will sell. In order for them to know this, the item has to have a pretty wide appeal and has to be priced fairly attractively. ?


I think this is an excellent point. I normally "trust" Costco to present a good product at a good value/price point -- even if they only offer one of a certain item in their store. As an example, I wanted to purchase a battery-powered camping lantern a few weeks ago. I went on Amazon and saw tons of them, ranging in price from $15 to $100+. The reviews were really scattershot and there was no clear favorite. I went to Costco, they offered one lantern for $20 and I bought it. I used it last week and it worked great. If I have any trouble I'll bring it back.

Costco's track record of vetting products appears to be quite good, so I'm more likely to jump on their products when I see them, rather than going home to read reviews, etc... before purchasing.

MissCrabette said:   I'm a newb in this area, but can you even buy a full brand new tank? When I was looking into it, most people's issue with getting tanks at one of the places that exchange them was that you don't really know what you're getting. You could be getting a rusty, old tank that's been mishandled. Personally, I prefer having my own tank that I refill as needed.At least in my area all the grocery stores, pharmacies and home improvement stores offer propane exchange, which is something that I've been doing for years and years. I've never come across a rusty, old tank and, if you did, you can always ask for another one.

There are no UHaul propane refilling stations nearby and it doesn't sound like you save any money with them anyway.

Shifting away from propane tanks, have any of you come across things that Costco sells that you thought were unusual and would like to know if there's some value associated with them that you are missing?

SangioveseW said:   As a very small example, our local Costco consistently carries empty propane tanks. Who buys them and why? I understand that people with propane grills will often want to have two propane tanks, so they never run out. So, is that the target audience there? Do people buy empty propane tanks at Costco and then exchange them for full ones at other retailers, which appears to only save $2-$3? Is there another angle here?The target audience is pretty clearly the peoples buying the grills sitting next to the tanks.

46176 Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena


I've found that buying duct tape in bulk (to ship boxes overseas) was cheapest (by far) at CostCo than anywhere else.

SangioveseW said:   Shifting away from propane tanks, have any of you come across things that Costco sells that you thought were unusual and would like to know if there's some value associated with them that you are missing?

Please. Stay on topic. Obviously this is a propane tank forum.

pietromoon said:   46176 Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena

You find balsamic vinegar odd?

not just propane, but propane accessories.

SangioveseW said:   As a very small example, our local Costco consistently carries empty propane tanks. Who buys them and why? I understand that people with propane grills will often want to have two propane tanks, so they never run out. So, is that the target audience there? Do people buy empty propane tanks at Costco and then exchange them for full ones at other retailers, which appears to only save $2-$3? Is there another angle here?

I bought a grill and needed a tank. Afaik, tanks aren't usually bundled. Also, the tanks at my local Costco actually cost more, but they come with a gauge. One man's oddball is another man's ordinary.

flowindex said:   THIS

I knew about all but the wedding dress.

http://www.mainstreet.com/slideshow/smart-spending/7-surprising-...

Didn't they make a moving about 4 these?

Propane tanks @ Costco is a fools buy. I can always find them people are willing to give away, go to WM and exchange for $17.82.

That will only have 15# of propane, but if you look, you can generally
find a new one someone else exchanged ( that had to be purged to be filed.)

That tank you refill.

That said, the forum is NOT propane, but weird stuff.

phlippant said:   not just propane, but propane accessories.

I know you typed this in your best Hank Hill voice.....

MisterBeefhead said:   pietromoon said:   46176 Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena

You find balsamic vinegar odd?


No
The quality quanity and the pricepoint(its way under priced)


Mystic Blue Adult Urn
Disclaimer
This was great for ~100$.
http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?prodid=11532067&hierPa...

The threads did require lube.
Blues are more vibrant than the photo.

Godspeed Mother your frugality lives on.

flowindex said:   THIS

Available with expedited shipping!

People here seems to be confusing Costco and Costco.com. Even though they are both under the Costco corporate unbrellea they are very different companies managed in totally different ways and for the most part with totally different product lines.

