10 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco (and Where to Buy Them Instead) Gallery

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Costco is one of those stores that really seem to have everything. You walk into the sprawling warehouse, and the world is your oyster: Want a flat screen television? Right this way! How about a whole beef tenderloin? Just around that corner, sir! Need a new pair of glasses? No? Well, they're there if you change your mind. How about a cheap, massive slice of pizza? But while it may seem like there's no better store to get great value for your money, there are some items that you'd be better off purchasing elsewhere.

When it comes to big box stores like Costco, these 17 items are no-brainers in the value department. Just about everything bought in bulk will save you money in the long run if you don't let any of it go to waste, which is why non-perishables (like sugar) and foods that can be frozen (like chicken breasts and steaks) are always good buys. Just don't forget that some items, like condiments and spices, have shorter shelf lives than you may think. Plus, prices on kitchen appliances, housewares, over-the-counter drugs, and automotive equipment are all very competitive.

However, there are plenty of items sold at Costco that you'd be better off purchasing somewhere else, for a variety of reasons. Some are simply more expensive at Costco than at other stores, others are of poorer quality than the competition's brands, and still others are so perishable that the odds of your not having to throw some away are slim. So be a bit more judicious the next time you head over to Costco, and realize that just because it's sold there doesn't mean that it's necessarily a good deal. Read on for 10 items that you'd be better off buying elsewhere.



Books are one department where Amazon has Costco beat. The online retailer often has the best book prices around, above all if you're okay with buying a used book.

Photo Modified: Flickr/ brewbooks/ CCBY-SA 4.0

CDs and DVDs

You'd also be better off shopping for CDs and DVDs on Amazon. The prices you'll find at Costco may be slightly cheaper than at other stores, but you'll still get a better deal if you shop online, and Amazon Prime has made it a lot easier as well. 


Fruit and Other Perishables

Buying food in bulk is always a gamble because there's the definite possibility of it going bad before you can use it. Fruits and vegetables, for example, have a very short shelf life and not all varieties can be frozen, so you may want to pause before buying that 24-pack of peaches. Fruit and vegetable prices also tend to drop depending on what's in season at supermarkets, while they often remain the same at Costco. Also keep in mind that condiments only stay good for about six months.



Diapers are actually slightly cheaper at Target and Walmart than they are at Costco, and they can also be purchased at a 20-percent discount through Amazon Family, which is an offshoot of Amazon Prime and also lets you buy in bulk (and not have to worry about fitting those bulky packages into the trunk).

Quinn Dombrowski

Designer Clothes

You might spy clothes from a name brand at Costco, and at first glance they'll probably look about the same as they do at a department store, albeit with a lower price tag. In reality, big name aside, the cheaper product might well be of a lower quality than what you pay full price for; many name-brand designers produce cheaper versions of their designs specifically for outlet stores and warehouse clubs. You're probably better off just buying clothes at Marshall's.


Tissues and Toilet Paper

Kirkland Brand (Costco's private label) tissues and toilet paper may be less expensive than the competition, but they also don't stack up from a quality standpoint. Consumer Reports found that the facial tissue has "so-so strength" and that the toilet paper "offers only so-so strength and tearing ease."

Photo Modified: Flickr/ Dawn Endico/ CCBY-SA4.0

Flip Flops

Flip Flops are a dollar store staple, and are intended to be of low quality. So while $10 might not sound like much to pay for a pair, you'll find them for a much lower price than that at the dollar store. 



Don't assume that just because an electronics item is for sale at Costco, it's cheaper than it would be at a store like Best Buy. Always shop around before making a commitment; you'll most likely find that a store that specializes in electronics still has the best prices. 


Milk and Soda

You'll find both milk and soda available for lower prices at your local grocery store (especially if you wait for them to go on sale), and anyway, buying milk in bulk is a surefire recipe for waste. Don't forget that soda, while it may not "go bad," will get flat and lose flavor after a while, too.


Canned Goods

Canned goods are also usually a better deal at the grocery store, especially if you look for your supermarket's on-sale private label brand; with a little know-how, you can also turn canned food into some surprisingly gourmet dishes.

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