For Costco B&Ms most of the odd-ball special purchase or seasonal items you see at the B&Ms are there simply because it costs Coscto absolutely nothing to stock these items. In many cases the manufacturer even pays Costco for the privledge of allowing their unique product(s) in Costco and when they don't sell as expected they even pay Costco to displose of their products. We are by far the largest purchaser of Costco salvage so we get the see the end result of many manufacturer's dreams gone wrong at Costco. Here are just a few of the most memorable non-food products that basically flopped at Costco (some more than once):

Self-powered wind up flashlight 2 pack
Self-powered wind up flashlight with emergency strobe + AM/FM radio 2 pack
Cyberpower 100KVA UPS with MEGA bright display
Cyber Genie powered HDTV Antenna 2 Pack
Cyber Genie HTDV Pro connect kit
Wet-n-Forget 2 pack
Shark Pro Vac Stick
Scooba robotic floor scrubber
LED closet lights with wireless remote 3 pack
Tommy Bahamma beach cart
Tommy Bahamma beach umbrella
Tommy Bahamma luxury patio set
12-n-1 emergency jump box with tire inflator
Royal self-inflating pool
Simonize 14-piece car wash/detailing kit
Delonghi 50 pint dehumidifier
Delonghi 9000BTU portable air conditioner
Nostalgia Electrics 30s retro record player with AM/FM
Nostalgia Electrics hard candy cotton candy maker
Nostalgia Electrics snow cone maker
Scotts SNAP lawn spreader with bonus SNAP-PAC
Solar Escapes 18 piece solor light kit
Solar Eascapes 6 piece Japanese lantern solor light set
Autobon triple tube squirrel-proof bird feader
Ideal Concepts 2 piece no-effort snow shovel set
Woodsmen folding chair with beverage cooler 2 pack
Cheap Inks universal ink jet cartridge refilling kit
Duracell emergency power packs for mobile devices
Boflex body fat scale
Coleman 4D LED lantern

.....and many, many more

Cnlsfg- interesting insight! When your company buys these flopped products, how cheap do you get it for - are you talking about a pallet for 100 bucks? I'm just thinking why doesn't Costco mark down the prices more to get people to buy them. I can see myself passing up on half the items on your list until the right price points make them hard to resist.

mmyk72 said:   Cnlsfg- interesting insight! When your company buys these flopped products, how cheap do you get it for - are you talking about a pallet for 100 bucks? I'm just thinking why doesn't Costco mark down the prices more to get people to buy them. I can see myself passing up on half the items on your list until the right price points make them hard to resist.

Costco salvage rates are based on a percentage of original selling price and if the salvage tem is classified as saleable or non-saleable. Our contracts prohibit us from giving you the exact numbers we have contracted with Costco but on average it is well below 20 cents on the dollar. Each department within Costco has their own rates. For example, Electronics return salvage rates are usually 2-3 times that of non-perishable food items. However Costco now requires salvage contract to accept salvage from all departments in a single pruchases and not just the salvage that is the most profitable. In the past, Costco use to allow local Costco B&Ms to negotiate their own salvage contracts and they would sell salvage from each department on a seperate contract. However, too often the companies or more often individuals acting as companies who entered in to salvage contracts would underestimate the amount of capital and other resources they needed on weekly basis to process Costco salvage and they inevitably could not meet their commitment and Costco would be left holding huge amounts of salvage they had not place to store. Nationally this was a huge problem given just the amount of returns a single Costco generates. Now Costco salvage is negotiated on a regional level and you must have proven assets to even be considered as a possible salvage contractor. On a side note, here is an interesting fact: Costco B&Ms in the Western US generate nearly four times the amount of salvage per club than those based on the East Coast.

There are a couple of reasons Costco does not just sell their returns and discontinued items in their stores. First, in terms of the actual refund amount given back to customers for retuned items, returns cost Costco nothing. The manufacturers/vendors absorb all that cost of Costco returns while Costco absorbs their labor cost of processing those returns. Second, Costco believes that selling retuned merchandise in their B&Ms is not in the best interest of their customers since Costco has neither the expertise or time to evaluate if customers returning items are being truthful when they return an item and the potential of selling a defective product to another Costco member only to have to repeat the return process again is not in the best interest of their members . It is much easier for Costco just to either sell of these items to a salvage dealer to recoup some of the manufacturer's or vendor’s costs or in a few cases, the manufacturer/vendor may contract that their returned or unsold merchandise be given to a specific local charity. Overall most returns and unsold merchandise are sent to salvage.

With the exception of Costco’s Kirkland brand products vendors are paying Costco for privilege of using Costco’s floor space so the cost of having your products in Costco is far more than the loss of the sale for a slow moving or often returned products. As far as in store price reductions for slow moving items occasionally you will actually find such price reductions but only when the manufacturer / vendor has previously contracted with Costco to liquidate using this method. Most manufacturer / vendor simply choose to cut their losses and either have those products shipped back to them at their expense or more often they send then to salvage and accept Costco’s negotiated salvage rate.

Very interesting and informative.
Thanks.


cnIsfg said:   mmyk72 said:   Cnlsfg- interesting insight! When your company buys these flopped products, how cheap do you get it for - are you talking about a pallet for 100 bucks? I'm just thinking why doesn't Costco mark down the prices more to get people to buy them. I can see myself passing up on half the items on your list until the right price points make them hard to resist.

Costco salvage rates are based on a percentage of original selling price and if the salvage tem is classified as saleable or non-saleable. Our contracts prohibit us from giving you the exact numbers we have contracted with Costco but on average it is well below 20 cents on the dollar. Each department within Costco has their own rates. For example, Electronics return salvage rates are usually 2-3 times that of non-perishable food items. However Costco now requires salvage contract to accept salvage from all departments in a single pruchases and not just the salvage that is the most profitable. In the past, Costco use to allow local Costco B&Ms to negotiate their own salvage contracts and they would sell salvage from each department on a seperate contract. However, too often the companies or more often individuals acting as companies who entered in to salvage contracts would underestimate the amount of capital and other resources they needed on weekly basis to process Costco salvage and they inevitably could not meet their commitment and Costco would be left holding huge amounts of salvage they had not place to store. Nationally this was a huge problem given just the amount of returns a single Costco generates. Now Costco salvage is negotiated on a regional level and you must have proven assets to even be considered as a possible salvage contractor. On a side note, here is an interesting fact: Costco B&Ms in the Western US generate nearly four times the amount of salvage per club than those based on the East Coast.

There are a couple of reasons Costco does not just sell their returns and discontinued items in their stores. First, in terms of the actual refund amount given back to customers for retuned items, returns cost Costco nothing. The manufacturers/vendors absorb all that cost of Costco returns while Costco absorbs their labor cost of processing those returns. Second, Costco believes that selling retuned merchandise in their B&Ms is not in the best interest of their customers since Costco has neither the expertise or time to evaluate if customers returning items are being truthful when they return an item and the potential of selling a defective product to another Costco member only to have to repeat the return process again is not in the best interest of their members . It is much easier for Costco just to either sell of these items to a salvage dealer to recoup some of the manufacturer's or vendor’s costs or in a few cases, the manufacturer/vendor may contract that their returned or unsold merchandise be given to a specific local charity. Overall most returns and unsold merchandise are sent to salvage.

With the exception of Costco’s Kirkland brand products vendors are paying Costco for privilege of using Costco’s floor space so the cost of having your products in Costco is far more than the loss of the sale for a slow moving or often returned products. As far as in store price reductions for slow moving items occasionally you will actually find such price reductions but only when the manufacturer / vendor has previously contracted with Costco to liquidate using this method. Most manufacturer / vendor simply choose to cut their losses and either have those products shipped back to them at their expense or more often they send then to salvage and accept Costco’s negotiated salvage rate.

I actually priced match my mom's coffin to costco. Told the funeral home i was going to have one shipped in by costco, they said how much and dropped the price down by $2,100 dollars. true story

Cnlsfg- thanks for sharing. I loved learning the inside scoup- very infpormative indeed.

thanks for the info.

cnIsfg said:   People here seems to be confusing Costco and Costco.com. Even though they are both under the Costco corporate unbrellea they are very different companies managed in totally different ways and for the most part with totally different product lines.

For Costco B&Ms most of the odd-ball special purchase or seasonal items you see at the B&Ms are there simply because it costs Coscto absolutely nothing to stock these items. In many cases the manufacturer even pays Costco for the privledge of allowing their unique product(s) in Costco and when they don't sell as expected they even pay Costco to displose of their products. We are by far the largest purchaser of Costco salvage so we get the see the end result of many manufacturer's dreams gone wrong at Costco. Here are just a few of the most memorable non-food products that basically flopped at Costco (some more than once):

Self-powered wind up flashlight 2 pack
Self-powered wind up flashlight with emergency strobe + AM/FM radio 2 pack
Cyberpower 100KVA UPS with MEGA bright display
Cyber Genie powered HDTV Antenna 2 Pack
Cyber Genie HTDV Pro connect kit
Wet-n-Forget 2 pack
Shark Pro Vac Stick
Scooba robotic floor scrubber
LED closet lights with wireless remote 3 pack
Tommy Bahamma beach cart
Tommy Bahamma beach umbrella
Tommy Bahamma luxury patio set
12-n-1 emergency jump box with tire inflator
Royal self-inflating pool
Simonize 14-piece car wash/detailing kit
Delonghi 50 pint dehumidifier
Delonghi 9000BTU portable air conditioner
Nostalgia Electrics 30s retro record player with AM/FM
Nostalgia Electrics hard candy cotton candy maker
Nostalgia Electrics snow cone maker
Scotts SNAP lawn spreader with bonus SNAP-PAC
Solar Escapes 18 piece solor light kit
Solar Eascapes 6 piece Japanese lantern solor light set
Autobon triple tube squirrel-proof bird feader
Ideal Concepts 2 piece no-effort snow shovel set
Woodsmen folding chair with beverage cooler 2 pack
Cheap Inks universal ink jet cartridge refilling kit
Duracell emergency power packs for mobile devices
Boflex body fat scale
Coleman 4D LED lantern

.....and many, many more


Wow, now I know where Woot! gets all its stuff

MissCrabette said:   SangioveseW said:   dukefanjohn said:   There are many U-Haul locations that will fill your propane tank rather than do an exchange.Thanks, I did not know that. I still don't quite understand it, as if you want to refill rather than exchange, you can always just buy a full tank and refill it later.
I'm a newb in this area, but can you even buy a full brand new tank? When I was looking into it, most people's issue with getting tanks at one of the places that exchange them was that you don't really know what you're getting. You could be getting a rusty, old tank that's been mishandled. Personally, I prefer having my own tank that I refill as needed.


Menards has them (if they are near you) in 20lb, 30lb, 40lb, and 100lb (which are really heavy when filled).

I saw someone mentioned this, but it may have been overlooked by others. When you get your own propane tank refilled at U-Haul or wherever, they fill it up and you are charged only for the amount of propane that was addded to the tank. When you trade your tank in at the grocery or convenience store, it costs more, is only partially filled and will not last as long. You are definitely paying extra for the convenience. Also, propane tanks expire after 12 years and have dates stamped on them.

Jmanolinsky said:   When you trade your tank in at the grocery or convenience store, it costs more, is only partially filled and will not last as long.Why would it be only partially filled?

SangioveseW said:   Jmanolinsky said:   When you trade your tank in at the grocery or convenience store, it costs more, is only partially filled and will not last as long.Why would it be only partially filled?

In order to standardize pricing, companies that sell pre-filled propane tanks generally fill them to a standard volume weight regardless of the tank capacity. Not all tanks hold the same volume so that often leave some tanks partially empty. Then there are also companies like Blue Rhino who have been successfully sued for short-filling propane tanks. There is currently an active class-action lawsuit for that Blue Rhino fiasco.



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014